Saturday 31 December 2016

Reading list, 31 December 2016

Tim Denee's 2017 calendar is available for download.

Adrian Ellis for Apollo on the outlook for New York's museums under the Trump administration. Less fearmongering, more analysis of draw on endowment, earned revenue, and the possible impact of economic changes on major donors and the outbreak of a fresh set of culture wars.

Createquity undertakes a meta-analysis of research into the benefits of the art.

Martin Fuller in the New York Review of Books on a new crop of books that underline the resurgent interest in Brutalist architecture.

An article from October last year on the introduction of Holacracy to reshape Zappos' organisational culture (I know that doesn't sound interesting, but it really, really is).

 Dimitra Kessenides  and Max Chafkin in Bloomberg Business Week: Is Wikipedia Woke? (aka can the site diversify its contributors and therefore content?)

Isaac Kaplan writes an Artsy editorial about then-Mayor Bloomberg's battle with the Brooklyn Museum over Sensation.

Linda Holmes' tribute to George Michael for NPR; Wesley Morris' tribute for the NYT.

2016 in review

At the end of 2015 I was struggling with the feeling that my time was leaking away with nothing to show for it. I felt busy, but not productive; things happened, things were delivered, but I had no personal sense of completion or achievement; I was running every day just to stay in the same place.

So from the start of 2016 I kept a diary of all the things I do that aren't part of my day job - all the fringe work, all the hobby work. Taking a leaf out of one of my American colleague's resumes, I also kept a record of what he termed ‘service’ - things like sitting on boards.

From the perspective of the end of the year, I don't know if this exercise has lessened that sense of being busy yet not productive, but it has plugged somewhat that sense of time leaking away - I can now view that time as being invested, and understand that while the returns might not always be immediate, they do amount to something.


I broke 1000 Wikipedia edits for the year in December, a combination of continuing to update pages I've worked on over the past two years and creating new ones. You can see my editing stats here; my most-edited page was the timeline of feminist art in New Zealand.

I bashed out my report on my Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Scholarship-funded trip around art museums in seven US states: clocking in at around half the length of my MA thesis it covers open storage, membership programmes, digital developments and general visitor experience observations.

I posted nearly 100 entries here - mostly, to be honest, weekly round-ups of interesting things I've read online but also the occasional longer piece: a frustrated response to Tiffany Jenkins' arguments of repatriation; an extract from my keynote at the Emerging Museum Professionals hui in the middle of the year, on how to network; a wrestling with the ideas of 'engagement' and 'experience' in art museums;  a reflection on the Four Waves of Feminism hui we hosted at The Dowse in April.

I contributed pieces to the The Third Enjoy Retrospective Five Year Catalogue, to the first issue of Tauhere | Connections and wrote a column for Art News New Zealand that may become a more regular gig in 2017.

Beginning in April, I experimented with a (nearly) weekly email newsletter using Tiny Letter, drawing together online articles I'd been reading recently. I do this partly because I enjoy writing for people, and partly because I read so much online that I felt the need to do something with it. It feels like it duplicates my blog dreadfully though, so it might be that in 2017 I'll stop my weekly blog roundups and focus on the newsletter. We'll see. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the best reaction I got to the newsletter was when I stopped collating other people's thoughts and collected my own instead, in an issue devoted to getting my purple belt and why I do jiu jitsu.


God, I talked this year. Just talking - turning up at functions, meetings, briefings, planning sessions, community groups, what have you - takes a big chunk of my working time and my energy. This year I tried to keep a record of my non-core-work talking gigs.

It was a real thrill, and pushed me well out of my comfort zone, to be asked to chair a session of the New Zealand Writers Week Festival with Mallory Ortberg in February (I also got to introduce and handle the Q&A with the charming Robert Dessaix).

In April I chaired a panel discussion for Wellington City Council and the Goethe Institut on artist residencies. In May I chaired one of the panel discussions held to inform the National Library's new strategy document, ‘Taonga and Mana: Capturing experiences and stories of New Zealand’s heritage’; in May I was also part of a panel discussion relating to the Julian Dashper exhibition at City Gallery Wellington; that same month I presented, or was part of a group of people presenting, five different things at the Museums Australasia conference in Auckland. In August I facilitated a Q&A session with the Wellington mayoral candidates for Arts Wellington. In October I was part of a panel at the Art Crime Symposium in Wellington. At the NDF conference in November. I facilitated a panel discussion on 3D technologies (a topic of which I know little, and actually I'm quite sure I was asked to facilitate primarily because the five speakers were all men) and got to do a fireside chat with the awesome Seb Chan.

Throughout the year I also spoke to the Mahuki Lab at Te Papa, Museums & Heritage Studies students at Victoria, did a day of reviewing students' work in AUT's Crit Week, popped up at Enjoy's Book Club, and got rung in at the last moment to (happily) be the speaker at the Whitireia arts end of year celebration.

After taking the first six months of the year off, I went back on to RNZ's Nine to Noon programme in June with a monthly report on the visual arts. I tried hard to balance my coverage not just between New Zealand and international, and North and South islands, and small and large institutions, but between male and female artists, an apportioning I think I've not paid explicit attention to before.


In February this year I joined the Arts Wellington board. I'd previously only been loosely aware of the organisation, which facilitates networking, information sharing and advocacy on behalf of members, which represent most of the professional arts organisations (of all stripes) in the Wellington region. Over the year my understanding of the greater cultural territory has dramatically improved; in August I took on the chair role and in December I ran my first ever AGM. [Arts Wellington takes up about one working day per month.]

Mid 2016 marked the beginning of my second year of my term on the Museums Aotearoa board; with Cam McCracken taking on the chair role I became deputy chair. As with Arts Wellington, it's been a fantastic opportunity to better understand the wider museum sector, and to start seeing what I think are the long term challenges and opportunities for the sector. Just before Christmas we released an update of the MA strategy to members and I'm encouraged by the energy I see. [Museums Aotearoa takes up about 1 working day per month, probably a bit more across the year.]

2016 was my third year participating in my favourite extra-curricular activity (besides BJJ), as a member of the independent panel of experts for MBIE's Tourism Growth Partnership. The other members of the panel are just stellar people, I have learned so much, I have contributed usefully, and it has been fully worth the time investment. [The TGP took up about probably about two working weeks this year.]


I'm contemplating another digital outlet in 2017, a quick and dirty way of checking out a concept that I failed to get funding for this year. I'm curating my first big project at The Dowse. I'm staying on the radio, but plan to step down from at least one responsibility during the year, which will free up little chunk of time. I'd actually like to fill that will less reading, less writing and more physical activity - maybe it's finally time for The Year of Gymnastics?

Saturday 24 December 2016

Reading list, 24 December 2016

Amelia Groom muses on Ōtsuka Museum in Japan, where masterpieces of Western art have been digitised, printed on ceramic tile and put on display, creating a massive museum of simulacra disassociated from time.

Randy Kennedy profiles New York dealer gallerist Marian Goodman for The New York Times.

Tauhere, the journal organised by emerging museum professionals in Aotearoa New Zealand, publishes its second issue (PDF) in time for the Christmas break.

Sean Mallon, inspired by Albert Wendt: Why we should beware of the word 'traditional'.

The very attractive NYT recommended reading 2016 list

Saturday 17 December 2016

Reading list, 17 December 2016

Kyle Chayka for The Verge on how the formatting inherent in Google's AMP and Facebook's Instant Articles makes it hard to discriminate between news sources.

NPR's Best Books of 2016 - a more diverse and less intimidating listing than most.

#ShowMeTheMonet - the New York Times  profiles the hunt for the Marcos art collection.

MBIE have released the report on copyright and the creative sector in New Zealand.

Anthony Byrt on the new Noted site on what Auckland could learn from Detroit.

The inimitable Glenda Jackson.

Saturday 10 December 2016

Reading list, 10 December 2016

Jennifer Schuessler in The New York Times on an independent report commissioned by Yale University into the 'renaming controversy'.

Max Chafkin for Bloomberg BusinessweekConfessions of an Instagram Influencer - dissecting how to get to the point where you'll be paid to Instagram.

fari nzinga on public trust and art museums, from her MCN talk and published on The Incluseum.

Anthony Byrt on Kate Newby for Paperboy - a recent Mediawatch segment suggested Paperboy may expand to Wellington, in response to which I say "Yes, please".

It seemed like months, years, followed the evening in the hipster pub, where we would find ourselves shifting from table to table, raising our glasses. Sampling the regional spirits of the Western world. About three years on from that early pub date we found ourselves with a fat, spirited baby, going through the ropes of getting him two passports. If the umlaut had been fascinating to me before, it now became something of a furious obsession.

From Airini Beautrais' Landfall Essay Competition winning piece, Umlaut, published on The Pantograph Press.

Shelley Bernstein on an experiment using Amazon's Alexa to answer visitors' questions in the gallery.

Johanna Hanink reviews Tiffany Jenkins' Keeping Their Marbles (a source of much angst earlier in the year) for the Bryn Mawr Classical Review.

Wednesday 7 December 2016

This week on the radio

Today on Nine to Noon, at about 11.45am, I'll be doing a whirlwind tour around the country covering exhibitions for people to see over the Christmas break, including:

Anne McCahon, Te Uru, Auckland

Ann Shelton, Auckland Art Gallery

Richard Orjis, Tauranga

Frances Stachl, Sarjeant Gallery, Whanganui

Buy Enjoy fundraiser, Wellington

James Greig, The Dowse, Lower Hutt

The Devil's Blindspot, Christchurch Art Gallery

Lisa Walker, Christchurch Art Gallery

Kushana Bush, Dunedin Public Art Gallery

Saturday 3 December 2016

Reading list, 3 December 2016

My Sunday routine is pretty unshakeable, and E-Tangata's weekly profiles are a significant part of it. This week: te reo advocate and member of Te Mātāwai, Mereana Selby.

Olivia Laing wrote The Lonely City, one of my favourite books this year. Here she is on Robert Rauschenberg's life and work: she's the subject of a new show at Tate Modern - Hal Foster wrote for the catalogue, a piece reproduced on the LRB site.

Writer and anthology editor Jolisa Gracewood wrote up influential and much-loved books from throughout her reading life for the New Zealand Festival website: we have significant reading overlap, but Jolisa can nail down the essential nature of a book where I would flail and hand-flap.

"My only conclusion is that LinkedIn is the social media equivalent of cargo shorts" - Jonathan Kelso on LinkedIn for Tusk's Digital Platforms series.

Mark Wilding for The Guardian on the diversification of British podcasts, and Imriel Morgan, co-founder of one of the discussed podcast networks, on Gal-Dem about developing audiences and advertisers.

Claire Murdoch for Te Papa's Off the wall on the gender politics of Alexis Hunter's photographs.

Ashleigh Young for The Spinoff on the correct spelling of the word eh.