Simon Denny and Nicky Hagar in conversation. This is exciting. It's a window of opportunity in a very bleak landscape. Intelligent life continues on in NZ despite the nature of modern politics and the dirtiness of the current government.
- Ron Hanson actually, people in positions of relative power who stand up to this stuff are under more strain the rest. i don't know why your show was canceled. but it's not the first time one of your ideas hasn't come to fruition. But i was genuinely disappointed that it didn't happen. but from my perspective, i couldn't be sure why it got canceled. last time we invited to work with you us you declined the offer, saying that you're boycotting all public institutions, and instead threatened to hold some kind of protest outside of our event. you're unpredictable, that's for sure. but there's an art to executing radical projects in an oppressive climate. it's a tricky game.
- Wells Tao that's an interesting story Ron, of course I have my own version of events. I remember telling you about the university Artist Fraud idea, how it seemed like a really big deal, and how I was looking to get some debate going on it. I remember the silence from you. For a long time, while I continued to do the work with those that were up for. it.
I remember how it seemed like what I was asking was that you had to decide to back me and my argument or side with the establishment, your hero's et. al etc.. . I remember no decision being made. I remember asking you to support me on the idea. I remember no discussion happening with you. After that I remember talking to you about your tour with no mention of what I had told you I was working on. I remember feeling like you weren't interested. I also remember feeling tired, Of not wanting to be a side act, or a distraction factor to Samin whose work I was really enjoying. I also didn't have any performance ideas, other than the idea about university art fraud.
I remember discussing this idea with the Public Gallery I was working with FOR A YEAR. That we were on the same page, that we were ready. And then one day just before the show was about to open, It gets shut down.
- Ron Hanson i'm really open to your critique of institutional artists. I've always been critical of them myself. I call them "domesticated pets". I like your work and have probably supported it as much as anyone. But i don't feel it's as simple as you being a radical artist and being shut down, though that can happen in New Zealand. I would be surprised if the gallery suddenly got the word from someone up the ladder however and canceled the show. But who knows.
- Ron Hanson that certainly helps, but i think even in NZ there are opportunities. but you've got be flexible and respectful of the other people in the equation. we're all struggling to get stuff done, swimming upstream, so to speak, even people who work in institutions and care to still try and push boundaries
- Ron Hanson see, that's we differ, i've got a bit of stuff behind me but i never feel like i've been there and done that. i remember you saying to me once that you've done work and it hasn't been received so don't want to make more. we'd already made more than 10 magazines before we started getting anywhere. what if we'd stopped after 9? anyway, the love of doing it, not the recognition, should be the driving force
- Wells Tao you see that's where you are wrong Ron, (ref: "if it's so challenging for someone like me to work with Tao, then it doesn't surprise me that galleries also struggle.") but I totally get the stereotyping.
See when I worked at Enjoy, it was me that put in the rules for professional conduct, transparency around power, not anyone else. It's because that I am very sensitive to abuses of power in relationships between the individual and the institution that I became such a consistent public critic of it.
I wasn't particularly very skilled at this debate and was often an arse, meaning well, it was easily spun that my "being difficult' was a sign of my unreasonableness. No mention from that which I was critiquing of what I was actually attempting to do or say.
This was summed up for me early on in an experience I had at a Curators Conference donkey years ago, where speaking from the audience, during question time, I asked a panel of curators, what could they offer me as an artist, the late William Macaloon replied, with something like "we're not interested in you Tao Wells" singling me out, humiliating me, carefully showing my place in the room. I wrote about that conference but not that particular moment for Dan Arp's mag http://naturalselection.org.nz/archive/3/3.6_Dan_Arps.pdf
"I would be surprised if the gallery suddenly got the word from someone up the ladder however and canceled the show. But who knows." Ron Hanson, I think that's my point, Denny gets a write up, everything is exposed, things are on his side. What's my story? I'm difficult. I sat at your table for years! I'm not that difficult.
- Wells Tao Oh and what I meant to say is that I too had a talk with Nicky, when he was here in Nelson, couple of weeks ago, just before the election. Discussing the University Fraud idea, his reply was, "that's not going to be popular"... and went on to talk about some Erebus conspiracy writer. i thanked him. looking around the room of people who seemed to be celebrating a victory. I couldn't help but feel a wave of "difficultness" come on.