Why did you initiate May Fair?
We felt there was a need to build a platform where early-career artists, independent curators, projects spaces and artist-run initiatives could be part of an art fair model that allows flexibility and inclusion regardless of whether someone operates within the parameters of a formal dealer gallery model. The participants included the inaugural 2020 May Fair have all realised exhibitions that are thoughtful and interesting with a high level of presentation, but they might be unknown to collectors because they operate within particular communities or lack representation. Supporting new art practices is integral to the development of contemporary, progressive art in Aotearoa.
When you collect you are enabling artists to keep creating work. For emerging artists in particular, this support can be critical. It’s exciting and fulfilling, especially when you collect from those working in communities who need greater representation in Aotearoa or from practitioners who are championing new ways of thinking about and creating art.
What should change?
We would love to see more platforms for a new generation of artists to engage with different audiences. We would also like to see more avenues for dedicated practitioners to sustain their art careers beyond university, outside of having formal representation or a salary role. It’s important to have more collaboration and support from within the industry to facilitate this. When we conceived May Fair, we decided to reverse the commercial model of an art fair by putting resources into our booths. We provide a participation fee and have commissioned an independent text for each booth to enrich the dialogue between our participants and visitors. Our website has pages for each artist which gives audiences insight into their practices. We really believe that artists need to be supported, and are not just exciting thinkers to extract value from.
What was the last work of art you bought?
B: A photograph by Ronan Lee. It’s covered in these beautiful resin droplets that look like rain.
O: A beaded pear by Sione Tuívialala Monū, who is showing in May Fair.
E: A satin, ripped, paint-splattered dress in buttercup yellow by the German artist Hannah Maria Schmutterer – she dressed me in it for her Wet Green performance last year and now it’s hanging on my bedroom wall.
N: A painting by Ophelia King!
What are you reading/watching/listening to?
O: I’m reading Chroma by Derek Jarman – not for the first time. Or the last.
N: I listen to Linafornia and Charlie Bones on NTS daily, and right now I’m reading Aliens & Anorexia by Chris Kraus, and Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie, a novel that reimagines Sophocles’ play Atigone unfolding among British Muslims.
B: I’ve just finished an incredible collection of poetry by Terrance Hayes.
E: Honestly? I’m listening to a lot of reggaeton.