Looking for the pink/blue girl/boy in this Wellington quarter proved a futile experience. I would have thought it to be a more ubiquitous theme and I did want it to come in theme to this (my last) Wellington round up, but alas... Maybe its because boy/ girl action is the low-culture obsession that we of a more refined appreciation wander monk-like through our white rooms meditating on anything but...
One place I did find plenty of it was in Colin Hodsons no-budget feature length video Shifter. This is the film that was decried by Backchat only to be defended by The Listener. Id heard the film wasnt as good as its predecessor Uncomfortable Comfortable (same leading man, same production team), but I disagree. The criticisms levelled at it smack of novelty fatigue -one dose of no-budget is good for the soul. More than that and we fear the contamination of our production standards.
Anyway, in both films the story limps along with its female/ male lead, as they grope blindly through misplaced affections and sexual tensions. Damn fine that both of these movies made the film festival in their respective years, pissing off all those involved in the colourful shams doled up by the NZ film industry of late. NZ film seems to have been trying to emulate those wacky romps from across the ditch (and falling on its arse).
The director of Uncomfortable - Campbell Walker - has recently departed for some Auckland girl-action, Rock n Roll misadventures touring Shifter (read sex).
Wellington will miss his acerbic wit as the infamous C. Walker (critic, menace). If he can keep his Gall in the City Of Sales then hell be a necessary fly-in-theointment.
Girls-only in Practising Beauty at The Michael Hirchsfield Gallery: Kathy Barry, Maddie Leach, Emma Febvre-Richards and Catherine Bagnall. Sugar and spice and all things nice? Weirdly flimsy curatorial stance on this one.
Boys-only at Love, Enjoy gallerys second rent fundraiser. Slugs and snails of the sublime as most opted for explorations in languid Noise or abstract ambient Electronica. Practising Beauty and Love should have exchanged titles.
Enjoy really kept the wolf from the door with its previous fund-raiser, for which Wellington artists kindly donated works that were sold for just $100 each. Artists names were kept out of the picture, an attempt to encourage genuine appreciation over bargain-bin investment. Enjoy has since received approval of its Creative NZ funding application, so the gallery lives to fight another term as champion of non-dealer explorations.
Not that Enjoy is alone. Something strange seems to be taking root as more and more galleries with non-dealer agendas pop up. I failed to mention The Space in Newtown during my last round up. The Space is a newish performance venue come gallery run by local Free Jazz movers. I havent been there -shame on me. And alas, my man on the scene never turned up with the promised 150 words. Just go there! They run films on Sun Ra and Rahsaan Roland Kirk -say no more.
Fifty 2 Gallery follows the example of New Work Studios with a gallery attached to the owners studio/ office. This gives both galleries some freedom from the profit motive, yet the work on show at both galleries often comes on like design-store chic. Kind of like the Victoria University School of Design show Screens at the Adam (Nov-Feb) at which the Mrs said to me, Its kind of like shopping at The Vault.
At that other Wellington Design School, Massey (to which I owe allegiance cause they pay my rent), there is a new dungeon gallery called The Waiting Room. I like dungeons - being theres like being a kid and hiding under tables. You can tell the design lecturers at Massey are from a fine arts background. The last two shows at time of writing were both plays on the gallery name.
Stuart Shepherd is a boy (man) and Ella Reed is a girl (woman). Handy. The boys waiting room was like a totalitarian Dr Seuss: big friendly wooden machinery wobbled and groaned and threatened to break down as we sat on utility furniture watching a flickering soundless TV. The girls waiting room was more banal and somehow more frightening: tea and biscuits and hot water, a jigsaw-puzzle and an artists print. All arranged meticulously. This, surely, is the real scene of torture.
In 2001, the germ of an art school will be taking root within Massey. It seems like a necessary development for Wellington with all this non-dealer action taking place. Wellington hasnt had a big artist community. I wish I could imagine the current momentum continuing without an art school, but somehow I cant.
Hamish McKay seemed unusually philanthropic of late. Videos and installation and all manner of unsaleable shit. Hamish assures me that he can move even video cassettes at $2000 per. Huge overseas apparently. New Zealand is finally beginning to recognise the value and value of things other than stone tablets. September saw Spaghetti Dharma - video by Lionel B, Ronnie van Hout and Daniel Malone. Voodoo apocalyptic, an end-of days religiosity about it all. When I next visited Hamish McKays I thought the place was closed for renovation or at least between shows. On closer inspection the strewn junk turned out to be the guts of various electronic apparatus, in communion with some kind of obsessive alchemical process. This L. Budd show furthered the thematic forays of Spaghetti Dharma.
At the City Gallery was Parihaka - the art of passive resistance. Not knowing anything about Parihaka I wandered the ground floor aimlessly. Where were those concise few paragraphs that would seal it all in absolute context? OK, people are lazy animals and perhaps I should have known about Parihaka already but the fact remains that I didnt. The gallerys failing me and all the other bods whore in the dark but ready to learn. I found some informative videos on show upstairs and so the mystery of Parihaka did unfold. Moving, close to tears. The girl at the desk said that this was the common response. Older people especially, drag themselves quivering up to the desk and pronounce, I had no idea! Everyone should see this show. The works commissioned for the event are a mixed bag - for me, the story itself is the real prize:
During the mid to late 1800s, the Maori prophets Te Whiti and Tohu stood as the spiritual leaders of Parihaka in Taranaki. Rather than rise up in arms during the land confiscations of the time these two men preached a doctrine of proactive non-violence. Never were they provoked into acts of violence as their assailants hoped. Remember, this was decades before Ghandi. At its worst, the settlement was all but destroyed, with the falsely arrested shipped off to die in the cold labour camps of Dunedin. Through all this, their nobility and fortitude remained strong.
Bryce Galloway. Hirsuit, balding, Punk-Rock hasbeen with bad teeth and negligible career prospects seeks olive-skinned, shaved-headed, heavily tattood, horny sex acrobat who likes to do the dog.