Saturday, 27 August 2016

Reading list, 27 August 2016

Bulky, heavy, pricey - yet flourishing - Carolina Miranda in the LA Times on the continuing success of art book publishing

Promoting audio guides and other mobile experiences in museums - useful points from Frankly Green and Webb

What it really takes to get a perfect street style shot - actually engrossing stuff from Elle's street style photographer Tyler Joe

The volunteers who do the dirty work for the Field Museum's mammoth bird collection - covered in depth by Joan Cary for the Chicago Tribune

A blog post from Ed Rodley from earlier this year, resurfaced this week on Twitter, about the difference in depth and width between old paper-based exhibition development files and more current electronic filing, in terms of our ability to understand our own and other institution's changing practices
When Times live videos are good — and many are — they capture an immediate experience, feel spontaneous and put the viewer in a front-row seat with a hand on the controls.
Facebook Live: Too Much, Too Soon - Liz Spayd, the New York Times' public editor, gives a critical review of the newspaper's Facebook Live instant video work.

Charles Desmarais' 'Unraveling SFMOMA’s deal for the Fisher collection' for the San Francisco Chronicle has been getting a lot of play amongst American bloggers this week; it's behind a paywall but this link worked for me and hopefully will for you too.

Rebuilding a Former Slave’s House in the Smithsonian - the way entire structures are shown in American museums weirds me out a bit, but this is special.

On the to-read-on-a-slow-day pile: the NMC / Balboa Park Online Collaborative museum digital trends report (PDF).

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Reading list, 20 August 2016

Why Brands Are Building Their Own 'Museums' Where Immersion Is the Price of Entry - AdWeek

The Oppressive Gospel of Minimalism - another kicker from Kyle Chaka for the New York Times

Take Me (I'm Yours) - the Jewish Museum runs a Kickstarter campaign to raise $ for production costs for an exhibition exploring concepts of value and participation.

House Arrest - Nate Freeman's long form examination of how Sotheby's is changing for Art News

David's Ankles - re-examines the already-covered story of how Michelangelo's sculpture is is fatally flawed, worth clicking through for Maurizio Cattelan's amazing hero image.

Two fantastically insightful interview on Tusk: On The Level with Emma Ng and Tuakana with Matthew Oliver.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Millennial child

This essay was my contribution to The Third Enjoy Retrospective Five Year Catalogue, edited by Louise Rutledge and available from the Enjoy website for a value-packed 20 bucks. Thanks to Louise and Emma Ng for inviting me to write for this.

Millennial child  

Enjoy and I appeared in Wellington in the same year: I moved here to study art history at Victoria University, and Enjoy materialised on Cuba Street, a fresh new space for contemporary art practice. My perspective on what Enjoy offers has changed in pace with my own involvement in the art world: as a young arts reviewer, Enjoy was where I went to seek out edgier presentations than those I saw elsewhere; as an arts viewer it was an essential part of my rounds of the galleries; today, it’s where I go to locate emergent voices in art making, curating, and writing. It’s fair to say I can’t imagine Wellington without Enjoy.

I wrote the above earlier this year when Enjoy asked me for a letter of support for a funding application. I was pleased to be asked to support the gallery - flattered, even - because for a good while I was a little intimidated by Enjoy's effortless cool, the contemporary language of the work they showed. Scrolling through the (new, bounteous) online exhibition archive I realised there was a lag of two or three years between arriving in Wellington as a third year arts student and becoming a regular at the old gallery on the other side of Cuba Street.

Wellington was on a visual arts high at the turn of the millennium. The Adam Art Gallery opened in September 1999, and Te Papa (a mixed bag for the arts audience, sure, but perhaps the single biggest moment in Aotearoa New Zealand's museological history) had opened in February 1998; in Porirua, Pataka opened September that same year. In 1999 Massey University had also merged with Wellington Polytechnic, establishing the College of Design, Fine Art and Music. There was a new concentration of established artists putting down roots, and a new cohort of younger artists and art students to fill a space like Enjoy.

Something else came to Wellington in 2000 - the fifth Labour government. Technically, Helen Clark became Prime Minister on 10 December 1999, but let's not let a matter of 21 days stand between us and aligning this auspicious moment with the new millennium. In addition to being our first elected female Prime Minister, Clark took the role of Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage. And boy, could you tell. Even as a student, I could feel the concentration of energy and belief around the visual arts in Wellington (edged with a deep border of frustration and betrayal amongst those older than me over the treatment of contemporary art at Te Papa).

This was the environment in which I came of age. It was one that made optimism around the visual arts feel natural - and one that made the leadership of women feel equally natural. In addition to the lodestar of Helen Clark, in my nearer orbit were Jenny Harper as head of Art History at Victoria, Tina Barton in the same department, Zara Stanhope as the inaugural director at the Adam, the redoubtable Cheryll Sotheran at Te Papa and Paula Savage at City Gallery Wellington. I held part-time jobs at various stages in all four institutions.

Enjoy was reflective of these trends - both towards the investment in a Wellington arts scene (an art scene that could lead the nation) and towards female leadership. From Charlotte Huddleston onwards, Enjoy has been exclusively helmed by women; a fact remarked upon in with some rancour in the first Enjoy Five Year Retrospective Catalogue by Tao Wells, an original Enjoy member.

Today much has changed, and as I look around me that buoyant positivity that I took for granted at 21 has dissolved. The National government is seemingly unassailable, and the most important announcement from central government to the arts sector this year has been a warning that more belt-tightening is needed as predicted income from Lotteries falls. While we no longer bask in the warm glow of Clark's championing of the arts, on the upside we do see increased female leadership across our art galleries, and the beginning of I what I hope is a generational change away from Pakeha dominance.

And we see the endurance, and maturation, of Cuba Street’s scrappy artist-run space. A move across the road to the same floor as Peter McLeavey Gallery placed the gallery literally on the same footing as the establishment. While still the most freewheeling figure on the Wellington visual art scene, Enjoy is definitely an “institution” these days, a place with a whakapapa of staff and supporters, artists and projects.

It's not easy to stay optimistic in the arts. But I think Enjoy has cracked the nut of that problem. Stay focused on nurturing new talent, stay focused on encouraging experimentation, stay focused on knowing and sustaining your community of interest. Draw your energy from these actions. Use that energy to support others. Kia kaha, Enjoy, and happy sweet 16.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Reading list, 13 August 2016

The Met posts record attendance figures, but attributes part of its current financial strictures to an increase in younger visitors who are paying less for their voluntary admission charges (following a lawsuit where the Met was forced to change the wording on their admission policy, from 'recommended' to 'suggested').

As reported in the above NYT article by Robin Pobegrin, alongside redundancies, the Met is predicted to reduce the number of temporary exhibitions and start shopping in its own closet (making shows from its own collection to reduce the costs involved in loaning works) to continue with cost-saving. Interestingly, the situation has echoes to 2009, when Thomas P. Campbell took over the Met - facing a dive in its endowment due to the GFC, the museum dropped programming and shed staff. At that same time Campbell announced a revitalisation of the museum's digital work, a campaign that led to the hiring of Sree Sreenivasan, former Chief Digital Officer at Columbia University. Now Sreenivasan is among the laid-off staff, and has just taken a new role as CDO for NYC.

This is one of many shake-ups in the small, tight world of museum's digital leadership: Seb Chan from Cooper Hewitt to ACMI, Nancy Proctor from Baltimore Museum of Art to full-time Museums and the Web, Shelley Bernstein from Brooklyn Museum to the Barnes Foundation, Rob Stein from Dallas Museum of Art to the Alliance of American Museums. There's a fascinating long-form piece of writing to be done about how digital overhauls in museums track with changes in leadership - digital work is relatively flexible, compared to programming and collection development, and is kind of like the canary in the mine of major museum operations. Hmmmm.

In other, shorter, news:

In architecture: Adding - invisibly - to Versailles

In the Olympics: The world of dressage

In New Zealand: Paula Morris's tribute to Peter Gossage

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Reading list, 6 August 2016

When museums shut down.

SFMOMA responds to Lee Rosenbaum's sniffy article about their audio guide not with indignation, but with data.

Teju Coles writes for the New York Times Magazine on The Superhero Photographs of the Black Lives Matter Movement, a rare example of a arts critic grappling with the depiction of world events as they happen.

Hyperallergic's new(ish) podcast is showing promise: start with the latest, on women artists in the Ab-Ex movement, because Linda Nochlin. (And also because those of us who are part of the apparatus that determines whose work gets shown and whose stories get remembered have nobody to blame for invisibility and erasure except ourselves.)

Le Guin might have had Roke, Atuan and Gont, but Martin O'Leary has built a naming language to generate fantastical place names.

SEGD (not sure who that is, but hey) have published a list of of the 20 most influential exhibition designs of the 21st century to date. What fascinates me here is that exhibition design (ie. scaffolding to support object display, narration, and visitor interactions) are not differentiated from artworks that are experiential.

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Reading list, 30 July 2016

A really lovely piece of writing by Tina Barton accompanies a selection of Pip Culbert's work at Artspace.

In which women continue to agonise over their voices.

Google has updated its Arts and Culture website. It has a lot of slick features (Mary Cassatt's work organised by colour, Gothic art organised by chronology) and three galleries (including the AGNSW) are participating in the Art Recognizer, which looks like it uses Google's image search / image recognition to present you with curated web information when you hold your phone up to a (a? all?) work. I'm genuinely curious as to whether this art-discovery tool will reach more people via Google than it would if pushed out through a museum's brand.
I’ve always called the archive her lover. To marry one man, she negotiated owning another man, whom she’s devoted her life to. It’s a weird love triangle, and I’m the other woman.
Alice Gregory for the New Yorker on the archives of architect Luis Barragán, and artist Jill Magid's project around how the archive's owners restricts access (involves diamonds, and descriptions of people such as his taste in women was particular: willowy, dark, with, as Poniatowska put it, “the big, hollow eyes of someone who has suffered.”)

Artists, architects and curators on what does and doesn't make a great museum (from a displaying-art point of view).

Shelley Bernstein on introducing visitor photography at The Barnes (or not).

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Reading list, 23 July 2016

Hilton Als profiles Nan Goldin for the New Yorker as 'The Ballad of Sexual Dependency' goes on show at MOMA.

Inside the world's chicest cult - Marisa Meltzer attends the annual Spirit Weavers gathering. While I think it's a bit stink to go to events like this just to shit all over them, this is still an engrossing read.

Art (and more) writer Anthony Byrt interviewed by Naomi Arnold about his piece on poker tournaments and approach to writing in general (podcast)
A hundred years ago the male body was transformed. Two arms became one; legs were replaced by wheels; chins and necks slid together; noses pointed sideways instead of down. As the wounded of Flanders and France started to arrive home, it became clear that many of them could never be restored to physical wholeness. Instead, with the help of the very technology that had blown them apart, they would be reconfigured into new shapes for the coming century.
Kathryn Hughes for the Guardian on the history, social and artistic contexts behind 'The Body Extended: Sculpture and Prosthetics', a new show at the Henry Moore Institute.

Nina Simon on two types of audience-centered museums: customer and user.

I guess we all have to read at least one article about Pokemon Go and museums.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Reading list, 16 July 2016

Terry Dresbach, costume designer for Outlander, on costume design as the 'women's ghetto' of film-making, and the detail that goes into this show.

Shelley Bernstein, recently relocated from the Brooklyn Museum to Philadelphia's Barnes Foundation, on what her job title, Deputy Director of Digital Initiatives and Chief Experience Officer, really means.

E-Tangata keeps on smashing out the best interview features in Aotearoa New Zealand, with broadcaster and comms professional Sefita Hao'uli.

The 'Netflix of museums' - Adrian Hon's VR Will Break Museums.

4,000 objects go on display simultaneously at the New Museum in The Keeper.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

On the radio

On National Radio's Nine to Noon today I looked at Jeremy Deller's performance work marking the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, and the effects of Brexit on the British art market.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Reading list, 9 July 2016

I quickly realised that what I didn’t want was a static memorial that the public went to to be sad. ... In the 21st century I felt we had do something different. So I thought about the memorial being human, and travelling round the country. It would take itself to the public rather than the public taking itself to the memorial.
Jeremy Deller's We’re Here Because We’re Here is the most affecting and subtle (yet spectacular in its planning and spread) WWI commemorative happening I have come across.

Renzo Piano's beautiful, empty,  Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre in Athens reviewed by Ollie Wainwright for The Guardian.

An insight into how printers and photographers work together - Ruedi Hofmann, printer for Richrd Avedon, and his battle to have a suite of prints from the In the American West series authenticated.

An insightful, moving, and revealing article about how social work is being merged into library work in urban centres.

Elizabeth Merritt, director of the Center for the Future of Museums, on removing bias from a recent recruitment for an Education Fellow. Many of the tactics she employed are familiar, the reminder to remove lazy shorthand from job descriptions is useful (though salary banding is often informed by statements like 'requires postgrad degree' so that's an extra layer of wrinkles), but the six months taken to run this process - aieeee.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Reading list, 2 July 2016

Everyone loves a good conservation story: bonus points for being about fancy dresses. The Woman Who Makes the Met's Fashion Exhibits Presentable.

From New York Magazine, a profile of Judith Butler, the quietly-legendary queer theorist and person who introduced the idea of gender as performative.

Take a swig from the big old bottle of internet nostalgia: A Mary Anne with Kristy Rising: On the Enduring Legacy of the Baby-Sitters Club Books on Lenny.

Mihingarangi Forbes on Navigating the waters of Māori broadcasting for the forthcoming book Don't Dream It's Over: Reimagining Journalism in Aotearoa New Zealand, previewed on the Pantograph Punch.

There's not much space (or cash) for critical criticism in the New Zealand art scene these days, and so I've really enjoyed Peter Ireland's EyeContact pieces on 'New Zealand Photography Collected' at Te Papa and the photography collection and exhibitions at Christchurch Art Gallery. While I'm unsure that the true test (or measure) of an institution's commitment to artists who work with photography (at least today) is solo or medium-specific solos, I appreciate both the strong authorial point of view and historical perspective of both these pieces.

Sree Sreenivasan was laid off by the Met after three years as their chief digital officer: Jenni Avins outlines how a social media guru manages their own bad news story.