Working in photography, textiles and painting, Conor Clarke (Ngāi Tahu), Emma Fitts and Oliver Perkins explore ideas of perception, both how we gain awareness through our senses, and the way in which something is interpreted or understood. Bulletin invited three writers to respond to the work in progress, to consider the materials and ways of making that each artist utilises. The resulting texts from Abby Cunnane, Fayen d’Evie and Chloe Lane are exploratory themselves, and offer us new ways of thinking about the works they relate to – as sensory items, as skins, as lichen.
Marti Friedlander is my favourite Aotearoa photographer. I don’t remember the first time I saw one of her photographs, but they always feel familiar and give me a sense of warm nostalgia. Her work captures a time in New Zealand I miss – primary school cheekiness, shopping on a Saturday morning, travelling to family farms in Timaru and North Canterbury. A simpler life.
Nathan Pōhio: We’re going to do this whānau styles.
Areta Wilkinson: Totally. We’re going to indigenise the interview process.
NP: Tēnā koe Areta, ngā mihi nui. Your project Moa-Hunter Fashions is primarily concerned with, or comes from, thinking around whakapapa and geological history, so let’s start by talking about that, and how it pertains to what you’re doing in the exhibition.
Peter Vangioni: It’s late June, and you haven’t been outside for 16 weeks? Is that right? How are you and Barbara coping with the shelter in place order and are you able to work under these conditions?
Max Gimblett: Well, I’ve been out to put the garbage out twice a week—I cross the pavement and come back to the door. Some people are out there walking with their masks. Barbara is super cautious, you know because of our age, we can’t even come close to anybody. But we are doing very well in this lockdown, and have no plans to leave the loft.
I want to tell you a story. A ‘curiodyssey’ (which by the way, I thought I’d made up but is the name of an actual museum in California). So, a curiodyssey of happy places, told through the science of wellbeing.
Europeans first imagined New Zealand as “a garden and a pasture in which the best elements of British society might grow into an ideal nation”... When the smoke of the colonists’ fires cleared at the end of the 19th century, New Zealand had become a different country. Māori had lost their most precious life-support system. Only in the hilliest places did the forest still come down to the sea. Huge slices of the ancient ecosystem were missing, evicted and extinguished. Our histories, however, have had neither the sense of place nor ecological consciousness to explain what has happened.
There has been a healthy debate going in relation to Germany’s Covid-19 emergency fund, which allocated the equivalent of NZ$900 million to artists and freelancers, with extra support from the Berlin municipality, leading some to call it an ‘arts-led’ (as opposed to ‘business-led’) approach to recovery. Some in Germany are claiming this will have better long-term economic outcomes, whilst addressing social and wellbeing recoveries at the same time. Others – without necessarily denying the first claim – fear gentrification and the instrumentalisation of arts, when it’s overtly being used as a tool for the economy.
Tusiata Avia reads her own poem Lick, written in response to the work of the same name by Angela Tiatia, in the exhibition Te Wheke: Pathways Across Aotearoa at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū.