I have been trying to carry on this conversation with a posting, but truth is I had such a
bad experience at ISEA I am trying get some time to regain some +ve
perspective on it so I can offer a more constructive posting.
On the side of art the experience was troublesome but managable for the main art project
I was involved with - Paper Cup Telephone Network, however the support
for the re:mote event was disheartening and it would have been better to cancel the event
rather than have stubbornly blundered on through ISEA chaos.
It was an interesting contrast to have arrived in Riga for the Waves event
) and feel supported in such a way that put ISEA to shame, especially
as RIXC is an organisation with about 5 percent of the resources of ISEA.
When I arrive in Amsterdam next week I will rest up and write a report to ISEA regarding
re:mote and summarise some of this for ADA.
Anyone else with ISEA comments?
..on Sun, Aug 27, 2006 at
10:05:58PM +1200, Douglas Bagnall wrote:
I missed almost everything else (including the
symposium) as I was
having various logistical problems with re:mote and the internal
(dis)organisation of ISEA. What was everyones impression of ISEA?
I suppose the disorganisation was inevitable given that ISEA is
always, wherever it is, the first thing of its kind, ever. Superpower
sponsorship seemed to exacerbate rather than ameliorate the confusion.
It was harder to get boring things like projectors, network
connections, and mains power, than it was to get, in my case, a
strange bead-curtain monitor that cost $US100 per pixel.
Apart from the budgetary distortion, the sponsors did irreparable
damage to the opening sequence. Some events were too exclusive to
admit artists (which obviously infuriated those who didn't sneak in),
while others were marred by interminable speeches. While this made
the symposium proceedings look good, it destroyed what should have
been a binding social event. Participants fled in all directions,
then spent the rest of the week seeking the defining group encounter
that had been stolen from them by corporate puffery.
One curious aspect to the show is that almost nobody turned up. South
Hall was set up like a trade show, but it seemed to be always stuck at
five minutes to opening time. There were stallholders but no punters.
I was able to ride my bike around, without swerving for pedestrians.
Other places were popular though. Apart from Animalia, there were
patterns projected on the town hall which were very well received.
One night I saw about a thousand people sitting there with picnics and
whatnot, watching the projection meander through its cycle. It was
like Guy Fawkes in Wellington -- people love public art that lets them
gather and stare together.
Almost every artist I spoke too was dissatisfied. Most complained
about the lack of technical or curatorial support. Some mentioned the
scarcity of free wine. Not many mentioned the absence of audience,
but for my part, it added a tinge of futility. Staff members'
character flaws were discussed, and the liveliness of San Jose was
impugned. Not entirely fairly in my opinion, but I had a bicycle and
could get to things that others couldn't. One artist run space was
open until late each night, with new things every day. To the south
of downtown large bands played in Mexican bars. Danny has mentioned
the grand spectacle of Fry's San Jose. It was an OK city, like a
warmer, friendlier, Spanish speaking Christchurch. Anyway, these
conversations of complaint helped build artistic networks and the
sense of a shared project.
I don't actually think the organisers did too badly considering the
circumstances. There were too few workers, there were too many
sponsors, and there was a rather too optimistic schedule of logistics.
Perhaps South Hall was just a little too big and tent-like, and
perhaps San Jose's events calender was already too crowded with car
races and baseball for an art show to register public interest.
I can't help but compare ZeroOne to Prospect 2004, the next biggest
show I have been in. Prospect had 40 odd artists; it was shown in
actual real galleries with real gallery staff; it had one sponsor, and
perhaps two dozen dynamic artworks. It was the biggest NZ survey show
in years, and people have complained about it being too big, and about
it being wrong, and something about a donkey. ZeroOne had 5 times the
artists; no real galleries; too few real gallery workers; countless
sponsors; and every work was trying to be a technical novelty. It is
no wonder that it was wobbly. It was crazily ambitious. But for the
artists whose work was broken or improperly displayed due to a lack of
standard prerequisites, there is no consolation in that. I personally
spent a lot of time and money working on things that, it turned out,
were never going to work because the promised infrastructure did not
exist. If I think about it in a certain way, it seems worse than a
complete waste of effort, more like a swindle. But generally I am
quite pleased I went, to meet people, to see how these things work,
and to escape this bloody winter. Also, in keeping with the trade
show appearance, scouts from other festivals were there, and I have
had interesting enquiries. I was trying to resolve not to do any such
thing again, but I expect some of these invitations will put the lie
to that, and I will go to these festivals without expecting then to be
better organised or more artist friendly. This probably summarises
what I am trying to say in an actions-louder-than-words way. Despite
all the complaints, nobody really suffered and it was an interesting
I also missed the Pacific Rim forum...any
feedback on how it went?
I'd better start another email for this one.
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