The Press (Christchurch, NZ)
15 November 2000
Small Gallery, big punch
A cultural dab on the corner of a busy Christchurch
intersection may be modest in size but is well worth
a peek, writes Nik Wright.
The Kiosk is New Zealand's smallest art gallery; a
bijou cultural dab on the corner of a busy Christchurch
The Kiosk's miniscule size gives no indication of its
artistic punch. This public art space on the corner
of High and Manchester streets has been developed and
co-ordinated by artist collective Oblique. The elliptical
art space with its two small windows was designed after
the shape of a poster bollard. Fittingly it was poster
magnates Phantom Billstickers (Outdoor Advertising)
who became Oblique's patrons and provided the funds
to make the project a reality.
Kiosk designer and co-ordinator Julaine stephenson
regards the public art site as a "glimpsing thing",
a taste of art for passers-by.
The project aims to expose art to people who otherwise
might not have the time or the inclination to visit
a gallery, but will take a voyeuristic peek as they
pass along the street.
Julaine Stephenson passes on a lot of the credit for
the Kiosk's excellent positioning to ongoing council
arts advocate Warren Pringle, who was vital to negotiations
between the artist's conceptual aims and the Christchurch
City Council's Environmental Planning Unit's schemes
for remodelling and improving the High Street and Manchester
Apart from one incident of vandalism when the Kiosk
first appeared, public reaction has been strong and
positive. The work on show always receives "feedback
from the locals".
Last week marked the launch of the website for Kiosk,
currently hosting its first online installation. Warren
Olds, who lectures in graphic design at Waikato Polytechnic,
has created two designer modems in his pateneted shade
of pastel blue. Like digital action artstar, Sean Kerr,
whose Time Piece christened the Kiosk when it opened
in June, Olds explores digital media, presenting the
machine components as beautiful objects in themselves.
The same approach has been applied to Kiosk's website,
slick and eye-easy yet designed for rapid access to
Like the gallery, the site packs a large amount of
content into a very small amount of space, giving not
only information on the exhibition programme but schematic
diagrams and instructions for future exhibitors.
Encouraging outside participation is all part of the
long-term plan. Stephenson believes that it is healthy
for the site to involve as many people as possible.
Her curatorial policy involves sharing exhibiting slots
with the Physics Room, and Robert McDougall Annex, as
well as encouraging other key organisations such as
Christchurch Polytechnic and the New Zealand College
of Art and Design.
She disagrees with claims that Oblique risks sacrificing
its founding principles as a co-ordinator of "non-institutional"
public art works.
In the larger scheme of things, the kiosk project was
conceived as space for the whole town and as such has
always aimed to draw on as broad a base as possible.
Involving multiple institutions is "vital" in the long
Kiosk's artworks have featured Layla Rudneva-Mackay's
fur-clad boxes, and fellow Dundedinite Douglas Rex Kellaher's
kinetic work T.A.B, a piece in which polystyrene packing
balls were blown around in perpetual whirlwind generated
by recycled computer fans. The site also hosted Art
and Industry's Madame and The Bastard short films.
Stephenson sees these art works as a clear example
of what works best in the Kiosk. Unlike a gallery where
artists can afford to have work breakdown, kiosk pieces
must be rigorously tested. This is due to the fact that
once closed, the space remains sealed for the duration
of the show. Accessing the Kiosk requires an engineer
o be called out and the artist has only one hour at
most to install their work.
Article by Nik Wright