Feb 05 2021


A monthly series featuring new independent writing on contemporary art.


Feb 05 2021

ArtNow Essays is an online venue where writing’s imaginative potential meets editorial rigour. In its commitment to the essay, a form that can draw readily from journalism, criticism, and memoir, this site seeks to cultivate a culture of independent, critical and original commentary on contemporary art. Its aim is to deliver serious, well-researched, and intellectually stimulating writing to engage readers and build an informed audience for the visual arts.

Each month readers can expect an essay of 1,500 to 2,000 words, each offering a distinctively critical point of view on artists, art works, exhibitions, publications, issues or themes within the world of contemporary visual art.

ArtNow Essays is led by an independent commissioning editor who is invested in the craft and convinced of the value of writing as a device to connect artists and their practices with audiences and their contexts. They are in turn supported by an editorial advisory whose members are drawn from across Aotearoa New Zealand’s public gallery sector and with representation from freelance and emerging writers with diverse interests and backgrounds. This structure is designed to ensure independence but also secure a responsibility to the needs and aspirations of the culture.

ArtNow Essays is aimed at an audience of art experts, non-specialist but art-literate readers, and uninitiated but intellectually curious readers with interest in the visual arts. ArtNow Essays acknowledges the hybrid nature of the arts and seeks to cultivate audiences from adjacent fields including the performing arts, film, theatre, and music by covering points of common interest and convergence. Essays are free to download as PDFs and sharing is encouraged.

While based in, and committed to, the arts in Aotearoa New Zealand, ArtNow Essays understands there is a wider international context within which artists in and from Aotearoa New Zealand live and work. It seeks to keep doors and minds open and does not discriminate on the basis of age, class, race, gender, colour, belief, disability, ethnicity, sexual orientation or geographic location.

Commissioning Editor

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Photo Credit

16th Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival. Photography by Erika Stevenson.

Tendai John Mutambu is a curator, writer, film programmer, and editor based in [Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand]. Until his recent return to New Zealand, he was Assistant Curator, Commissions and Public Programmes at Spike Island in Bristol, UK. He has previously worked as Programming Fellow at Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival where he curated Artist in Focus: Marwa Arsanios; and as Assistant Curator, Contemporary at Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre. Projects include: The Conch #22 at South London Gallery (forthcoming, March 2021); WE ARE HERE, a series of five film programmes and installations of Artists’ Moving Image from the British Council and LUX collections touring internationally from 2019 to 2022; Twenty-Two Hours at ICA London as part of the BFI London Film Festival (2018); Sriwhana Spong a hook but no fish (2018), David Clegg loca projects / correction (2017); Projection Series 8: The Long Dream of Waking (2017) curated with Sarah Wall; Projection Series 7: First as Fiction, Then as Myth (2017) curated with Sophie O’Brien; Potentially Yours, The Coming Community (2016). Tendai has written for Frieze, Ocula Magazine, Runway Journal of Contemporary Art, ICA London, the British Film Institute, LUX Moving Image, Art News New Zealand, Art New Zealand and several exhibition catalogues including, most recently, Zac Langdon Pole’s Art Journey (2019).


Editorial Advisory

– Christina Barton, director Adam Art Gallery Te Pātaka Toi, art historian, curator, writer and editor based in Wellington – Anthony Byrt, writer currently working with Alt Group, Auckland – Tyson Campbell, assistant curator, Artspace Aotearoa – Abby Cunnane, director The Physics Room, Christchurch, writer and curator based in Christchurch – Ioana Gordon-Smith, curator Pātaka Art + Museum, writer based in Porirua – Hiraani Himona, director Te Tuhi, Pakuranga – Stephanie Post, co-founder and director of ArtNow, co-director of Auckland Art Fair – Hanahiva Rose, curator Govett Brewster Art Gallery, writer based in New Plymouth


Essays has been made possible through the support of Creative New Zealand Toi Aotearoa and members of the Aotearoa Public Gallery Directors’ Network (APGDN). APGDN is an informal consortium of publicly funded galleries from throughout Aotearoa New Zealand the directors of which meet occasionally to share knowledge and advice about their operations and find collective means to improve their organisations’ visibility, support the arts ecosystem in Aotearoa New Zealand, and foster audience engagement.

The idea to establish a digital platform for good, independent art writing in partnership with ArtNow.NZ was conceived during the 2020 lockdown due to the COVID pandemic.

Participating Galleries

Adam Art Gallery Te Pātaka Toi Victoria University of Wellington Artspace Aotearoa Blue Oyster Art Project Space Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū City Gallery Wellington Te Whare Toi CoCA Centre for Contemporary Art Toi Moroki Dunedin Public Art Gallery Enjoy Contemporary Art Space Expressions Whirinaki Govett Brewster Art Gallery / Len Lye Centre Gus Fisher Gallery, The University of Auckland New Zealand Portrait Gallery Te Pūkenga Whakaata Objectspace Pātaka Art + Museum Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua Whanganui Tauranga Art Gallery Toi Tauranga Te Manawa Te Tuhi Te Uru Waitākere Contemporary Gallery
The Dowse Art Museum The Physics Room The Suter Art Gallery

ArtNow Essays is independently commissioned by the editor. The views expressed on ArtNow Essays are the authors' and are not necessarily held by ArtNow.NZ, the commissioning editor, editorial advisory, participating galleries, APGDN, or Creative New Zealand. While this platform does not publish readers’ comments, constructive feedback is welcome. Send your feedback to [email protected].