Monday, February 7, 2011


Over dinner, on the first night I arrived in Wellington, we had a brief conversation about the difficulty in designating the beginning to a process orientated project, a topic that seems to be recurring. Did this project begin when I got off the plane to be picked up by Andrea and Steven? Or did it begin with the dinner we had in the gallery on Friday night? Or the next day, after we cleaned up, and Laura and Amit (metaphorically) handed the space over to me? Or is it only now as I finally get around to posting this on the blog? Maybe it was when I resumed reading Conversations with Art/Space/Nature on the flight over here (more on that later). It seems that the beginning of this project has come on slowly, with many potential starting points, that may only become clear when looking back from the end of it. 
Andrea and I have been discussing this project in terms of being an unfolding process, in which the role of documentation becomes integral to the project as a whole, with the blog fulfilling both the part of documentation, as well as being a vital component – perhaps the most significant part – of the project’s production. Yesterday, we talked about the gallery space functioning as a ‘container’, a physical framework, which anchors the virtual framework of the blog. We hope the blog will become an accumulation of small moments, observations and events, and most importantly recording an ongoing dialogue between us.

Now Andrea has gone back to Christchurch and I’m occupying Alterations here, watching the movements of people passing by, often with bemused expressions on their faces as they glimpse me; observing the shifting light, faint through the on and off drizzle outside; and getting a feel for the galley space – its volume, acoustics, smell and temperature, and other small details. The space is located at the top of a steep and narrow pedestrian passage called Plimmer Steps, named after the founding father of Wellington, whose vaguely comical statue marks the entrance of the path. Opposite is a car-park and next door is a little cafĂ©, run by a guy called Steve who made us wonderful coffee.
Laura told me about how she found the Alterations site, while going to get her skirt taken in at a tailor just over the other side on the Plimmer Steps. It seemed a coincidence that she found this shop for lease with a sign for the old business – clothing ‘alterations’. The space, apparently, was painted grey on the bottom half of the walls and green above. Though two walls were painted white, on the left wall this old colour scheme remains, the green colour now being reflected in the logo. The diamond patterned linoleum floor was washed and left as it is, as a remnant of the site’s past. A past project involved taking out the windows for the duration of the exhibition, and then re-installing them with the word ‘ALTERATIONS’ facing into the space instead of out.
There are so many potentials in the space for possible things to engage with: a tap in the corner which has no sink – but still functions, the grey wall which suggests a projection, the raised plant bed outside, etc. These remain to be explored, however here is an overview of a few ideas for props which might frame some of the activities that will occur in the space:

Creating a workspace:
On seeing the nature of the space – i.e. a shop front that is quite small, intimate, yet still open to public view – I thought that having a table in there to work at would feel too much like I was sitting behind a counter or in an office. So instead I opted to take in a blanket to sit on (camp out on), kindly lent by Laura from her home where I’m staying. It’s a light green woollen blanket, which seems to complement the green paint on the wall. I may modify this working situation, depending on what happens in the space.

At first I was thinking about making a sign that was permanent in some way, something that could become an ‘alteration’ to the space, but through our meeting on Sunday, another idea surfaced. It seemed in keeping with the durational nature of the project (in its structure as a processed based residency) that the sign, the purpose of which was to signal my attendance in the space, take the form of daily notations on the window. These notes of times and dates should accumulate over the three weeks, as a kind of durational mapping of movements in and out of the gallery space. Perhaps this process will also prompt questions about what it means to be a ‘resident’, whether that involves only time spent in situ, or whether it extends to the periods outside that space – which, being undocumented and unstructured, may cause the role of ‘resident’ to become ambiguous.
First, cleaning the windows... and writing up the blog address...

A tripod / prop for the video camera:
I plan to continue my observations and recordings of light in different spaces here at Alterations, and to facilitate that process I’ve decided to build a moveable support for my video camera – something halfway between a prop and a tripod. The idea is that while this structure will be unobtrusive and makeshift, it will function to frame the camera both as recording device, viewing device and object in its own right. Tomorrow a trip down to Bunnings to procure some thin pine lengths, clamps and butterfly bolts and perhaps even some wheels, should put this plan into action.

Possible lunar activities:
While we were discussing the project a few weeks back, Andrea told me of Amit’s idea to shift my focus from solar light to lunar light. I found this a really intriguing idea, especially because the residency was structured between two full moons, almost a whole lunar cycle. Upon seeing the space, I realised that the gap between the five story building in which it is housed and a multi-level carpark opposite was too small to let in much sunlight, let alone moonlight. However, I’ve decided to research the movements of the moon in this part of the sky, to see whether there is any time during the month during which the moon will shine directly above Plimmer Steps. If so, this could prompt any number of activities, from drawing by moonlight to sowing seeds according to biodynamic lunar planting guides. 

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