Interview: Asia New Zealand 2017 Curators Tour Participants

Asia New Zealand Foundation and Creative New Zealand recently announced the successful candidates for the 2017 curators programme in Taiwan and Japan. They are: Sarah McClintock, Curation and Collection Manager at The Suter Art Gallery Te Aratoi o Whakatu, Sophie Davis, Curator/Manager at Enjoy Public Art Gallery, and Sarah Wall, Assistant Len Lye Curator at Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre.

The curators will visit leading art museums, galleries, and artist spaces in Taiwan and Japan over a two to three-week period in October to build their professional networks and explore possible future collaborations and artistic exchanges.

We got in touch with each of them to hear what they have planned during the tour…


What are you most looking forward to on the tour?

Sophie Davis (SD) I’m excited about the possibility of meeting artists, curators, gallerist and designers in Japan and Taiwan who could potentially become collaborators and colleagues — and in general, experiencing new places and their artistic and cultural contexts. The experience offered by the Curator Tour is incredibly unique — it’s an opportunity for learning and reflection outside of my day-to-day work environment.

Sarah McClintock (SM) There are so many things that I am looking forward to on the tour. With the tour we get the unique opportunity to deep dive into the contemporary art scenes of Taiwan and Japan. In Japan I am thrilled that we are headed to the Yokohama Trienniale and Naoshima. I have heard from colleagues who have been on past tours that Taiwan is an incredibly special place with a lot of resonance with art practices in New Zealand and I am excited to experience as much as possible. I am also looking forward to getting to know Sophie and Sarah. It is an incredible experience that we will be sharing.

Sarah Wall (SW) The three-week tour is filled with an intense programme of gallery visits and meetings with local curators, artists and galleries. I’m most looking forward to exploring Japan and Taiwan’s local art scenes, visiting exhibition spaces and networking and exchanging with local artists and arts professionals.


What appealed to you about this particular opportunity?

SD: As someone who is still relatively new to the field, the tour is an opportunity to experience diverse art practices and arts initiatives in Asia and to broaden and re-orientate my curatorial strategies. It’s an entry point into the vast and complex artistic contexts of Japan and Taiwan, this year’s tour locations, which specifically interest me for a number of different reasons. I’m excited about learning more about the material cultures of these countries, particularly concerning relationships between art, graphic design and published media.

SM: I have been interested in the Asia-Pacific paradigm for quite some time, having curated a show in 2016 that examined part of it, and I knew that the 2017 Asia New Zealand Foundation Curator Programme would give me access to artists, curators, writers and guides that would be impossible to find on a self-guided tour. Asia New Zealand has created an amazing tour that attracts some of the best curators in the country and the work they have achieved as a result of participating was a huge inspiration for applying.


Are you approaching the trip with a particular focus in mind, if so, what is your main purpose?

SD: I’ve come to my role at Enjoy having been involved in artist-run and independent arts initiatives. I’m interested in the potential of grassroots spaces and their ability to pose other ways of presenting and engaging with artwork. So, I’m particularly interested in the opportunity to start dialogues with independent spaces in Taiwan and Japan that could serve as the basis for exhibition/programming exchanges.

Enjoy is a small, independent space — which means we can be quite responsive and agile in the way we generate projects and collaborations. I’m lucky to have a relatively large amount of creative freedom in my position. That said, realising projects with an international focus can be difficult for us without additional resources and support. In the past, the Asia New Zealand foundation has been a really important partner in developing Enjoy’s engagement with Asia and Asian artists. I want to keep building on this.

SM: I am broadly interested in meeting and connecting with potential collaborators in Japan and Taiwan. More specifically I am going to be using the trip to work towards several exhibitions, with a particular focus on examining contemporary and historic links between Asian and Aotearoa New Zealand craft.

SW: The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre provides the framework for my current research into artists working at the intersection of film, sound, and sculpture. I’m very much focused on visiting institutions and artists working in and across the fields of contemporary moving image and media arts, with a view to future projects and creative exchange.


What are your top three ‘must pack’ items for a trip like this?

SD: Good walking shoes for gallery-going, extra Wi-Fi data (I have a terrible sense of direction so need Google maps at all times!) and sunblock.

SM: In a new school meets old school approach to travel, two of my must pack items are my iPhone and a notebook. I use both for everything and cannot function without them! I have also decided to be practical and invest in a good pair of walking shoes. We will be exploring non-stop for three weeks and I don’t want anything to slow me down!

SW: A note book, camera, and noise cancellation headphones!