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Tendai John Mutambu  Assistant curator | Govett-Brewster Art Gallery | Aotearoa New Zealand

Andy Warhol, Trump Tower (1981) silk-screen. Donald J. Trump declined to purchase the series of eight works because they weren’t “colour-coordinated.”
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From Pablo Larios's recent article, 'How Real is Real?' (Frieze no. 185, March 2017), in which he imagines the late Andy Warhol as an absent interlocutor in a Socratic dialogue on wrestling, Trump and the art-world:
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'Did you imagine how true your words would sound today? By the way, Andy, what do you think of Roland Barthes? Was it his line or someone else’s – how does it go? – that the great thing about pro wrestling is how ‘the public is uninterested in whether it is rigged’? Mind if I press you on your interpretation of that word, ‘rigged’? Or that word ‘wrestle’, which – to be precise – comes from ‘wrest’ – to steal, to distort the meaning of? Would you like to talk to me sometime about how daily life became so spectacularly newsworthy, so fake – something, like Hogan, to gawk at? Or would you prefer to point merely to what would happen, years later, to Hulk Hogan?'
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'[...] Do you know about the cover story in Germany’s SZ-Magazin featuring an interview with Ivana Trump (9 April 1999)? Did someone tell you that you were in it? Did you stop only to look at the pictures? Do you agree or disagree with Ivana when she said how ‘the great thing about America’ is ‘the fact that you can pass off others’ work as your own without upsetting anyone’? Did you recognize that a journalist had stolen your own words in The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (1975)? Did you recoil a year later in shock when it was revealed that it was all made up, that Ivana was never interviewed and does it strike you as ‘hyperreal’ that the journalist cited ‘hyperreality’ in his defense? Was it just one of far too many gonzo routes to post-truth journalism? Is it possible the journalist took Ivana’s advice a bit too literally? Or was it really your advice, Andy? Tell me, Andy, is real news about a fake person still ‘real’?'

Motoko Kikkawa, Untitled (18), Untitled (15), Untitled (14), Untitled (7), Untitled (6), Untitled (5), watercolour and ink on paper...
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Motoko Kikkawa’s elaborate universe churns with a boundless rhythmic energy. Blending expressionism with intricate detailing, her work is as reminiscent of the visionary tradition of kanji Japanese calligraphy as it is of Kandinsky or modern animation. The resulting pictorial field, populated by an unruly mix of bodies, fuses figuration with abstraction into a raucously charged maelstrom. But there remains a delicacy to its vigour, a lightness to its strength. Kikkawa’s forms exist somewhere between disorder and conspiratorial self-organisation, as though gathering their forces for action, perhaps a leap outward at the viewer.
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Take, for example, Untitled (6) and its interminable loop from dissolution to condensation (and back again). The work is at once multiple and singular, figurative and abstract, intricately Apollonian and spontaneously Dionysian. As riotously carnivalesque in colour as it is in form, Untitled (6) is a writhing menagerie of indeterminate creatures. (In conversation, Kikkawa often refers to her forms as ‘animals’.) This animistic impulse further extends to Untitled (5)—an agglomeration of organic detritus, with spindly root-like tendrils dangling from its creaturely profile.

Hilton Als: writer, curator, artist, and recipient of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Criticism...
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'For students of master prints and drawings, a line occurring in nature is the original mark or beginning, inspiring artists from da Vinci to Picasso and one or two hundred others to wonder how to approximate that line’s naturalness on the page, in an artificial medium, just as I am trying to use another artificial medium — prose — to describe what I see...'
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'I like it here. I stay on this island on weekends, when I visit a friend who lives here, a friend I love like no other. It’s far north of the island my family came from originally, which is smaller, mean, and turned in on itself, like an evil-smelling root. Looking down at the black wavelets in the black night bay, their patterns visible to me because of that piece of moon, I could not help but think of lines — lines made in nature, and then lines on a canvas or in a drawing, and how those lines were not really very different from lines of writing brought together to describe sensations such as the love I feel on this island with its bay.' - Hilton Als, "Islands"

Micheal McCabe, building has limits, a club has an end (2017), Window Gallery, University of Auckland General Library Foyer...
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Witness queerness hijacking the vocabularies of Minimalism and Post-Minimalism. It's Eva Hesse-meets-Dan Flavin-by-way-of-Renate Lorenz-and-Pauline Boudry. If McCabe's is an architecture of performative objects, it is one that possesses both *presence* and *presentness* (to invoke Michael Fried). But, perhaps, it is Sara Ahmed's concept of 'queer phenomenology' that best captures how the space-time interweave orientates non-normative bodies within the social sphere: as both subjects and objects. (Note how parts of McCabe's installation exceed the confines of the exhibition space--timber framing leaning from without, a pink fluorescent light jutting out from above--as if to resist the titular 'limits' of that small, vitrine-like room.)

Steve Macone, New Yorker, October 18, 2010.
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"Ask your question quickly because with Buddhist compassion I will tell you not to give that speech." - bell hooks

Teuane Ann Tibbo (nee Williams) (1895–1984), 'Firewalkers', 1978, acrylic on board, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki...
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'Twelve figures dance or walk on a large bed of embers, surrounded by an audience watching them. The audience is painted in white, except one who is painted in blue and a few who are painted in red. The “fire walkers” are painted in a brownish orange. The customary explanation of Tibbo’s paintings is that they are ‘painted memories of the tropical landscapes of her early life.’ Was there fire-walking in Sāmoa in the early-twentieth century?'
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'Her paintings are strikingly strange, with an uncanny directness and intensity. [...] When her paintings became popular with the local contemporary fine arts scene in the early-1960s her work was described as ‘honest, unique, delightful, direct, intuitive, appealing, child-like, simple, uncalculated, unsophisticated and refreshing.’
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'Tibbo [...] played up to the attention she received, in doing so asserting a portion of her naivety as performative or “performed” [...]: *performed naivety* being, of course, no kind of naivety at all.'
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'Like my own grandparents, Tibbo came to New Zealand in the late-1940s, but she was a generation or two older than them. She moved to New Zealand with her second husband, Edward Victor Tibbo, and their children.'
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'Between my knowledge of my grandfather’s paintings and Tibbo’s work, the question calls to me, “What is the actual historical content of Pacific Auckland’s art practice?" [...] I wonder who else, if anyone, painted among the generations of Samoans who left the islands as the Pacific diaspora came into full swing?' - Daniel Michael Satele, "A Sketch," Parahistory (No. 3), 2015.

James Baldwin during the now-historic Baldwin-Buckley debate, Cambridge Union Society (1965). (Baldwin won 540 to 160.) ...
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'Watch one of Baldwin’s many television interviews and you’ll notice the thrilling oddity of his elocution, how it seems to relish its own vibrations and trills. Sound strains and rattles against the body that produces it, a timbre sensuously attentive to language’s treacheries and subtexts. His speech could be somber, darkly reflective, dragged down by the terrible weight of History—but then it would erupt into brisk, clipped syllables, an adamantine articulation that cuts through the gloom. He had the kind of voice that could, with a flick in tone, sweep away the clutter of our preconceptions: he was a black orator, yes, in the grand ecclesiastical style, but also tart, foppish, lushly vulnerable. He could be haughty—but his hauteur was just. [...] Being black, he was forced to stage a perpetual insurrection against everyone’s idea of him; and, being black, he was often punished for it. Eldridge Cleaver called him a traitor. And William F. Buckley, in the middle of their debate at Cambridge, accused him of affecting a British accent—a jab at the irony, the scandalous dignity, of that *voice*. - Tobi Haslett, 'I am Not Your Negro,' 2017 (review).

Tania Pérez Córdova's 'Lost Earring' (from the series of Things in Pause), 2014, at the 11th Gwangju Biennale, Korea (2016)...
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'There it hangs: [an] earring in the shape of a piece of miniature drooping armour, placed [on] a slender triangular metal structure coming out of a corner of the room. [...] The earring is alone, separated from its twin. In fact, the separation is temporary; the other earring remains with its owner, who will not use it until the two are reunited. [...] After the exhibition the [earring] will be returned from whence [it] came. In case of a sale, the buyer is requested to find an equivalent object to incorporate into the framework devised by the artist.' - Maria Lind, "Going back to basics – getting back to art (and earrings)," Art Review, December 2013.

Yllwbro, NGC 2362, 07.31h24.95s. Canis Major (2017)...
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Original photograph of star fields in Canis Major on exhibition at Mokopōpaki, 454 Karangahape Road, Auckland.

Rosalind Krauss's loft, Greene Street, NY (1976)...
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'But perhaps even stronger than the room’s aura of commanding originality is its sense of absences, its evocation of all the things that have been excluded, have been found wanting, have failed to capture the interest of Rosalind Krauss – which are most of the things in the world, the things of ‘good taste’ and fashion and consumerism, the things we see in stores and in one another’s houses. No one can leave this loft without feeling a little rebuked; one’s own house suddenly seems cluttered, inchoate, banal.' - Janet Malcolm, "A Girl of the Zeitgeist," 1986.

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