In Gothic Swamptown (Sodom on Avon), the clockwork of exhibition openings continues apace, churning out more bright young things than the New Zealand art world knows what to do with (poor dears). Yesterday I was even accused of being an elitist snob for reading Kathy Acker on the university bus. Its enough to make you cry into your latté. The public debate over Andrew Drummonds Millennium Bridge and Neil Dawsons Chalice (a giant cone-shaped maryjane in Cathedral Square) has faded like bluejeans, but remains a haunting presence in the background.
One of the more recent happenings of recent months (the product of Chicha art flaneur and impresario Dan Arps) happened in the Linwood Community Art Centre in the context of a celebration of the diverse neighbourhood. Linwood is actually quite a harmless (well, mostly harmless) suburb. If you live there, you call it Christchurch East. If you dont live there, you call it Crimwood. Quite by accident I toddled along (actually I was flat hunting, aided by the lovely Rosemary of the Physics Room posse - and her Rosemobile) and bumped into the rest of the kunstklatch. I was stunned by the riotous celebrations of varied ethnicities and nations, admired the saris and strange hats, ogled the nice arse on one of the demonstrators of South American dancing. I ate hangi.
Inside the building proper was some art. The exhibition was called The Argonaut. It was largely an Arps Happening. Dan was lying face down on the floor in a Donald Duck head, an apron, and boxer shorts with plastic buttocks. He was trussed up like a Houdini turkey and appeared to be being whipped by small children (who for the most part seemed more interested in playing the free Nintendo in the playhut which was also part of the show) while a pantomime horse (with Emma Bugden as the horses arse) circled anxiously. "What does this mean?" I wailed, gnashing my teeth and beating my breast with a stone. Apparently Dan has taken his practice of tying and taping up other objects to its obvious conclusion.
Also in the exhibition, Ina Johan took a far more subtle approach to audience participation. Visitors could choose a text from a small shelf of books contributed by the Linwood Public Library. In return, one had to write down a narrative in the book provided by the artist (ah!).
The Argonaut turns out to have been a group show largely dominated by staff and students from the New Zealand College of Arse and Design, which explains the variety in type and quality of the works. Installations sprawled over each other until the place looked like an explosion in an opshop. Other artists in the show (primarily Linwood residents) were forced to fit in. Rudolf Boelees loaded shopping trolley was particularly poignant, because, as the MC rather tryingly insisted on pointing out every ten minutes, "Were not in Merivale you know!" (Merivale, of course, being one of Chichas more affluent suburban reserves for ghastly nouveau riche oick parvenu Bourgeoisie).
Another exhibition of exceptional breathtaking beauty, was a show by Saskia Leek at the Jonathan Smart. It did come across as something a little thrown together from odds and ends at the last minute, but Saskias ethereal 1970s-nostalgic naive pop-kitsch is always a joy to see.
The High Street Project (womaned by my bosom buddy, the lovely Sally - who comes in any colour so long as its black) has had some quite excellent shows by students of Canterburys School of Fine Arse, New Zild College of Arse and Design and several other individuals. Their shows have been getting a lot better lately and Ms McIntyre has brought a much needed-sophistication to the place. The kids are all right.
Thats about it really, respet yo bitches: peace - out.
Andrew Paul Wood (b. Timaru, 1975) is a writer/art critic-historian currently writing an MA thesis on Theo Schoon (b. 1916 of Dutch parents in the Dutch Indies (Indonesia), later coming to New Zealand and getting very excited about Maori petroglyphs) as a European Modernist. Mr Wood thinks "Kids in America" was a very cool song.
Dan Arps in performance for The Argonaut.