As i mentioned, i popped over to christchurch to check out SCAPE, the public art biennale. i figured that i hadn’t seen enough art festivals in the last 2 years and needed to see more.. phew!
Actually, the real reason i did it was because i had a bad case of the travel bug and needed a hit of hostel-dorm-room-smell and sound-of-communal-dining again.
I’ve seen some great stuff over the last couple of days. More today, when the sun was shining and things were open (like the gallery) and i had a bit more of a sense of the city (as well as a very capable guide).
Highlights were easily Endeavour – the work by Japanese/German artist Tatsu Oozu, interacting with the James Cook statue in the civic centre park – it was fun and poignant and engaging and meaningful, all at the same time. Other pretty cool works included the silver bikes – although i think they should have been part of the festival, not artworks. Callum Morton‘s meteor Monument #19-Sexy Beast was pretty cool, although it would have been better at night and not so fucking far to walk (i know, whinge, whinge)!
The evening light works on the Avon by Aaron & Hannah Beehre were a bit ho-hum (sorry mirabel)- nothing i haven’t seen as permanent urban design before and the REAL PEOPLE neon by Carmela Gross, above the Bus Exchange overpass was a bit ho-hum at first sight, but on the bus at night coming down the street was pretty cool, actually.
The Demo Kits by Nasan Tur for sale in the qwik-e-mart (or whatever they’re called) were great, although i felt entirely intimidated by the staff constantly asking me if i wanted to buy one, the literature available at the gallery was superb and although i didn’t see any of the Ayşe Erkmen shopping bags around, but the idea is pretty sweet. And, on commercialism, the Maider López billboard/signage works were pretty cool (a photo/performance/action hiding all the signage in the main square).
Plus, of course, [AVL] Joep Van Lieshout‘s Giant Sperm was great fun – a giant, purple sculpture-cum-studio-bedroom-pod-thing in the middle of Cathedral Square… with all the kids playing on it… tee hee. In fact, the best part of the exhibition was wandering around with Grant, checking out the works. That was the most public thing about it.
But for two year’s worth of work, the whole thing could have had a bit more presence. During the day was fine, whilst the gallery was open and you could see it kind of radiating from there, but after 4pm, it’s a bit, well, unknown.
In fact, it was a bit crushing that I seemed to be the only one who knew that SCAPE was about – even the hostel staff, 25 metres from the Lopez billboard work, had no idea what i was talking about.
Given the interesting spaces in Christchurch – carparks lit with the most beautiful ambient lighting, spectacular destruction/construction sites – and an apparent street art scene (not huge, but there was stuff), there could have been a lot more around. Performance, graffiti, small interventions and the appearance of people engaging with the work on a much larger scale – 50 works, not 28.
I know that it’s a big much to expect the same level of finances/resources of much bigger and more evolved euro/asia cities, but even This Is Not Art kind of takes over that little town when it’s around. Actually, SCAPE could do with checking out Ars Electronica next year and see how they do it – they have a great mix of everything in the public (and private) domain and can make a small town like Linz really come alive with intrigue, delight and public engagement.
Christchurch, however is a super-cool city. I’d love to come back here in a couple of years and see it ‘overrun’ by engaging and delightful works. With more of those SCAPE bikes (which were an artowork) so you can ride around and check out the works and at least feel like you’re part of an event of sorts.
Oh, and for anyone organising a cultural event in the next little while, how’s about you try a twitter-type mobile stream so that you can find out who’s in town, where people are, what some of the interesting things are that are happening, in real time.. you know, try and connect people.