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July 13, 2009 | by  | in Visual Arts | [ssba]

The Future is Unwritten


The collapse of the mortgage system based on virtual credit and the consequent recession is an issue which has been virtually unavoidable in most political and media forums. This is certainly understandable; the recession has spurred an uncertainty—over the depth of its impact, the expected length of recovery, and the best cause of action—which lends itself to political discussion. The presence of a primarily economic threat, whether perceived or real, has for many brought about the need to critically reassess unchallenged notions of capitalism and modernity.

The Future is Unwritten, the current exhibition on at the Adam Art Gallery, explores the discursive potential that such uncertainty can create. The title of the exhibition shrewdly works on many levels; it plays on both the fact that the future is unknown as well as referring to the need to ‘unwrite’ traditional structures of power in order to move forward past this perceived time of crisis. Laura Preston, the curator of the exhibition, describes the artworks as “a series of propositions for embracing this time of uncertainty, where structures and systems that we have come to know are being brought into focus and redefined—from the mechanisms of the capitalist system and the imminent risks to the environment, to the modernist idea of progress”.

Underlying the exhibition is the question of the efficacy of art in promoting ideas, and its potential as a forum for political discussion. The aim to use art as a catalyst for political thought is clear from the outset, as Preston proposes that this exhibition “is a beginning rather than the culmination of an event”.

The interactive capabilities of art also reflect a third suggestion of the title’s exhibition: that the future will convey ideas and messages through form rather than text. Consequently, the very method of display is extremely significant. The work of artists is divided so that six artists showcase their artworks physically in the Adam Art Gallery, and three artists display their art online via the Adam Art Gallery website.

The location of the gallery on a university campus suggests an interesting complexity of issues. As a site of learning which aspires to spur critical thinking, the presence of the university could add potency to the artists’ ability to engage with political ideas. Simultaneously, the university environment which preferences intellectual thought could be perceived as one of the traditional methods of the very power structures that are now under scrutiny.

If you can’t get to the Adam Art Gallery, don’t worry, it’s coming to you. Artists from the exhibition will be submitting art for the next five issues of Salient. Make sure to keep an eye out for the art pages—whether or not you do is partly the issue at stake.

The Future is Unwritten
11 July–30 August 2009
In the building: Fiona Connor, William Hsu, Daniel Malone, Kate Newby, Martyn Reynolds, Peter Trevelyan
Online: Amit Charan, Narrow Gauge, Kelvin Soh

Curated by Laura Preston


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Comments (5)

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  1. Daniel Malone says:

    I’m one of the artists in this show and I have no issues with the above review but I do have an issue with the page works which you mention in the last paragraph. Mine was censored and my letter below seeking to respond to this and to Jackson Wood’s letter of ‘explanation’ (see below my letter) was ignored. So I’m posting it here in the hope of some healthy discussion. If anyone should want to see the ‘offending article’ please email at the address below and I’d be happy to send it (I can’t attach it here).
    Apologies this is a bit long for such a context but I hope it’s relevance carries it.
    Regards, Daniel Malone

    Begin forwarded message:

    From: Daniel Malone
    Date: 31 lipca 2009 20:01:09 GMT+02:00
    To: Jackson Wood
    Subject: Letter to the Editor

    Dear Sir

    Regarding the exclusion of my page work from Salient (“issue 15: Te Aomarama—The Te Reo issue”) and your letter of explanation.

    I find both the action of the magazine and your response totally unacceptable.

    Firstly I am completely baffled that you propose the’ theme’ of the magazine as the reason that my page work was excluded when it was clearly a response to this theme and your invitation for page works. If this work was found somehow irrelevant, or ill-informed, or even offensive, then I would rightfully expect an editorial comment to this effect, preferably with the standard intention of adjusting and publishing the work, as with any other magazine content.

    The fact that such a failing in due process has taken place in a University / Student magazine, in the midst of a run of issues with the patent intention of engaging social and political questions is pathetic. Your abdication of responsibility to Ngai Tauira is cowardly as you facilitated their contribution from the same position of responsibility, as the magazines Editor, that you proposed that artists from the concurrent exhibition, The Future Is Unwritten, at the UVW’s Adam Art Gallery, contribute page works. You didn’t make a “Tough call”, you made the quintessential easy call, and regretfully it seems you have engaged in nothing less than the censorship of an artwork for either the feeblest or the most banal of reasons: so was it avoidance of any genuine engagement, or simply laziness?

    Lets give you the benefit of the doubt and look closer at the first of these which begs the question – was it simply a token gesture to hand over “95% of the content” to Ngai Tauira or was it in fact a meaningful act to facilitate a platform for some real issues, concerns and current affairs of Maori living in Aotearoa New Zealand to be engaged in?

    What aspect of my page work failed to do this or compromised this process? Perhaps you didn’t bother to ask this, any more than you passed such a concern on to me, but for the record while my ‘New New Zealand Flag’ is not a new proposition I felt it had real relevance to this issue of Salient and the present discussion around a Maori flag. It is not a proposal for a Maori flag but one that reconsiders the existing Aotearoa New Zealand flag in relation to our changing sense of ourselves as a nation and people. The text that I added for the context of this Te Reo issue was to reflect this transformation: whaka-maori / becoming-maori. It is a play on words, one that echos the Te Reo verb ‘whakamaori’ describing a translation or rendering into Maori, while giving air to the meanings of the single components. Whaka, with it’s ubiquitous function as a stative verb prefix, a causing-to-be or change-in-process, is coupled with maori (again in it’s stative form, with a small ‘m’, not as a noun), with its beautiful and remarkable combination of senses of belonging, of the common, and being unrestrained.

    I can understand that these meanings might be considered esoteric, or misunderstood, or even understood with negativity. However I also understand all of these responses to be legitimate within the realm of Art, of politics, and, call me old fashioned, especially within student magazines that claim to have produced ‘world famous journalism since 1938′.

    Mock-ironic parochialism aside, you needn’t indulge your patronising concern that you have discouraged me from engaging in print media any longer. Such stupidity is precisely why I continue to do so.


    Daniel Malone
    Warsaw, Poland

    On 2009-07-30, at 00:06, Jackson Wood wrote:

    Hi Daniel,

    Apologies for not including your page work in this weeks edition of Salient.

    There are a few reasons for this.

    The first one is that as you know it is Te Wiki Te Reo Maori. For this week the editor of Salient gives editorial control of the magazine to the Maori Students association Ngai Tauira.

    If you’ve seen a copy you’ll understand that 95% of the content this week was in Te Reo and about 98% was provided by NT.

    So I was making very few editorial decisions.

    The decision to include your page work was not mine, and unfortunately the representatives from NT did not want to include your work in their magazine.

    Tough call.

    I also apologize for taking so long to get back to you. As you can appreciate this is a busy job and I often forget/misplace/don’t think of peoples’ feelings when I don’t publish their work.

    I hope this is ok and I have not discouraged you from engaging in print media again.



  2. Andrew says:

    Daniel Malone is obviously a retard. Could you be any more superfluously highfalutin?

  3. Hank Scorpio says:

    Haha, cry about it Daniel, you fucking baby.

  4. Dwight says:

    Artist tears himself away from the mirror long enough to have a whinge about Salient not publishing a review of his artwork that he wrote himself, in an issue that nobody reads anyway.

  5. hmm says:

    hey, i’d like to get a copy of the article, can you put your email address or a link to it online? cheers

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