Politics of Sharing/On Collective Wisdom
ARTLINK AUSTRALIA MAGAZINE
Edited by Eve Sullivan
The elevator jolts and the doors slide open to reveal a makeshift gallery space within an office space that looks like it has not been renovated since the 1980s. I have stepped into the provisional Artspace, located on the 7th floor of an office building on Lorne Street in downtown Auckland. This is a temporary measure while the permanent Karangahape Road venue has asbestos removed. While the short-term offsite space is distinctly unfashionable, Artspace Director Misal Adnan Yıldız has boldly presented the current group show The Politics of Sharing: On Collective Wisdomwith his characteristic confidence in leading innovative exhibition layouts.
The Politics of Sharing ... is a tripartite show occurring in Auckland, Berlin and Stuttgart; billed as a “co conceived” rather than co-curated exhibition between Yıldız and Elke aus dem Moore, the Head of Visual Arts at ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen/Institute for international cultural relations). The three exhibitions are introduced as a forum to question the notions of sharing, distributing and resourcing. In particular, the exhibition text explicitly emphasises that the show is inspired by Māori mythology and customs “to challenge a Westernised currency”.
But there is something more compelling taking place here that is not addressed in the exhibition description. This is the ethical challenges artists face when collaborating with others that reveal a less strict polarity between the indigenous and Western paradigms to highlight a more complex tension created by their convergence.
This is particularly evident in the work Waitangi 2 Feb-6 Feb 2017 1000+1300 by Local Time. Not your average art collective, Local Time are comprised of artists, theorists and writers, including Danny Butt, John Bywater, Natalie Robertson, Alex Monteith. Since 2007, they have staged projects, hui and actions in various contexts such as festivals, protests, marae, museums and galleries all the while embodying tikanga Māori hand-in-hand with Western European critical theory into their practices of engagement. Their contribution to this exhibition consists of an extensive body of documented conversations and exchanges that took place at Te Tii Marae in the days leading up to this year’s Waitangi Day celebrations – a national public holiday observing the founding agreement between Māori tribes and the British Crown in 1840.