Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Art? Or Fart?

My eye was caught by an opinion piece in last Thursday's Press, by Jenny Harper, director of Christchurch Art Gallery.
Art - and the collecting of it - matters to Christchurch as the city rebuilds, she writes. Sounds interesting, methinx, as I settle in to what I expected would be an article covering the Gallery's behind-the-scenes work since it's earthquake closure.
Well, it was...and it wasn't.
More than anything, it was a justification for some grandiose purchases in the name of 'good art'.
Harper: "I'm utterly clear that good art really matters. I'm convinced that collections of art matter more than a single work or that of a single individual."
So while the city has rumbled, tumbled and started to claw its way back to its New Reality, the Gallery's been spending money, quietly gathering goodies for our cultural advancement.
You'll recall the curiosity called Chapman's Homer - a well-hung bronze bull astride a grand piano, first seen in mid-demolition site, and later the subject of a public fundraising campaign, to buy it...for our own artistic good.
It's "a brilliant reminder" says Harper "of a community-wide effort to represent the time the earthquake changed our lives forever." How a bull on a piano represents EQ devastation is beyond me! Perhaps a bull in a china shop...?
Now the Gallery's steamrolling a $5m endowement fund to buy itself lots more goodies...er, for our own good. Harper spins it thus:
"We've decided to ban the words donate and give. This is a partnership; it's mutual; it's about loyalty; it's about building our legacy; it's about art." Of course...!
And brace yourself, Christchurch, for five mega-costly art purchases
Bebop? Or be ripped off?!!
coming your way:
No.1 was the slab o' steak on the keyboards.
No.2 is described as "a marvellous and playful work" by NZ contemporary artist Bill Culbert called Bebop.
Take a good hard look at the pic: spin this any way you like...it's just some neon tube lights dangling among old kitchen chairs! Remove the rose-tinted artyfarty specs, Jen - this is op-shop junk tarted up as culture! Yet you raised over $80K just for this???
Harper assures us that Bebop will "become part of our legend: valued, loved, responded to and enjoyed for many years." Riiigghhtt...
Well, please don't buy his piece called Strait. His own publicity describes it as just a line of Anchor milk bottles with a bolt of fluorescent light through them. I'll make it for you myself this weekend! And even DONATE it!! Opps, sorry... PARTNERSHIP it!!
She says "...it's important to maintain the cultural heartbeat of the city and to represent this time. This too is part of our rebuild." Granted. No argument.
Harper: "We're here because good art matters." Terrific.
Then please will you purchase some actual GOOD ART???!!!

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