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Biennale report misses the point

Katherine Rich MP National Party Trade and Enterprise Spokeswoman

31 May 2006

Biennale report misses the point

National Party MP Katherine Rich says an $80,000 report out today on New Zealand's participation in the Venice Biennale totally misses the point.

"The controversy was about the selection of an anonymous artist, who refused to appear publicly to promote the work, or promote New Zealand, and whose artwork did not reflect a Kiwi flavour."

Mrs Rich says the report appears to have canvassed only the views of a selected few interested parties, including Creative New Zealand staff.

"What we've ended up with is a group of academics who have unanimously reached the conclusion that New Zealanders simply didn't understand the 'et al.' work and merely needed to be educated about it.

"But surely the question which wasn't asked is, should we be sending art work that promotes New Zealand, promotes New Zealand art and has a distinctively Kiwi feel about it?

"I think most Kiwis question whether 'Fundamental Practice' said anything about New Zealand, or New Zealand art.

"Australia has previously used the Biennale as a showcase for Aborigine art and a venue to advance Australian arts and culture."

Mrs Rich, who is National's spokeswoman for Trade and Enterprise, says the suggestion of additional funding from Trade and Enterprise for the next Biennale will inevitably need to be subjected to thorough scrutiny.

"The prospect of further taxpayer funding for this event will cause some irritation for those who don't think 'et al.' was the right choice last time. Getting the selection criteria right is also key to securing corporate backing.

"This is an opportunity to showcase New Zealand art and a New Zealand artist in front of the global arts community. The fact that 'et al.' wouldn't front, and that her work didn't really say anything about New Zealand, is an issue that Creative New Zealand needs to deal with.

"This report doesn't address that substantive issue at all," says Mrs Rich.


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