Exhibition Preview: Wednesday 4 July at 5.30pm
Exhibition Runs: 5 July – 5 August 2018
Saturday 7 July, 2pm: Exhibition talk with Wendelien Bakker and Jamie Hanton
In March 2018, Wendelien Bakker travelled from her home in Auckland to Central Otago to pan for gold. She spent three weeks in and around the Arrow and Twelve Mile Delta rivers working eight-hour days over the pan in a personal quest for riches.
In New Zealand, the ability to support yourself, and a family if necessary, working exclusively as an artist is an incredibly tough endeavour requiring extreme levels of mental fortitude and persistence. This simple formula does not even begin to acknowledge the requisite well-connected networks, years of training and experimentation, and, of course, the fortune to be in the right place at the right time. It is a daily struggle to find paid opportunities in a highly competitive field. Bakker’s time in Central Otago and this exhibition are the result of her ongoing interest in what it means to be successful, or prosper, as an artist in 2018.
In the world of high-flying start-ups and entrepreneurs, the motivational phrase ‘rise and grind’ is an industry epithet. Instagram is inundated with representations of status and success sustained by the neo-liberal dream; a dream that ignores any kind of systemic inequality and where opportunities are created from nothing but hard work. In Prospecting, Bakker questions the sustainability of creative careers in a system geared towards financial value. Consisting of filmed and written documentation of Bakker’s panning expedition, as well as a new sculptural work, Prospecting foregrounds the conflation of artistic labour and what could be considered manual labour as Bakker performs both simultaneously on a day-to-day basis, even when not suffering the privations of campsite living.
As Bakker states plainly in the entry from Day Two in her journal kept during her time panning, “This project is definitely about failure.” See more.
Bakker's journal, with an essay by Victoria Wynne-Jones, is available to purchase as a limited edition publication (100 only) designed by Blue Monday Collective for $12.50. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to order.
Wendelien Bakker (1987) has recently completed her MFA at Elam, University of Auckland after her BFA at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in The Netherlands. Bakker’s practice is project based and conceptually driven, navigated through a DIY approach and a strong reliance on the individual and the environment. This self-reliance adds mentally and physically performative elements to otherwise largely research-based projects.