Sunday, August 18, 2013

'Strikingly Ordinary' An Understatement

Most of us have, at some stage, raised our eyebrows at what the
hi-brow call 'art'.
But this week I find myself agreeing with the judge of the National Contemporary Art Award: Jon Bywater described a photo which won the $15,000 first prize as "strikingly ordinary…" (though I suspect he meant that in a more complimentary manner than I do!).
Auckland artist Dieneke Jansen's photo, entitled Morrison Drive, Hobsonville, 23 November 2012 was taken at the former Hobsonville air force base. It's of some overgrown debris in an empty section, in front of some unremarkable state houses.
And it's just that: strikingly ordinary. It's a shot anyone could've taken, but very few would've wasted the time. So why it was chosen as the winner, from 37 finalists, is anyone's guess: short of better quality entries perhaps?
To underline that thought, a merit award went to Zac Langdon-Pole for an old curtain he stretched over a frame and called Disguised as its Physical Self. However you look at it, this is not art.
Considered one of New Zealand's premier art events, the National Contemporary Art Award is renowned for its controversial winners. Last year's was a bus shelter, temporarily erected outside the venue, which attracted the homeless, graffiti and litter.
Again, this is not art. Forget the "striking": it's simply "ordinary".

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