Interview: Simon Gennard

We caught up with curator Simon Gennard during his curatorial internship at The Dowse Art Museum in Lower Hutt and asked a few questions about his experience there so far…


You are currently working at The Dowse as part of the CNZ/Blumhardt Curatorial Internship you were recently awarded, how has the internship been going?

The internship has been going great. The Dowse is an incredibly supportive environment. Everyone I’ve worked with has been generous with their time, patient with me as I learn, and willing to help me realise the curatorial project I proposed.

What has been the most beneficial aspect of this opportunity to intern at The Dowse?

It’s rare and valuable for someone early in their career to be able to curate an exhibition for an art museum. I’ve been given time and space to conduct research into the practices of two senior artists, Malcolm Harrison and Grant Lingard, and I’ve had the opportunity to work with designer Micheal McCabe in developing a new project for the show.

In terms of learning, I’ve found it incredibly useful to observe and assist The Dowse’s curators, Melanie Oliver and Sian van Dyk, on their own projects. I’ve seen how lasting, genuine relationships can be nurtured between curators and artists, and how curatorial practice can mean creating spaces where people — artists, audiences, writers — can meet.

We have heard about your upcoming exhibition Sleeping Arrangements can you tell us a little about how this came about?

The exhibition pivots around a moment in the early 1990s. It features four artists from three different generations, Malcolm Harrison, Grant Lingard, Zac Langdon-Pole, and Micheal McCabe.

In particular, I’m interested in looking at the vocabularies these artists use or used to come to terms with the complications and contradictions of sexuality, and the radical changes that these vocabularies have undergone in a short time. For example, Harrison never came out during his lifetime, but his works, especially his works from the early 1990s are undeniably queer. Lingard, on the other hand, born 20 years after Harrison, made work that was unapologetically queer and unapologetically political

The show really started in The Dowse’s collection. There are several of Harrison’s quilts housed here, and they haven’t been shown in a long time. Among other things, this is a chance to recontextualise Harrison’s practice, and bring his work into an intergenerational conversation.

Will you have any programmes associated with the show that we should diary?

On the opening day of the exhibition, Saturday 21st April, at 2 pm Micheal McCabe will be speaking about his new project waiting outside (2018). Micheal has designed a pair of benches which will sit in the middle of the gallery. Micheal calls the benches ‘queer objects.’ By this, he’s referring to the awkward juxtaposition of plywood and vinyl sheet flooring, as well as to the re-orientations of the body in space and time the benches elicit in their sitters.

On 26 May, at 2 pm, community organisers Richard Benge and Kevin Jensen, and writer Julia Craig will be speaking on creative responses to the AIDS Crisis.

Has there been any one exhibition you have viewed which has stuck with you? What and where was this?

Aliyah Winter’s exhibition Hardening at Enjoy Public Art Gallery. Aliyah’s work is complex and elegant. I know there are a couple of essays being written in response to that show. I’m really looking forward to returning to that work through someone else’s eyes.

What are you currently reading?

Where the Stress Falls by Susan Sontag

What/who are your favourite blogs/news sites to follow online?

e-flux, The New Inquiry, London Review of Books, FuckTheory’s email newsletter

What are your plans after the internship finishes?


Gloss (1. My body a clot of inscriptions)_2016

Zac Langdon-Pole, Gloss (1. My body a clot of inscriptions), 2016, courtesy of the artist and Michael Lett


ZLP, My Body

Zac Langdon-Pole, My Body… (Brendan Pole), 2015, courtesy of the artist and Michael Lett


MH, Nightswimmer

Malcolm Harrison, Night Swimmer, 1991, Collection of The Dowse Art Museum


MM, Building has limits

Micheal McCabe, building has limits, a club has to end, 2017, installation view at Window Gallery, Auckland, courtesy of the artist


Inaugural Unfolding of the Quilt

Inaugural Unfolding of the New Zealand AIDS Memorial Quilt, Auckland Art Gallery, Auckland, 5 October 1991, photographer unknown