Archive for the ‘Gallery Shows’ Category

“Wayfarer Gallery Presents: The Successful Organisation of Space for the Modern Artist, after Kim Patton’s ‘Time Will Break the World’” (Artspace, Auckland, 2004, curated by Tao Wells)

Friday, December 17th, 2004

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When Tao Wells was asked to take part in The Bed You Lie In, an exhibition “in Artspace’s traditional emerging artists slot,” he asked 8 of his friends (Kaleb Bennet, Ryan Chadfield, Matthew Couper, Shay Launder, Genevieve Packer, Terry Urbahn, Wendyhouse and myself) to create “better” versions of the 8 other works in the show (by Daniel du Bern, Louise Tullett, New Artist, Rachael Grant, Finn Ferrier, Marnie Slater, Eve Armstrong and Kim Paton) and called it Winning Teacher (a show within a show). Wells then “asked the curator to rank the works in the order of her preference. This was apparently a difficult proposition for curator Tessa Giblin, who opted to position the works in alphabetical order, rather than to show favouritism for one work over another. I guess Wells was attempting to scratch below the surface of Giblin’s curatorial politics to see what was underneath, perhaps looking for a kernel of connoisseurship, or something.” (Dan Arps, Office Gossip Bastard Venting: An Interview With Tao Wells)

“The idea was simple enough: create a template/context/parameter/structure that would be seen negatively and take heat for it… to reflect some ugly reality inherent to gallery culture and then pit this against the [artworks’ attempt at] trying to communicate with each other (which is a positive generally, but hell) despite the environment in which it is received and placed. I think the relation between [their] works [and] mine is exciting and unstable; full of promise; much more interesting than the actual works; but mostly available only to those who enjoy and speak formal art qualities. It was a sucker punch, where when I got hit I would lie on the floor and collect sympathy, which worked, only (surprise!) the gallery didn’t get it, didn’t want to be hit, fought me on every little thing and ultimately made me compromise the work’s integrity to sooth their version of what I should be doing, as if they were a competing artist which is exactly how they behaved.” (Tao Wells)

My work consisted of 31 artworks by 31 different artists, from my personal art collection, packed into a small leather suitcase (a show within a show within a show). The work Tao asked me to remake/respond to was Kim Paton’s Time Will Break The World. Paton’s work (which she had produced once before in Wellington) consisted of ”a perfectly gibed and painted wall” closing off the main space of the gallery, leaving only “a small passage around the perimeter of the room for people to negotiate.” (Artspace online catalogue)

“Richard Whyte has introduced his own new gallery space full of art works, called Wayfarer Gallery Presents, all inside a small suitcase. With 31 works, Whyte has in turn sublet Wells’ space to give a new insight (to a new artist) into the new gallery that Paton herself has created within Artspace. This together with… Wells’ other tenants, suggests a heterotopic locale that’s neither here nor there, but where we are and where we are not, while reflecting on the cultural capital given to the business of newness in The Bed You Lie In.” (Mark Harvey, “Tao Wells” in The Bed You Lie In, Artspace print catalogue, p39-40)

“Other works set out to criticise the art world – its galleries, its exhibitions, its difficulties and what is seen as its tired old cliches. Finn Ferrier has little bits of demolished galleries in plastic bags. Instead of a postcard you can take away a lump of concrete. Kim Paton throws up barriers between people and the gallery by crowding them against the wall and giving them nothing to see… And so it goes on – one smart, clever idea after another, with most of the young artists biting down hard on the hand that might feed them. Most gross of all is an installation by Tao Wells that references a whole lot of other artists by recreating bits of their work. It also comments on them by putting something to rot in an old filing cabinet so the whole gallery stinks, ha, ha. The gallery as rubbish dump.” (T.J. McNamara, The Galleries: Dutch Courage Goes Down A Real Treat, NZ Herald)

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“Three Paragraphs for Tao Wells” (Space Jam 1996, Gambia Castle, 2009)

Friday, December 4th, 2009

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In 2009 Tao Wells asked me to write a short piece of writing to accompany his exhibition “Space Jam 1996″ at Gambia Castle in Auckland, New Zealand. I happily agreed and after much back and forth with Tao this is what I came up with. Art critic John Hurrell later reviewed the show on Eye Contact, saying that “No meritable quality, in my view, is apparent from just looking at the exhibition.” For the record, I recommend thinking about it as well as looking, John.

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Three paragraphs for Tao Wells

Dick Whyte, November 2009

 

Tao Wells is a terrible artist. But he is a good person. It is ethics which concern me, rather than aesthetics (it is always so elegant to say what something is, followed by what it is not – it seems so final, or definitive). Morals involve any laws or codes which are imposed on you from without (religion, the legal system). Ethics are an internal model of behaviour: when morality no longer reflects our personal reality, ethics must intervene. Michel Foucault: “Ethics is the considered form that freedom takes when it is informed by reflection.”

A second definition of ethics: we must become adept at talking with ourselves. We are always two, rather than one. “I am” is merely the light, beneath the shadowy “me” and “my” (particularly when used in statements like: “Oh me, oh my, I don’t know what I am going to do”). Not knowing what to do, we turn to ethics. Of course, the other response is simply to ignore whatever is troubling: to claim that it is “not art,” “not human” or simply “not to my taste.” If Immanuel Kant has taght us anything: art has nothing to do with taste (and everything to do with time).

Problem: I am interested in ethics, not aesthetics. Solution: I am interested in both ethics and aesthetics. Firstly: how can an aesthetic shock the audience into a moment of critical thought (how do formal aesthetics prompt emotional ethics). Secondly: what does it feel like when you experience representations of people making ethical choices (how do formal ethics prompt emotional aesthetics). Problem: Tao Wells is a terrible artist. Solution: Tao Wells is both a terrible artist and a terrific artist, and this is the hardest of all concepts to grasp.

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“There are more things in heaven and earth, John Key…” (Video Art, 2010)

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

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“Dick Whyte tackles the murky territory of John Key’s recently ill-conceived joke about cannibalism.” (Mark Williams) First screened as part of A Horse Walks Into A Bar, curated by Mark Williams (New Zealand Film Archive, Wellington, 6 October – 27 November, 2010). As Williams writes, “A Horse Walks into a Bar is an exhibition which presents moving images from the Film Archive’s collections alongside new work by local Wellington artists. The exhibition asks, What is humour? And how does it work?” (read more) Also featuring work by Claire Harris, Dad and Tracy, Caroline Johnston, John Lake and Chris Clements.

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“Wayfarer Gallery Presents: A Festiva of Enjoyment” (Enjoy Gallery, Wellington, 2002)

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

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In December 2002 I was offered a three week show at Enjoy Gallery. In response to this I installed my entire lounge into the gallery, including chairs and couches, a desk, a stereo, bookshelves, my home computer, a coffee table, the Wayfarer Library (a collection of more than 500 books which operated as a library for a number of local artists which normally resided at my house), the Wayfarer Gallery (my personal art collection, including drawings, paintings, sculptures and photographs by local artists), a number of local self-published mini-comics, artist’s journals and workbooks and a collection of unreleased cassettes and CDs by a variety Wellington experimental musicians (many of them recorded in my lounge).

In addition to the installation there were performances every night including a punk rock evening (featuring The Smokers and Brother Love), a free jazz evening (featuring Rick Jensen and Jeff Henderson), a noise evening (featuring Nova Scotia and Antony Milton), a theatre evening (featuring plays by Harold Pinter and Samuel Beckett, directed by myself and performed by Colin Hodson and Diane McAllen), a performance-art evening (featuring Tao Wells and Rubber Banana) and a mini-film-festival (featuring films by Campbell Walker, Colin Hodson, Tim Wyborn, Alex Greenhough and Dick Whyte). I also slept in the gallery for the duration on a fold out couch. Unfortunately most of the documentation of the exhibition has been lost, although a few photos remain (thanks to the Enjoy Gallery archives).

Two years later I exhibited a reworked version of these ideas as part of the Tao Wells installation Winning Teacher (Art Space, 2004), titled Wayfarer Gallery Presents: The Successful Organisation of Space for the Modern Artist.

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“An Elvis Presley cloth adorns the doorway to the main gallery where snapshots, paintings, photos and workbooks festoon the space. Coffee tables, sofas and bookshelves contain Hemingway to Burroughs to a typing manual… The free jazz playing is great. It sounds like people improvising live. But the workbooks were, for me, the most interesting part of the exhibition. [Toon]‘s particularly showed an aesthetic and poetic sensibility I enjoyed. One page is a list of clichés, another quotes from ‘portrait of the artist as a young man’, contrasted on another page against an ink drawing of ‘the way swedish people have sex’. I’ll say no more, take a look. Robyn Kenealy’s workbook was in a different style, with letters and notes from friends, and an obsession with images and quotes from Bob Dylan turning into an infatuation with Milla Jovavich.” (review by Emma Jean, read more)

Unfortunately the reviewer chose to focus on the artworks in the room and failed to engage with the installation as a relational performance. This was a common response to the show (by critics and curators). The focus was placed on individual artworks, as if I were simply the curator of the show, while the installation aspects and my role as a performer in the space were largely ignored.

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“Art, the closest function. Our closest concept to serendipity and truth, her lover, artifice. Art is our last ditch attempt at understanding perfection (cease the AESTHETIC) at battle with the great paradox, both called by name ARTIFICE. All construction. To see, at last, the human struggle as meaningless, as worthless. To strip the collective ego, the human god complex and see instead. Personal faith, accepting belief in the face of nothingness. Opening to serendipity, chance emotion. Upon rendering ourselves worthless the ideas of ego as comparable are useless. The ego becomes free to believe in ART.” (proposal excerpt)

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A semi-complete list of the artists who appeared in the Wayfarer Gallery: Andy Chappell, Rick Jensen, Tim Wyborn, Jaime Mellor, Michelle Jensen, Alexander Greenhough, Campbell Walker, Mark Whyte, Nia Robyn, Erica Lowe, Hamish Clayton, Toon, Smiley, Sam Stephens, Daniel Cleveland, Mardi Potter, Diane McAllen, Liz Kane, Rob Groat, Colin Hodson, Alistair Cuthill, Glory-Road Topham, Aaron Hilton, Steve Dean, Dean Brown, Dave Edwards, Tao Wells, Amber Johnson, Henry Feltham, Sarah Parton, Norman Levido, Mika, Dane Taylor, Michael Dennehy, Grace Russell, Louise Clifton, Atreus, Leo Prince, Campbell Kneale, Elric Kane, Robyn Kenealy, Fats Valliant, Jeff Henderson.

Special thanks to Robyn Kenealy who was central to the performance/installation and Tao Wells who convinced me to put in the proposal.

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“Projections” (curated by Tim Wyborn, Enjoy Gallery, Wellington, 2002)

Monday, February 21st, 2011

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Projections was an exhibition involving nine artists [Rick Jensen, Nikki Deeley, Jason O'Dea, Devon Damonte, Dick Whyte, Andy Chappell and Tim Wyborn], working with slide projectors as their medium… The projectors all blew up on the opening night, and one of them refused to stay in sequence during the exhibition, but I didn’t really mind. In fact, I appreciate this because it made the audience more aware of the technology… Projections on walls are a simple idea, but when it comes to actually making it happen, it’s a real bastard. So seeing as the exhibition series was supposed to be about curative acts, I felt that it was good to expose the public to the mechanics of the exhibition.” (Tim Wyborn, curator’s statement)

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“Many of the images are of singular artworks, and are interesting in themselves, but remain a showcase, much like a portfolio of work. Other slides actually use the material as their medium, constructing an image within itself. These I appreciate as they conflict with the other, singular artwork showpieces, more ethereal in nature. Richard Whyte’s mound-like creations [see below] juxtaposed with Nikki Deeley’s artworks for example. They jar the senses; this is stimulating in itself to have so much difference so quickly. Each slide holds fascination in itself. Slightly frustrating, I want to climb in and see the scale, size and texture of Nikki’s artworks. Richard’s, I can view for the painterly quality, and refer to formal attributes in their actuality experiential qualities such as scale, visual texture, collision with other slides that are his on opposite walls.” (review by Kate Kelly, read more)

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Sadly, Tim died on January 2, 2003. He was a dear friend of mine and is remembered with love by his family, friends and the Wellington art community.

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“Concerned Citizens: Raising Money for the ‘Terror Raid’ Arrestees” (Garrett Street, Wellington, June 3rd, 2011)

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

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“More than 50 artists from around New Zealand will be exhibiting their work in Wellington at the start of next month to raise funds and public awareness for the arrestees of the 2007 October 15 “terror raids.” Exhibited works range from paintings, sculptures, and animation, to a reproduction of the assassination device police claim ‘terror raid’ arrestees planned to use – a catapult designed to launch a bus onto the head of former US president George Bush.” (Scoop: Independent News)

‘Concerned Citizens’ is taking place at Garrett Street, in Wellington (opposite Glover Park, above People’s coffee) and opens on Friday 3rd of June at 4.30pm, followed by a screening of the documentary Operation 8: Deep in the Forest at 8pm. The donated works will be on sale and display over the weekend (with all money raised going to those currently standing trial). I will be donating a couple of works, alongside more than 50 Wellington artists including Tao Wells, Campbell Kneale, Bryce Galloway, Robyn Kenealy, Ellen Rhoda, Roger Morris, Richard Meros, Arlo Edwards, Jeff Henderson and Hannah Salmon (see full list here).

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A SHORT HISTORY LESSON

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“On Monday, October 15th 2007, more than 300 police carried out dawn raids on dozens of houses all over Aotearoa/New Zealand. Police claim the raids were in response to ‘concrete terrorist threats’ from indigenous activists.” (October 15 Solidarity Website) However, the Solicitor-General was quick to reject the police bid to treat these arrests as ‘terrorism’ and the only charges laid to date have been for the possession of unlicensed firearms.

4 years later those arrested, including both Maori and Pakeha activists, are finally standing trial, but have been denied a jury; ”Why have these people been denied a trial by jury? Why is there so much secrecy surrounding the legal proceedings? The police seem to be equating legitimate political and environmental activism with terrorism.” (Lance Ravenswood) Adding insult to injury, it has now been announced that the trial may be postponed another year, not taking place until 2012. Tamati Kruger speculated that the delay of the trial may have something to do with the rugby world cup being scheduled to start just as the trial would have been ending; “There may be an embarrassment with some Tūhoe action and public action while rugby and New Zealand is being showcased to the world.” (read more)

Ngai Tūhoe were one of the main targets of the ‘terror raids’, which serves to further damage the already strained relations between Tūhoe and the NZ government. In 1865 Tuhoe were falsely accused of killing the missionary Karl Volkner and, based on this accusation, the government stole 5700ha of their most fertile land. Furthermore, Tuhoe declined to sign the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, were instrumental in supporting the Kingitanga movement, and granted Te Kooti (who had been arrested and exiled by Crown without trial) sanctuary in Te Urewera in 1868. As a result, ”a scorched earth campaign was unleashed against Tūhoe; people were imprisoned and killed, their cultivations and homes destroyed, and stock killed or run off. Through starvation, deprivation and atrocities at the hands of the government… Tūhoe submitted to the Crown.” (Te Ara Encyclopedia)  The way in which the most recent arrests were carried out at Te Urewera, and the subsequent abuse of the term ‘terrorist’, only adds to the very real terror visited on the Tūhoe people by the New Zealand government over the past 140 years. As Tame Iti has said, the “mana of Tuhoe that has been compromised, trampled by Pakeha [for more than 100 years]… so this is not a new experience for me today.” (read more)

Dr. Paul Buchanan points out that, “All of [the charges] can be dealt with by criminal law. There’s no reason to criminalise political dissent or to make a separate category of political crimes that constitute terrorism… In liberal democracies we have an absolute right to dissent and in dissenting we are actually allowed the absolute right to misbehave… It’s only dictatorships, authoritarian regimes that criminalise dissent and make the term terrorism synonymous with dissent.” (see more) Unarguably, owning firearms without a license breaks New Zealand law. However, in labeling political activists ‘terrorists’ it is clear that something other than ‘the law’ was at stake for both the police and the government. Even though the charges of terrorism were dropped, the association of activism (and in particular Maori activism) with terrorism has been made. The function of the term ‘terrorist’ in this particular discourse is clearly meaningful, in the sense that it undermines the legitimacy of political dissent where Maori and activism are concerned in terms of mainstream media and public opinion. The damage has been done.

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“Pieces of Me, No. 1 & 2″ (Photochop, Thistle Hall, 2011, curated by Markus McIntyre)

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

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Two A1 collages using images of Britney Spears, made for Photochop III (curated by Markus McIntyre, Thistle Hall, 2011); “A collective exhibition of collage images from print using photo chop, scissors and glue… salut[ing] the dawn of photo lithography, the 120 year old tradition of processing images for the mass print medium.” My Britney collages were laminated and displayed on various doors around the gallery, in the way that a poster might appear in a teenage bedroom. The exhibition also featured work by Claire Harris, Will Frew, Robyn Kenealy, Ruby Nekk, Sam Stephens, Don Smith, Curtis Nixon and Di Dixon (among others).

On the opening night I also performed as Supercomposer for the first time (see below) alongside The Unknown Rockstar and The Doll, reproducing a number of my Britney Spears + Noise = HOT remixes in a live setting (and some other bits and pieces, including a HOT Jay-Z vs. Kevin Drumm mashup).

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“On this week at Thistle Hall is the biennial PhotoChop exhibition, centered around the art of collage… with a selection of fine works including repurposed postcards, a scenic Urewera setting for Willie Apiata and a couple of fine posters celebrating the golden years of Britney Spears.” (Wellingtonista, read more)

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“Tuhoe Never Signed the Fucking Treaty” (Black and red vivid on N.Z. wall map, 2011)

Sunday, June 12th, 2011

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Work produced for the Concerned Citizens auction, to raise money and awareness for the 2007 ‘terror raid’ arrestees, many of whom were Tūhoe activists; “18 people in New Zealand are currently being bankrupted by the cost of fighting questionable charges following the ‘Operation 8’ raids conducted around the country on October 15th, 2007. To address these concerns, more than 50 artists from around New Zealand are exhibiting their work in the hope of raising funds (and awareness) to support the victims of the raids and their families.” (read more)

This work sold for $200, which contributed to the jaw-dropping total of $6500 raised in just 3 short days, with all funds going to the arrestees and their families. Other artists involved in the exhibition included Tao Wells, Arlo Edwards, Kerry Ann Lee, Roger Morris, Hannah Salmon, Ellen Rodda, Bryce Galloway, Campbell Kneale, Richard Meros and Robyn Kenealy (see full list here).

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“Stolen Land” (NZ Parliament/Thistle Hall, 2011)

Saturday, August 13th, 2011

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Conceptual/sculptural piece exhibited in two parts: 1) the confiscation of a patch of land from Parliament grounds, and 2) this piece of land exhibited as part of The Briefcase Project (group show, curated by Richard Bartlett, Thistle Hall, 8-14 August). 19 artists were featured in the show, including Hannah Salmon, Ben Knight, Lance Ravenswood, Tui Harrington and Turrence Turner (among others).

“My favourite pieces are the visual discourse on the concept of “stolen land” and a beautiful piece of sound design, delivered on a very old school reel machine.” (Martyn Pepperell, Word on the Street)

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