Project celebrates independent artists

"Storm Channels". Photos: Supplied
"Storm Channels". Photos: Supplied

A series of projects are being held to celebrate the dedicated community of independent artists working in Dunedin, Rebecca Fox discovers.

Dunedin's long history of independent art spaces is being recognised by today's artist-run initiatives.

Ted Whitaker (The Aotearoa Digital Arts Network) and Charlotte Parallel (The Anteroom) came up with the idea.

''We've been involved in artist-run spaces and are big fans of the independent artist culture in New Zealand,'' Parallel said.

While Dunedin is renowned for its ''beautiful'' public gallery spaces such as the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, the Hocken Library, the not-for-profit Blue Oyster Gallery and its various dealer-run galleries, knowledge of its artist-run initiatives (ARI) was not as high profile.

However, over the years the city has had a strong tradition of artist-run spaces, many of which have come and gone.

'''Storm Channels' recognises the significant history of ARIs in Dunedin, that come and go, yet leave an impact to support future generations of artists in the city and abroad.''

Even some of the galleries taking part in ''Storm Channels'' are soon to be no more.

Parallel believes some of the reasons artist-run spaces exist in Dunedin is that the community is more supportive and rents are cheaper.

''There's that DIY ethos floating around Dunedin, too. People are really proactive.''

So they decided to put together ''Storm Channels'', a series of contemporary art projects based at six Dunedin artist-run initiatives.

''We want to promote and support a conversation as a community about artist-run spaces.''

In a culture where digital and online dominates, ''Storm Channels'' responds by rethinking the importance of small-scale physical spaces in a globalised world, Parallel said.

''To support the collective of local ARIs where a common thread is resource-sharing and collaboration.''

Each space taking part, Savoie de LACY, None, DIRT, XXX/YYY, The Anteroom and The Manor, are creating autonomous projects.

''It'll be interesting to see what happens when we bring them together.

''There will be a lot of crossover between each other.''

Examples include Chaong Wen Ting's audio visual artwork which documents an art installation within an abandoned sake factory in Tokyo at DIRT or From Kingdom to Crown by Brendan Jon Phillip at None Gallery, a installation and sound performance mapping transient channels that flow between history and the present.

Another is a do-it-yourself electronics workshop with Brett Ryan at The Anteroom, where people can build their own pocket magnetic field receiver.

The event is also giving artists a chance to try projects they would not otherwise do.

''It's really important.''

Funding from Creative New Zealand and the Dunedin City Council had helped make it possible.

''It's enabled us to pay artists and cover materials.''

Other artists taking part include Michele Leggot, Waterfalls, Emilie Smith, Sans Def, Phoebe Lysbeth Kay, Tess Mackay, Erica Sklenars, Nikolai Sim and Danny Brady, Karl Leisky And Leben Young, Le Tre Arterie, Joel Rickerby, Yonel Watene, Samuel Longmore, Back On Track, Danny Creature, Anthony Low and & O.M.T.

For Parallel and Whittaker putting together the project has meant ''lots of communication'' with an added complicating factor of Whittaker now being based in New York where he is working temporary jobs in galleries and art fairs ''to get by''.

''It's been an ongoing conversation between Charlotte and I since last year,'' Whittaker said via video link.

Parallel had also been overseas for part of the organisation after receiving the 2017 Asia New Zealand-Creative New Zealand residency to spend time at Instinc Gallery in Singapore.

''It was amazing. There were lots of really active artists.''

The artist-run space there was home to six artists who each used different mediums and practices, but came together to show their work and run the gallery.

''It was amazing inspiration for an artist. It's hard to sum up how it challenges you, pushes you out of your comfort zone.''

Parallel and Whittaker came up with the name of the event by brainstorming and, given the exhibition was to be held in winter, storm seemed appropriate.

For Whittaker the exciting part was having the ARIs pitch ideas.

The events are going to be quite diverse, combining installation, exhibitions, performance and even an electrical workshop.

''It's a really interesting mix.''

Parallel hoped by opening the spaces to the public for such an event more people would visit.

''A lot of these spaces are in people's own homes which they've converted into galleries. They're very private spaces that people are being very brave and courageous to open up and share.''

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