06 June 2004

Dear diary

I've been sick as a dog the last few days. It's meant I had two and a half days off work, had to flag going up to Palmy, and haven't made a start on this freelance job yet (I should of course be doing so now but am instead sitting here typing this).

I started to feel a bit more human yesterday. As I had just been paid a huge wodge of dosh from a previous freelance job, Rose and I headed into town so I could buy a swish new iBook (I am so hanging out to ditch the horrible old PC). Unfortunately, though, bastard MagnumMac were closed for Liz's birthday. I'm going to have to take a long lunch next week and do it.

We decided to go check out the City Gallery part of the Prospect show (and naturally I took some sneaky photos). You'll have noticed I flagged going to the openings last week. I can't take City Gallery openings any more - the large crowd of nobs, the dreadful speeches (it's hard to decide which is worse: the corporate sponsor ones or Paula Savage's - that woman seriously needs to do some public speaking professional development).

I took photos of the ones that grabbed me the most first off. The top two are from the ground floor gallery - Ian Scott's pin up girls in front of hard-edged geometric abstractions (kind of funny), Liz Maw's paintings (stupendous), and a Peter Robinson sculpture. The bottom two are from the main first floor gallery - works by Sean Kerr and Ronnie van Hout. There was some other good stuff there, and some incredibly dull stuff as well (I hated the et al. installation and the Dick Frizzell painting the most I think).

I find the way these kind of curated survey shows group things together thematically pretty annoying on the whole. There's a good contrast with Te Manawa's current show - over 600 works from their collection that are ordered alphabetically (and that jam up on the walls from floor to ceiling) - works from wildly different periods and strands of NZ art history (such as it is) sit next to each other, leading to all sorts of surprising juxtapositions. The self-consciously curated shows try to force particular readings of, and associations between, the works on you. Bloody curators.

One thing in particular pissed me off about the way the City Gallery was arranged. Sean Kerr's Mountain was directly facing a DVD projection of Sarah Jane Parton singing karaoke. This meant that her singing along to Cyndi Lauper drowned out the droning coming from the Mountain. It even drowned the audio components of Ronnie van Hout's thing, which was down the other end of the room.

There was also Tracey Emin's Fear, War and The Scream downstairs. This featured drawings, paintings, photos, a neon sculpture, and a video work (and apparently they were thinking of bringing her tent over but decided against it - oops). It was all anguished, heartfelt, and confessional, just as you'd expect, but I was a bit surprised. I thought the colours and drawing would be stronger, bolder.

Having been stymied in my iBook purchase and revved up by contemporary NZ art, we then went on a record buying frenzy. I got It's bigger than both of us on CD (a great compilation of NZ singles from 1979-81). I also got a pile of vinyl: Another year by Nocturnal Projections - a truly fantastic 45 from 1982 - and The last great challenge in a dull world by Peter Jefferies (number 130 out of 1000), Caul of the outlaw by King Loser, a re-pressing on nice thick 180gm vinyl of The Stooges' debut album, a Jad Fair 45, Bongwater's Too much sleep, and David Bowie's Space oddity.

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