Wednesday 2 April 2008

Reading Room Action

Just as I sit here nervously awaiting the arrival of the journal for the launch tonight, I thought we might try celebrating it electronically. About to be posted on e-flux as "the Asia Pacific’s newest peer-reviewed journal of contemporary art and culture"... this is now the second issue of Reading Room. RR is an annual publication, and an enormous undertaking by all involved. With eight substantial essays it feels more like a book in fact (and selling for just $25 is quite a bargain). Not to mention the contemporary yet elegant design...

This issue explores the theme "Transcendental Pop". And the purpose of the issue was to examine how Pop Art - but in particular Warhol - continues to influence contemporary practice. But more specifically, it's about how artists reuse Pop, extracting Warhol's belief in surface alongside his glib banality - then bending it. (Just think of his fantastic phrase I never fall apart... because I never fell together). The issue explores the artistic impulse to override surface with "depth". Where the language of popular culture is tampered with… just possibly by applying transcendence...

OK, so I’m writing this with the luxury of hindsight, but you never really know whether a subject is going to encourage other writers. It was one of the delights of the issue that there was such good pick-up from writers on the theme. Conversation took place snippets of conversation during travel, over email, and in response to both work and writing, as we attempted to broaden the subject to as many different contexts as possible.

There's an engaged, ponderous and searching feeling in all the essays which try to examine how Pop is both valued and re-utilised. The essays discuss artists: Kamrooz Aram, Eric Baudelaire, Harun Farocki, Douglas Gordon, David Hatcher, Damien Hirst, Giovanni Intra, Jeff Koons, Ed Ruscha, Darren Sylvester, Andy Warhol and more...

All essays are newly commissioned for this issue. Look for especially good writing by Aram Moshayedi, curator at LAXART, Lars Bang Larson on the art of the Occult, Rex Butler on Andy Warhol and the “Religious” Dimension. I can't mention my own of course, on football in recent art (which I thoroughly enjoyed), but in the archive section there's also a great conversational piece by Robert Leonard on the Giovanni Intra archive, and one by Ron Brownson on the 1978 Ed Rusha show at the Gallery.

There's also a new work by Gavin Hipkins in this issue, a photo series which in my opinion is one of his strongest. The commission asked Gavin to make a body of new work based on the Warhol Index Book which was signed and gifted by Andy Warhol to the E.H.McCormick Research Library, in recognition of their subscription to Interview magazine (the only one by a library in the Southern Hemisphere).

Anyway... we look forward to seeing it... and, we hope people read Reading Room. RR is published annually by the E.H. McCormick Research Library at the Auckland Art Gallery, and is edited by Christina Barton, Natasha Conland and Wystan Curnow. It is initiated and overseen by marvellous managing editor Catherine Hammond and would not be possible at all without the vision of Dr Mayo and the establishment of the Marylyn Mayo Foundation!

For any other information (including purchasing) go direct to the website:

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