Cr resigns 'in disgust' over 'rented' art

Lee Vandervis
Lee Vandervis
Dunedin ratepayers have spent $50,000 to rent an art work, Dunedin city councillor Lee Vandervis says.

He said yesterday he "resigned in disgust" from the council's Art in Public Places subcommittee two months ago when the committee supported spending $100,000 on artist Rachel Rakena's 3-D video art work Haka Peep Show, which was unveiled in the Octagon on Friday.

The art work, in the shape of a deodorant can brand the All Blacks endorse, is described by Ms Rakena as being a "towering black pou" (post or pillar), which also has a phallic reference.

After Ngai Tahu said it would contribute about $80,000 to the art work, the council voted to spend $50,000 from the Rugby World Cup marketing budget on the work. Mr Vandervis said he also opposed that decision.

His understanding was the art work, which was still owned by Ms Rakena, would be in the Octagon for the duration of the Rugby World Cup and would be returned to her afterwards.

Artist Rachel Rakena with her 3-D video art work Haka Peep Show. Photo Peter McIntosh
Artist Rachel Rakena with her 3-D video art work Haka Peep Show. Photo Peter McIntosh
"We're paying $50,000 to rent a black penis in the Octagon? What's that all about?"

Mayor Dave Cull said last night he did not know who owned the art work.

"Does it matter? ... Cr Vandervis' comment is irrelevant. The work has been part paid for by the Dunedin City Council for the benefit of the region."

Mr Vandervis was being "particularly mischievous" in raising the issue, he said.

When asked last night who owned the art work, Otakou runanga chairman Edward Ellison replied: "Good question. It is the artist's work. I imagine she owns it."

He said he was not aware Ngai Tahu was claiming ownership, although he said he "suspected the city council would have a strong claim on it" because they had contributed financially.

Ms Rakena said she did not own it - "unless no-one else wants it, and then I'll have it".

The project had been completed in a very tight time-frame and contracts were still being drawn up. But she said she was expecting the city council and Ngai Tahu would own it.

Cr Vandervis said he had not publicised his resignation from the subcommittee because he thought the subcommittee had not funded the art work and he thought the issue had gone away.

He said he was "agog" when the project came to the council again with the suggestion it be funded from another budget.

Asked about Cr Vandervis' decision to resign from the Art in Public Places subcommittee, Mr Cull was dismissive, saying Cr Vandervis had resigned "because he found participating in the decisions of the committee too challenging".

An annoyed Art in Public Places subcommittee chairman Cr Bill Acklin said last night anyone who talked about subcommittee discussions had "seriously breached" council rules.

Discussions on any projects the subcommittee decided not to fund were "100% confidential".

"As far as I am concerned, this art work was funded from the Rugby World Cup budget and is nothing to do with the Art in Public Places subcommittee. Anyone who says otherwise is seriously breaching confidentialities".



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