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.

Friday, July 31, 2009


Dare. Truth. Promise
St. Paul St Gallery 3 (39 Symonds St)
29 July - 1 August 2009

This exhibition is based on the supposition that there is no separation between an art work and the contextual envelope made from the history of the artist, their inspirations, background circumstances and her or his intentions.

In fact it goes further. It says lets have six artists prepare six catalogue entries for a show, record them reading those six statements, play it in a designed space with a sound system, and make that a ‘collaborative’ sound work. Forget the original impetus being discussed - which was video, painted or collage artworks. Let the auxiliary replace the primary. The footnotes replace the essay. Descriptive spoken words are substituted for the initially envisaged art experiences.

In my view, this is hogwash. Pure piffle. That there is a state of infinite regress here where research and mental imagining becomes an ever-receding surrogate for a finite physical construction.

I’m not denying that the six recordings are a collaborative artwork because if artists choose to make such declarative claims involving ontological status, who am I to contradict them? I will say though that the work is conceptually and experientially poor. That Natalia Birgel, Alan Joy, Sam Leitch, Lee McGarva, Seilala Sini and Vaimaila Urale have wasted their energies doing this. They’ve been sidetracked when they should have concentrated on their original non-aural projects, perhaps constructing them separately in isolation.

Thank you to the artists for the images.


Simon said...

Are you kidding! You have completely killed this work/show all on your own John. Never before have i witnessed an art writer disappear so spectacularly into a black-hole of their own poor/mis/pre and just plan bad conceptions. Your head, in this instance, is clearly so far up your own posterior that not even a Heimlich could stop you chocking on your own self-congratulatory ontological vomit.

How about leaving your well worn (and sticky paged) copy of 'Being and Time' under your mattress along with the rest of the stuff you use to masturbate your brain, take a deep breathe and re-asses the concept, intention, and delivery of
a show made by a group of third year visual art undergrads who unlike you have not suckled on the breasts of dead Frenchmen for the last 60 years.

Consider perhaps the possibility that, in spite of the ongoing time and effort each of these 6 artists has put into their studio practice (whatever that maybe) every day for the past 3 years, they remained critically dissatisfied with their artistic production. That they put greater expectations on the quality of their work than they are currently delivering. And that, unlike most of their contemporaries, they were both self-aware and honest enough (with themselves and each other) to openly acknowledge and discuss this.

Further, you might consider that, upon their open disclosure of this apocalyptic revaluation (apocalyptic in the context of their forced participation in public exhibition as part of their degree) they were able to find an equally brave, successful, lateral, engaging, and collaborative solution.

In spite of what your clearly intelligent eye was able to glean from (and inject into) the small self-published catalog that accompanied the show, the intention of the artists was not grounded in the "supposition that there is no separation between an art work and the contextual envelope made from the history of the artist, their inspirations, background circumstances and her or his intentions", but rather in the astute observation that the 'primary production' (your words not mine) of each artist is simply not that good, be that in its ability to adequately capture and communicate intended and unintended point of interest, or in the maturity of the craft evident in its construction.

Rather than being side tracked, i would suggest alternatively that this group of students (3rd year students John, some of whom are only 20 and all of whom making, learning, and thinking about art for less than 2 and a half years) have just learnt one of the secretes to art and to life: in your greatest weakness lies your greatest strength - or more specifically for Alan,Natalia, Sam Lee Seilala and Vaimaila (and as they so elegantly demonstrated), in the unsatisfactory nature of your work lies your most satisfying show).

Were you as insightful compassionate as you are so deeply intellectual and curmudgeonly you would have no doubt considered the above as did I and thus been able to actually experience this show as the humble (and quite beautiful) offering it was. I for one was more than happy to find myself amidst a faultlessly constructed installation that was both orderly and disorientating, comforting and confusing, detached and personal, gentle, authentic, engaging and refreshing... rather than confronted by amature porn, imitation cave painting, or macaroni on paper instead of cheese.

The only piffle here is the kind your art criticism so regularly chokes on. The kind that make statements about infinity, regress, mental imaginings, surrogates and finite physical constructions (see lines 12 to 14). The kind that fails to see the trees from the wood. The kind that completely, and convincingly misses the point.

But thanks for thanking the artists for the images after your unconsidered slating of there work - not at all acrimonious if your were wondering. What did these guys ever do to you?


John Hurrell said...

Simon, I write reviews that are blunt. Calculatedly so. That's my style. I'm not out to win friends, only to bring art exhibition issues to the surface. To interrupt the silence.

I'm very pleased you are generating a discussion here. As you say, these artists have done nothing to me. I don't doubt they are thoroughly nice human beings. But I got an invite to the show, its a public exhibition, so I'm expressing an opinion. I'm doing them a favour. I'm serious.

I think my review is right on the button, but you keep playing these tearful violins, insisting all six artists are plagued by crippling self-doubt (Where's the evidence?). Forgive my directness, but you are talking sentimental ballyhoo.

Simon said...


Once again you have entirely missed the point. There are no violins in my orchestra, and sentimentality is not one of my strengths.

As for 'evidence' it was right in front of your face last Wednesday night but as usual you were blinded by you own mental imaginings... which is, as a member of the public, both your prerogative and right, however as a self proclaimed artist curator and most important vocal critic it is also my right (and that of the public for and to whom you supposedly speak) to expect more.

Check you dictionary dude. words like compassion and consideration have much richer means (and implications in my comment) than tearful sympathy. Further, my final comment was directed at yours, rather than at your review. 'Thank you to the artists for the images' was acrimonious, pretentious and entirely unnecessary. While your review was pure piffle, it was only this that left a bad taste in my mouth - as does your absurdly arrogant and manipulative positioning of yourself as some kind of self-styled 'catalyst' or 'agitator' 'interrupting the silence' to generate dialogue and discussion where without you none would exist, that serves only to distance yourself from your writing and strip it of the kind flexibility and insightfulness that is as equally absent from the history books of modernity at large.

As i suspected you would, you failed to address the crux of my comment (although it was clearly obscured by all those broken violins), but then how could you? As to do so requires a flexibility your single mindedness has always sidelined. Intelligent discussion can be so much richer than the kind of detached and polar rhetoric you direct.

And don't worry John, of course I 'forgive your directness', after all its for my own good, and the good of all! Praise fucking be!
But let me offer you this little kernel of my own experiential wisdom, while directness may be the fastest and most triumphant way to your destination, it the journey that informs your view.


John Hurrell said...

Okay, Simon, let's calm down a little. It's my fault, I did provoke you - especially with the violins comment.

When thanking the artists, I assure you I was sincere. The photographs are good, I asked for some images, and the artists were very helpful. I appreciate it.

Let me clarify something. Words like 'compassion' have no relevance for anybody writing reviews. They are trying to assess a project, in this case a public exhibition. When I get invited to visit such shows the people asking me to come know I'm not interested in Public Relations, and that I will speak frankly. I have no option but to do that.

I also believe that any publicity is good publicity, that whatever I say, people will chat about the show, the artists, and perhaps my opinions. That is good for everybody.

Also, despite what somebody like Ralph likes to imply about horrid critics, I do not believe I have the last word. I throw my opinions out into the pond and watch the ripples.The beauty of online dialogue is that people like yourself can respond very quickly.It's great.It is so different from hardcopy mags where it is such a hassle having to butter up the editor if you want to contest something in a review, and wait for ages before a letter gets published.

I really believe that the more online talk the better. The virtues of silence (claimed by some) is deeply destructive.

John Ward Knox said...

"Let me clarify something. Words like 'compassion' have no relevance for anybody writing reviews"

Hello. I beg to differ. I haven't seen the show in question, so I can't comment on issues of the shows calibre but I would like to comment on the implications of statements such as these.

Making such a statement puts you in a very unique position, in that you claim an intellectual domain unconcerned with corporeal and emotional existence, unless they are framed in a categorical way.

Of course compassion has a place in art criticism. Saying that compassion is not a valid term in which to discuss art is like saying noses are not a valid subject when discussing faces.

Because you are not a hardwired computer, I also disagree that you do not have a choice. I think any position which is unable or unwilling to consider the human ramifications of human endeavor is a position which is untenable.

In previous reviews where you have been challenged, and in this one, you insist on your right to speak frankly. From what I have read, nobody has argued this point, of course we all have the right to speak frankly in all situations. What I and seemingly others take issue with, is the means by which you create your positions. They rely on a pool of connections and information which is specific to your own research and interests, and are sometimes substantially lacking foundation and support. It is when you create such positions that people take issue with your opinion, not with the opinion per se, but because the opinion is not supported by the contextual knowledge to lend it the weight of authority you claim for it.

I am not arguing the validity of information at your disposal, just that at times the opinions and the context do not meet. This is true of anybody with an opinion but the interstice between claim and reality are sometimes alarmingly large.

I get concerned when anybody claims that terms like compassion are irrelevant, because at the end of the day, art isn't all that important, certainly less so than the people who create it, and those who would view it.

John Hurrell said...

Great to hear from you, John, and much of what you say I agree with. However I believe I am correct in saying that compassion has no place in writing criticism. A reviewer is trying to assess the work, and not be swayed by personal or biographical details of the artist. Or the emotional content of the narrative.

I think that feeling as a quality in an artwork – an equivalent for ‘nose’ in your facial analogy - is something else again. Something I see as a mix of formal and semantic ingredients. In other words, compassion or empathy is pure narrative, but feeling is vaguer, more general and has a formal component mixed in with it.

Note I’m not advocating that we forget ethics or abandon morality in our daily lives - and even if I did, so what? There is no such thing as objective moral knowledge. I'm arguing that for writing reviews we shouldn’t be quickly swayed by moral positions we identify with - or are repulsed by – as some sort of indicator of quality in an artwork.

Your sixth paragraph is hard to contest. The clearest writing I’ve ever seen from you. Perhaps at times I am a little lazy, maybe sometimes even prone to bluffing. However we all know that online communication is easy, and if you are so sure that on occasion ‘the interstices between claim and reality are alarmingly large’ well tell me and the site readers so. Argue an alternative case if you think I’m wrong. I always welcome reactions to my reviews. I see myself as providing the first word of commentary for exhibitions to which others can add – not the last.

ralph paine said...

I would prefer it in future that the editor of this site might severly limit himself in suggestions that I, Ralph Paine, have ever refered to a critic or group of critics as being 'horrid'.

The editor may, however, quote freely and accurately from any of the texts submitted here.

John Hurrell said...

Do you see scare quotes? I don't see scare quotes. The term is an accurate summation of Mr.Paine's description of critics as being wolves, blockers,inhibiters, checkmaters etc. in his first letter addressed to Simon Esling re my 'Forget Watercolour' review. My description of his description is accurate, but never a quote.

Ralph Paine said...

First: The single quote marks to which you refer were inserted to indicate that I was quoting you, the editor. In other words, I was (and still am) keen to disassociate myself from any use whatsoever of the word 'horrid'.

Second: While remaining cognizant of the difference between the spirit and the letter of any given text, I insist nonetheless that I did not describe (and again, in what follows I am inserting single quote marks to indicate that I am quoting you) 'critics as being wolves, blockers, inhibiters, checkmaters etc'.

What I wrote was: Beware of critics who declare themselves to be catalysts. Like wolves in sheep's clothing, chances are they'll turn out in fact to be our inhibitors: Always wanting to block our flows, checkmate us, trip us up, correct us, catch us and our mates in flagrante delicto.

Thus, what we have here is a clear case of: If the cap fits, wear it.

When analysing the above warning one should take careful note of how in the second sentence the word "like" modifies the sentence towards the sense of a comparison. So what is alluded to in the sentence is the mere POSSIBILTY of a deception operating beneath the claims of a certain group of critics, that is, those who declare themselves to be catalysts. Because in fact you do make such claims, then obviously I was including yourself among members of this group. And yet...

And yet as things have turned out your sub-heading 'Forget Watercolour'did catalyze something, did get me going on what indeed has been an interesting and at times strange and hallucinatory journey into the Desert of Blog.

Thanks John.

John Hurrell said...

The ontological boomerang

For years we have the pleasure of following John Hurrell’s musings about the contemporary art scene in Auckland and nationwide. I personally enjoy the conversations with him, but I am not amused this time about his review on Dare. Truth. Promise. in ST PAUL St Gallery 3. Before starting: I am not involved with the pilot program in Gallery 3, I have no input what so ever as the pilot series is part of the program of the School of Art & Design I am not involved with.

Hurrell criticizes the works by the six artists who didn’t show paintings or sculptures or video works but installed a sound piece instead where the visitor can listen to descriptions of works or explanations of the artists’ practice.

Hurrell essentially says that the six artists replaced the primary with the auxiliary, the essay with the footnotes, the “initially envisaged art experiences” with the description. And that they make claims about the “ontological status” of the works. His verdict is rigid: “Hogwash. Pure piffle.”

Oh yes: The ontological. The UHHH-word. Like metaphysics. Or the transcendental. It is so big that nobody dares to ask: What the hell could be meant by that? Hurrell seems to know the truth, at least, and we are proud of having him amongst us.

For the rest of us who join the community of ignorants and illiterates and haven’t read their Heidegger properly: maybe it is sufficient to point out, that Dare. Truth. Promise. is an exhibition in line with projects you can find elsewhere in contemporary art. Karin Sander’s Telling a work of art or her audio tours are one example. The calculated denial of an optical experience by groups like “Retrograde Strategies” is another one. The refusal of showing anything else other than the systems of display, as it is the case with Heimo Zobernig would be a third example.

If you are dissatisfied with that kind of self-reflexive art: Understandable. But to disqualify it as “hogwash” etc. is, firstly, no argument but an insult, and secondly, ignores the option that calculated disappointment might be exactly what the artists might have had in mind: Throwing back expectations regarding art onto the beholder; confronting us with the hypothesis that the communication about art is the medium in which art survives. And that the “finite physical construction” Hurrell refers to might be a seductive trap to make us believe there might be something like an end to the infinite recession of the work of art into the cracks and crevasses of a boundless communication.

We may be tired of it. But we are also tired of so many other things, like art criticism, piffle, waffle and ourselves.

I am sure there is an ontological answer to this. Or a transcendental Or another kind of something-al.

John Hurrell said...

Terrific to have your contribution, Leonhard. Though I am surprised (almost shocked) to see you using so much sarcasm. I thought you were a philosopher as well as an art historian? Silly me.

You are correct to be scornful of terms like ‘piffle’ and ‘hogwash’ but they were not used in isolation for simple name-calling purposes like you imply; the bit about the lack of a declaration of ontological status leading to infinite regress was the argument to justify their use. It is a sound argument in my view, saying there was inadequate structure to provide a context for what were in essence ‘aural catalogue entries.’
(Simon in his comments claimed otherwise but he presented no supporting evidence).

Even if you think my argument’s content is bunkum, it is a genuine and serious attempt at an argument. There is a logic underpinning the discussion. I see no reason for it to ‘boomerang’ on me at all. I believe I’ve used the term correctly. (For those interested, see Section 4, The Ontology of Art, in Philosophy Looks at the Arts, ed. Margolis, Temple 1978.) You know I have, so why this pretence of being outraged by my terminology. Such terms are commonplace in your own writing.

So how am I expected to assess this project? On the one hand I have you suggesting that these students are sophisticated practitioners, fully conversant with the latest international art - especially as demonstrated by German or Northern European artists you claim work in a similar fashion - and that that is the context of the exhibition. On the other, I have Simon saying these students are still kids, in their early twenties, totally inexperienced, and that visiting critics should treat them gently.

Who is telling the truth, guys? If there is no attempt to set the scene for the motivation behind the audio statements, it is reasonable to take an intelligent guess. That’s exactly what I did. There was no clear explanation of what the work was doing strategically like what you would find with the Karen Sanders and Retrograde Strategies examples you mention, Leonhard.

Note it is not the lack of visual objects I objected to. After all the six speakers provided those (if I needed a visual experience) and all art has a material component anyway – so even if the speakers were hidden, pure sound is still substance. No it is the wishy-washy lack of focus, the sense of a rehearsal for something deferred that lies beyond - that wasn’t really grasped anyhow - that got me going.

d.a.webby said...

How to construct an argument
1.Have an opinion
2.Describe the opinion
3.Furnish the opinion with references

How to de-construct an argument
4.Have an opinion
5.Describe the opinion
6.Furnish the opinion with references

I'm not sure I have an opinion with regard to this particular show - other than to say it seems to express a desire to return to conceptual art fundamentals, albethey diluted by the passing of metaphorical water under a metaphorical bridge.

Establishing ancillary and primary seems significant in the equation being drawn – both before and subsequent to the reception of the work. I am still torn as to the possibility of intention, not so much deterministic dilemma – although I know that things would be different had I taken the bus yesterday - but rather the act as instance identifiable within a confluence of forces. Spell it out, it never sounds the same.

Not to get drawn into arguing a point, but doesn't the above dissolution of specificity into the vagaries of discussion a) demonstrate that the success of an artwork seems to rely on a certain ability to faithfully reproduce the experience in language, b) raise the question of whether this is desirable and c) none of the above.

John Hurrell said...

There are also a couple of other terms useful to this discussion. They occasionally get mentioned by Umberto Eco.

One is 'hypotyposis' referring to mental imagery created in the mind. The other is 'ekphrasis' where an art object is being described in in say,Keats's Ode to a Grecian Urn.

My sense is that the Dare Truth Promise artists were performing a sort of ekphrasis.

andrew said...

There is a question of ethics here.

JH I don't think that you should have publicly reviewed this exhibition. It is a student show and to confuse the assessment of a body of student work with the review an art exhibition is unfair.

Student art should not be publicly exhibited for a variety of reasons. One being the call for an unnecessarily compassionate interpretation of the of the work.

The exhibition says as much or more about the teaching institution as it does about the individuals concerned.

Ralph Paine said...

'Opinion is a thought that is closely molded on the form of recognition - recognition of a quality in perception (contemplation), recognition of a group in affection (reflection), and recognition of a rival in the possiblity of other groups and other qualities (communication). It gives to the recognition of truth an extension and criteria that are naturally those of an "orthodoxy": a true opinion will be the one that coincides with that of the group to which one belongs by expressing it. This is clear to see in certain competitions: you must express your opinion, but you "win" (you have spoken the truth) if you say the same as the majority of those participating in the competition. The essence of opinion is will to majority and already speaks in the name of a majority. Even the man of "paradoxes" only expresses himself with so many winks and such stupid self-assurance because he claims to express everyone's secret opinion and to be the spokesman of that which others dare not say. This is still only the first step of opinion's reign: opinion triumphs when the quality chosen ceases to be the condition of a group's constitution but is now only the image or "badge" of the constituted group that itself determines the perceptive and affective model, the quality and affection, that each must acquire. Then marketing appears as the concept itself: "We, the conceivers..." Ours is the age of communication, but every noble soul flees and crawls far away whenever a little discussion, a colloquium, or a simple conversation is suggested. In every conversation the fate of philosophy is always at stake, and many philosophical discussions do not as such go beyond discussions of cheese, including the confrontation of worldviews. The philosophy of communication is exhausted in the search for a universal liberal opinion as consensus, in which we find again the cynical perceptions and affections of the capitalist himself [sic]'.

Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari, What Is Philosophy?, London & New York: Verso, pp 145 - 146.

John Hurrell said...

..... Of course it is ethical. It was a public exhibition that I was invited to. As it is, through this site, those students are now known the length and breadth of the Land and can put my review and this thread on their cvs. A debate has occurred and their actions generated it.

Remember that people who visit art exhibitions often make sacrifices of time and money to do so, so reviews help them. But as you say, maybe it is unfair on the students to make the shows public.

Perhaps they are hoping for dealers, curators, 'friendly' critics and sales. People who can help promote the univesity programme by furthering the careers of graduates.

ralph paine said...

Then in terms of the Deleuze & Guattari quote above it is now clear as to which two groups you belong: the men of paradox & the cynical men of capitalism.

John Hurrell said...

Do I feel your finger jabbing in my chest,Ralph? That it is an either-or (which side are you on?) situation, and by God you'd better answer correctly? I'd like to say, yep those groups sound comfy for me - just to please you - but it's not true.

So why would it matter where I belong? Wouldn't it be better if we chatted about art? Did you see the Dare Truth Promise show? Why didn't you? You're too apathetic Ralph, dozing off with your books. You should be checking these exhibitions out

Ralph Paine said...

Let us be clear about what is at stake here.

In the course summary of his 1975 - 76 seminars at the College de France, Michel Foucault
correlates the birth of the nation-state with two emergent discourses of power: a
juridico-philosophical one of mediation, legislation and universal rights; and a
historico-political one of struggle, resistance and strategy. The subject who speaks from within the former is the jurist,"standing between the adversaries, at the centre and above the fray,imposing an armistace,establishing an order that brings reconciliation"; while
the subject of the latter speaks from amongst the "fray",presenting "the perspectival and strategic truth that will allow him to be victorious". Contra Hobbes - a jurist for whom the only only way out of humanity's continual state of war was via a peace mediated and guaranteed by state sovereignty - Foucault situates his own discourse firmly in the "camp" of the historico-political strategists. In a 2004 interview Antonio Negri renders Foucault's thinking as this: "There is no truth that does not derive from choosing sides, because truth is never neutral [...] Political militancy is the form through which the joy of truth and the pleasure of life are rendered accessible. Militancy develops a liguistic field that corresponds to the fullness of passions".

Okay, I'm gonna use the above to analyse the politics of this site, that is, eyeCONTACT. You, John Hurrell, are the owner/editor of the site. Yet by registering our proper names,etc., We, the bloggers, are granted second level writing-rights to the site. Because you are the owner/editor of the site it is at times required that you speak in the juridico-philosophical mode. You position yourself above the fray and attempt to establish an order that brings reconciliation to the second level of the site.Sometimes bloggers use this mode too. At other times, and for the most part, the editor/owner and the bloggers operate in the historico-political mode, that is, we position ourselves amongst the fray, presenting the perspectival and strategic truth that will allow us to be victorious. And, to speak like Negri, what develops on the second level of the site is a linguistic field that corresponds to the fullness of passions.

So nobody is forced by anyone else to take sides, or to identify themselves as belonging to any particular group. Rather, what happens is that simply by being here amongst the fray, by selecting words and deciding on the way we write them we choose automatically the groups to which we belong, the badges that we wear, and thus the sides we are on. This is what I meant way back when I wrote: "Everything is risked on the way of the saying". When I select words and write them the way I do, I am choosing sides. When you select words and write them the way you do, you are choosing sides. And yet, no doubt, writing is a complex and subtle affair, full of possible deceptions, false declarations, side tracks, intigue, straw men, etc. etc. so on and so forth.

But when you write this: 'As it is, through this site, those students are now known the length and breadth of the Land and can put my review and this thread on their cvs. A debate has occurred and their actions generated it.

Remember that people who visit art exhibitions often make sacrifices of time and money to do so, so reviews help them. But as you say, maybe it is unfair on the students to make the shows public.

Perhaps they are hoping for dealers, curators, "friendly" critics and sales. People who can help promote the univesity programme by furthering the careers of graduates'...

Well then, thats when all else fell away and we were left with what ammounts to raw hubris and insult. What in effect you are saying with the above is this:

Sit down and shut the fuck up you little brats (and your whimped-out teachers), I'm greasing the damn slave wheel for you here and all you can do is bitch and moan!

You and me 'chat' about art? I would prefer not to.

John Hurrell said...

A great post,Ralph. And like your others a great source of energy for this site.

However I really get off on experiencing and thinking about art - and I don't think you do. You are not the type that takes an active interest in what is going on around the city's galleries. That's fine, but me I need to prioritise my time. So don't get resentful if I can't respond to every post you make. And don't insult me by claiming I wish the students and their teachers would shut up. Those comments I made were trying to show the positive side of making university exhibitions public (in a balanced way by expressing a point of view about reviewing for the audience) and you've deliberately distorted them.

Man, I'm delighted if they want to bitch and moan about me (to my face) on this site. It doubles my hit rate. Why would I ever want to stop it?

andrew said...

'But as you say, maybe it is unfair on the students to make the shows public.'

Hurrell didnt say that I did.

And Ralph I reject your labeling system.

Ralph Paine said...

All this reminds me that the field of art is a brotherhood and a sisterhood, a being-with. There has always been an intelligence within art that conceives its potential as primarily a communal one: We get together in groups and teams, in schools, in work assemblages and collectives, often with the aim in mind of helping create an equally shared world. We name this world “the common.”

And yet the field of art is also a being-with in rivalry. There is an amazing competitiveness within art, a kind of athleticism that can be traced back to ancient myth. In Metamorphoses Ovid relays the story of the goddess Minerva’s jealousy for the weaving skills of a young woman named Arachne, a jealousy that leads Minerva to challenge Arachne to a competition. When in fact Arachne does weave the better tapestry this sends the goddess Minerva into a rage and she destroys Arachne’s work and beats her about the head with a weaving shuttle. Thus humiliated and shamed, Arachne then fastens a noose around her neck and attempts to hang herself. But Minerva takes pity and decides to let Arachne live, yet leaves her suspended in the air like that for all time: Minerva transforms Arachne into the first spider.

In this story pride, humiliation, destructiveness, and pity combine to create, not a moral tale, but rather a re-telling or re-laying of the virtual ground necessary for the emergence of a new form of being or species. And so it is today that if those who constitute the field of art sometimes become strangers and enemies to each other, then the solitude and the silence thus created are best understood as being vital components in that strange mix of things and conditions required for the creation of the new.

But there are always other methods and different programs, and in this regard I think artistic collaborations between-two are exemplary. In my experience this is not because collaborations overcome all the rivalry and alienation inherent in artistic production (they don’t!) but rather, that collaborations between-two often seem to redistribute these conditions and effects in positive ways, ways that could not have been achieved by any other means.

So for me what has occured here during the last week or so is best thought not as a conversation but rather as a collaboration, an example of art-work, a labour towards the common...

Ralph Paine said...


Art is not the prerogative of the galleries and museums of Fuckland, NZ (or any other place). Art is a virtuality traversing and empowering the All... And that's what makes it always-already political.

To the silence...

John Hurrell said...

I thought I was championing The Silence and you The Babble, Ralph? Isn't that what you wanted?

Simon said...

John Hurrell said...

Big difference though, Simon, between the two shows. One is seriously curated with a lot of back up thinking and has a lot of contextual information around it.
The other is a student show that could be interpreted as a last minute, ad hoc display organised by friends in the same class. There is no comparison.