Present Tense

Image-rich excerpts from our Issue °00 interview with Auckland Art Fair Projects 2021 curator Micheal Do, and artists Casey Carsel, Tanya Martusheff, Lucy Meyle, Elisabeth Pointon, Becky Richards, and Ashleigh Taupaki.

DATE: 10 March 2021 words and imagery supplied
source ART Paper, issue º00; buy it here now

Michael Do
Present Tense for the Auckland Art Fair is centred around gifting and exchange. In developing the exhibition, I asked: how do we build relationships with the Art Fair’s audiences that stressed a different type of art making—one rooted in community, ideas rather than capitalistic exchange. It’s a reminder that there is more to art than it’s role as a commodity, which tends to be the central premise of an art fair. In a way, everyone’s building on little subversive acts that shift this accepted historic notion. 

Tanya Martusheff
I will be exhibiting soap that has been cast as handrails. It is glycerin-based and has been tinted with mouthwash, a product we might use on a regular basis. I will also be making little pieces of soap that will be wrapped up for the audience or visitors to take away with them. 

The lockdowns have closed us off from our normal social networks, the way we work in a community, and the way we function within these systems. I’ve been working with soap prior to the pandemic, but it’s become known as one of the main ways of protecting against viruses through washing. On the flip side of this, we have handrails that are communal—we all use them for assistance, and now they are seen as something that transmits the virus between people.

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Soap making process for of a dilemma, Auckland Art Fair Projects 2021.

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Installation strategy for Present Tense, Auckland Art Fair Projects 2021. 

LEFT
Slough, RM Gallery, Installation view, June 2020.

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Soap making process for of a dilemma, Auckland Art Fair Projects 2021.

Becky Richards
I’m working on a multitude of handheld ceramic objects with forms that echo eggs, stones and seedpods, which are designed to be used to fulfill a personal, poetic type of function for each audience member.

becky richards

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Raw forms: These small works are formed from a range of clay bodies (types) including Stoneware Paper clay (has paper pulp mixed through to help prevent cracking and open up the clay body), Red Raku (a dark red clay with heavy grog that looks a bit like brick when fired), Terra Cotta from Driving Creek (orange in colour, sometimes with small stones in the body).

becky richards

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Glazed work before firing.

becky richards
becky richards

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Bisqued works, in the process of unloading, after the kiln has cooled.

becky richards

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Glazed work after a Cone 6 firing (1200ºC).

becky richards

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Bisque firing: the first firing is called a bisque fire (derived from ‘biscuit’, because the work comes out dry and firm, like a (not very nice) biscuit. I run an 18.5-hour bisque programme, which is a lot longer and slower than what manypeople will run. This is to prevent any breakages in the solid forms. My bisque programme goes up to 1000ºC. The forms come out porous and sandy to the touch. The purpose of the bisque firing is to add strength and produce a surface that will take aglaze easily and consistently.

becky richards

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Bisqued pods.

Ashleigh Taupaki
My work is a collection of sand from different beaches in Hauraki— Opoutere, Onemana, Whangamata and Whiritoa—that are really important to my iwi and whānau. I’m making structures so that people are able to touch the sand and have some sort of remnant on their hands as they interact with it. There’s a poem that will be made large scale, but also printed on a small-scale poster so that people can take this home with them.

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Taupaki gathered sand for her project, One, from beaches in Hauraki.  

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Taupaki gathered sand for her project, One, from beaches in Hauraki.  

Lucy Meyle
What I’m working on is a catalogue of twigs and fibres from a bird’s nest that fell from a tree in my backyard. The audience can apply to receive one of the twigs, and if successful they are required to relocate it where another bird might find it and re-use it for making a new nest. The nest came down because I was trimming some ivy that was suffocating another tree. I felt really guilty about it and started Googling ‘What do you do? Do you put it back up? Is that what you’re supposed to be doing?’ But apparently, what you can do is take it apart and redistribute the materials around green spaces, so different birds can then come back and pull the debris into a new cycle of nest building. 

There is something there for me about receiving and then giving away, or the recirculating of things—not just the twigs from the bird’s nest, but the ideas and images I have associated with it. For me the guilt about the bird’s nest falling down hasn’t really faded, and I guess I’m partially re-locating it in someone else’s backyard, or their neighbourhood park. 

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Catalogue design for Local Branch.

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Image upload and design process. 

LEFT
Sticker designs for the Local Branch catalogue.

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Meyle scanning twigs for Local Branch.

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Twigs, packaged and labelled ready to be sent out.

Elisabeth Pointon
I’m presenting three artworks with Tiffany & Co. The largest one will be an inflatable text, seven-metres long and one-and-half-metres high, that just says “whoever” with a full stop. There will also be a video recreating advertorial campaigns and a postcard element that you can take to Tiffany & Co. and get stamped by a retailer who works there.

When I began researching the project and looking into Tiffany & Co., I came across the 2015 Will You campaign, which was one of the first gay marriage campaigns to ever be launched using real-life couples. My video is based on this, utilising inflatable car yard air dancers and waving people as the predominant visuals, but also incorporating elements of heavily romanticised, black and white, smoky perfume adverts.

Language accessibility, visibility, and representation are continued interests in my practice. I often draw from my experiences in the workplace at a luxury car dealership.

As a Pākehā and Indian artist, my position within masculine-led environments will mirror the experiences of many minorities in the workplace and in the art world. I actively try to take up as much space as possible, because I’m well aware that my time in these spaces is fleeting and conditional, and sometimes labelled ‘trendy’. But yeah, I make big fuckoff works to counteract this.

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Design sketches for SOMETHING BIG

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Fabrication process for SOMETHING BIG

Casey Carsel
My work for this project is mostly textile-based, the result of an exploration of the historic relationship between Jewish culture and garlic, and, in particular, how that relationship filters down to the present day (or doesn’t). This manifests in a large textile, accompanied by a series of smaller textiles scented with garlic that the audience will be able to take home with them.

The relationship between Jewish culture and garlic was really tight-knit before the 20th century, basically before the Holocaust. It was a big symbol of Jewish identity, a big ingredient in Jewish cuisine, and also a really significant food in Jewish celebrations. Yet it was also used as part of a series of dangerous antisemitic tropes about the ‘inherent smell’ supposedly emanating from every Jew. A lot of knowledge of that history, a lot of the way that garlic has been an identity-marker, disappeared in the late 20th and 21st centuries. I’m interested in that story. I’m not necessarily looking just to bring it back, but rather to examine its absence, and the presence that absence forms. 

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Shum Klum, RM Gallery, Installation view, November 2019.

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knobl—soup! process documentation photograph. 

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