Success in the arts has always been a white whale. And although education, experience, and exposure all appear to bring us closer to this elusive beast, none – individually or collectively – guarantee its capture.
Nevertheless, in an effort to collapse this divide, Auckland Art Fair 2018 includes a special sector featuring a small number of young galleries and artist run spaces, along with work by Masters students from the Victorian College of the Arts ACCESS Mentorship Program and graduates from Elam School of Fine Arts. Featured on the mezzanine of The Cloud, Piki Mai: Up Here ^^ offers a snapshot of artists whose work could appear at future art fairs.
The VCA is sending five of its Masters students to participate: Moonis Ahmad, Piers Greville, Lorraine Heller-Nicholas, Arna Meldrum and Janno McLaughlin. Bridging the gap between studying and professional practice, this part of the program will see the students showcase alongside a spread of international artists and galleries from Australia, South-east Asia, North and South America and the Pacific Islands.
Much like the art fair itself, the selected artists represent an eclectic mix of conceptual and aesthetic proclivities. Indeed, looking across the artists’ oeuvres, the only consistent element, paradoxically, appears to be difference. In the VCA works, artists jump from questions of territorial claims and fictive archives to explorations of sexuality and psychoanalysis. The common ground is found in shared opportunity, rather than any artistic likeness. Yet one gets the sense that this is undoubtedly a positive trait.
These young talents have all found themselves in a unique position where they are able to produce public-facing works, while maintaining the integrity of their practices. As artist Heller-Nicholas points out, “This is an opportunity to see how a new work is received in a public, quite commercial, context, without the pressure of the normal commercial gallery concerns”. The fair is a testing ground of sorts, a place to be brave, and a moment in which the white whale finally comes within the artists’ grasp.
Image: Mevna, XTC S.T., 2015. Installation view, Guadalajara, Mexico. Courtesy of the artist and Interlude Gallery, Sydney.