Nau mai, haere mai, welcome to eyeCONTACT, a forum built to encourage art reviews and critical discussion about the visual culture of Aotearoa New Zealand. I'm John Hurrell its editor, a New Zealand writer, artist and curator. While Creative New Zealand and other supporters are generously paying me and other contributors to review exhibitions over the following year, all expressed opinions are entirely our own.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Things Russian

Last month when I was looking at Richard Dale's Article 27 show and the table of books organised by Xin Cheng, there were two books in particular that I found especially rivetting. One was Vladimir Arkhipov's Home-Made: Contemporary Russian Folk Artifacts and the other was Half-Letter Press's Public Phenomena.

Half-Letter Press (Chicago) look startlingly impressive as a small publishing firm that focus on very unusual community projects, and the Arkhipov book not only has terrifically clear photographs of each home-made utensil but the writing on each by their creator (or creator's relative) is beautifully vivid and informative. You really get a sense of a crumbling economy and how hard it is to get many things that we in Aotearoa take for granted.

All this brings to mind the visit next month by two Russian artists (representing the Factory of Found Clothing collective) for a UNITEC residency where they show work at MIC Toi Rerehiko and Snowwhite. They also have a project where there is a search for a saintly person similar to Dostoyevsky's Prince Myshkin (The Idiot). I such people exist, and if so, would they want to be identified?

Their visit is part of this year's Auckland Festival and the visual arts component looks remarkably strong. Usually theatre, dance and music dominate in such events but this time round there seems to be an exceptionally good line up of art shows. Of course we have to wait and see how the dozen or so exhibitions/performances turn out, but from the online blurbs, the selection committee have done a very good job. Auckland art lovers are in for a real treat.

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