Exhibition Essays

Number Nine

December 2002

Series Number Nine

Tao Wells

The public you, write one of these things. Reach back and regurgitate, right now, that picked up this catalogue. Is the design predestined? Or is the world in small phase stage, this is part research into affirming there is an other, out here, where caring makes the world a better place for shared pavement! That is, in some way, part of what motivated the Number Nine series for me, the shared pavement. Who and what is out there? It seemed fair enough to ask, who is all this having fun is for? When applying for funding and going about the business of existence the question is deliciously taunting. What thoughts want to count? I had envisioned dancing girls with fairy costumes, cake baking competitions, clubs of various assortment and maybe if we were really lucky a miniature farm trade show, how misguided. 

Memories of the Number Nine series inspired that all to rare occasion of conflict and vitality in the arts. Vitality? You could be forgiven for thinking that artists in NZ all love each other, go around praising each others work before hopping into bed and slapping on a price tag or two, but no, oh no there are a few, just a few of us who can tell of a different story. It’s important to me to have shows where the categories for success are beyond I like or dislike you, but that they have something to say and we should listen. With Number Nine we got just that. Behind the scenes Enjoy was going through its usual changes, while we sought a way to be stable with out becoming stale in the process. You know, the old conundrum. The personalities and expertise of those involved with Enjoy made for an exciting collaborative spirit that also made it difficult to determine who or what was benefiting behind a shows collective authorship and authority. Acting on results generated in series “Number Three” also a themeless series, it felt right to examine the segments of the community that were in our support. How they saw and presented themselves, through our mutual experience and engagement could encourage Enjoy to practice the edgy structure of transparency, empowering both the reflection and the direction of the world around us.

At it’s best I had hoped by handing the controls over to seven consecutive individuals, a different perspective of the relationship with power would manifest in each shows struggle for clarity, and an audience. Determined to carry out its policies of dialogue and experimentation, Enjoy during this series truly tested the possibility and worth of institutional transparency and in my opinion came to find the disorder of this spirit sacred.

I didn’t want to have all the answers and I wanted Enjoy to behave and run like it didn’t either so that the troubles it faced were seen as an integral part of the culture it presented. Yes Ambitious and into the fray lay the seven new curators, armed with the new “artist seminar” and a required “essay” Enjoy went purposefully into its unknown. A lot was learnt from this series and in its wake new gallery protocols were created (Check out the A, B, C’s). If arts a game, we tested and present the rules, if you’re sick of playing at home or with others, come and see us. Examine this record. Number Nine set standards for critical presentation and dialogue. It is good to remember, and to you, thanks a lot.