Tuesday 22 May 2012

Don Driver symposium

Hi. Welcome back. It's been a while. It's nice to be back here. I hope to do this more in future.

In the meantime. This weekend at City Gallery Wellington I'm taking part in the Don Driver Symposium.

The basic details
Don Driver Symposium
City Gallery Wellington
Civic Square
Free entry

The Gallery have written a very proper description of the event:

Ritual was commissioned by the National Art Gallery as part of a series of artists’ installations in 1982. Don Driver responded with a confrontational and undeniably physical work that challenged definitions of installation and sculpture, and also people’s tolerance for and expectations of contemporary art. This symposium is a partnership between City Gallery Wellington and Te Papa and will focus on the legacy of Ritual and its maker Don Driver.
Speakers include Sarah Farrar (Te Papa), Aaron Kreisler (Dunedin Public Art Gallery), artist Eddie Clemens, Hamish McKay (Hamish McKay Gallery), Courtney Johnston (art writer and commentator) and Aaron Lister (City Gallery Wellington).

Me, I'm gonna be a little less proper. I'm super excited about this event. I'm excited Driver is being talked about. I'm excited to be part of the line-up (I speak and present all the time in my work/non-art life, but this is the first time I've been asked to speak at a gallery. I hope not to disappoint).

I'm also excited because Kirsty and Aaron have gone a little out on a limb here. It's a (relatively, I know) youthful line-up. These aren't necessarily the usual suspects who are presenting. Sarah will be talking about the history of Ritual, specifically as it relates to Te Papa. (I'm curious about this. There is so much myth built up around this work, and I want to see how much is true.) Aaron K will be talking about working with Driver's art as a curator, with specific reference to an exhibition he put together at the DPAG, '71-75'. Aaron loves and understands Driver's work. Eddie will give an artist's response. I don't know Eddie, and I have no idea what this will be like - but the hints I've heard sound a little mad, and intriguing.

Then Hamish and I will be 'in conversation'. I don't know if you've ever been there, but 'in conversation' with Hamish McKay is a pretty bloody amazing place to be. I really hope to get an impersonation out of him. I'm unsure what we will actually talk about, but that's part of the excitement, right? The anticipation. The guessing. Some things are better left unplanned.

After that, we all front up on a panel. As I get older, I find myself getting steadily stranger. The barriers between what's in my head and what comes out of my mouth are forever lowering. I hope I don't say anything too silly or too inappropriate. (Part of me hopes I say silly and inappropriate things. These art events could take a little lightening up).

Anyway. The real heart of this Driver, and Ritual. Not long after Obstinate Objects opened, I sent a friend I am working with on another project to see the work, totally unprepared. I wanted to see if it could 'speak' to someone smart and thoughtful who spends little time in art galleries. Here's what he wrote. These are some of the things I'll be thinking about leading up to Saturday, as well these thoughts from nearly five years ago, and memories of the people who have helped me see - really see - Driver's work over the years. I think Driver is an extraordinary artist. I think Ritual is a deeply strange work, caught between being timeless and being a period piece (that red flashing light). I am looking forward to seeing where this afternoon takes us.

Don Driver, 'Ritual', (1982). Plastic, fabric, bone, hair, rubber, leather, steel, iron, glass, wood and straw with audio component. Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Purchased 1989 with New Zealand Lottery Board Funds. Image courtesy of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. 
This event is a partnership between Te Papa and City Gallery Wellington.