Julian Dashper’s work Untitled (CV), various dates, presents the artist’s curriculum vitae, updated each time his work is exhibited. The artwork continues Julian’s interest in the support structures that scaffold the art world; the mechanisms for framing, documenting and publicising art. Like much of Julian’s work it’s serious even when humorous.
A cv is a statement about an artist’s career. There’s jostling for attention early on and more strategic positioning once established. But working on our upcoming book of the cv, Julian Dashper Untitled CV, I’m struck afresh by the generosity of Julian’s practice, continuing to exhibit in artist-run spaces throughout his career to encourage new generations of artists. In the documentary Julian Dashper My Space Julian, talking about the often elusive nature of his work, says jokingly, “every time you make an exhibition you lose a friend”. Yet the reverse was true, his cv charts the growing networks he built, first in Auckland then nationally then overseas, from New York to Amsterdam.
Now, almost 10 years after his death in 2009, the cv resonates differently, as a stand-in for the artist, a posthumous portrait. I’ve come to understand each entry as a capsule, the container for a variety of social encounters, from the exhibition install to the opening discussions and the post-opening dinner.
Certain entries stand out: for Frank, my co-editor, there’s Julian’s first ever solo exhibition, Motorway Schools, at 100m2 in 1980, the gallery founded and run by Frank in Auckland. He recalls, “Julian was one of the catalysts for starting the gallery. He had formed a kind of duo of expressionist enfants terrible at art school with Julian Hanson – the Juliano Brothers – and I got used to seeing both of them splash a lot of messy paint about. Julian D’s was the first solo show scheduled. I should have realised that things were going in an unexpected direction when he asked me to go down to the bush below the Elam buildings one night to help him record the white noise of cars whooshing by. On installation day he turned up with three polaroids and a tape deck.”
For myself, the 1997 entry reading “The Honeymoon Suite, Dunedin” is particularly special, as it was the first time I exhibited Julian’s work, at the artist-run space that Jonathan Nicol, Warren Olds and I ran. Julian was the most established artist we’d shown and we were beside ourselves with excitement when he made contact. His warmth, professionalism and kindness at what was really a rather ad hoc venture have remained with me since as an exemplar.
In making a posthumous book we’ve had to make decisions about what Julian would have wanted and we’re immensely grateful to Marie Shannon and the Julian Dashper Estate not just for allowing us to work with the material but for steering us in these decisions. Thanks also to Michael Lett for his support.
Julian Dashper Untitled CV will be launched in early September at SPRING 1883 in conjunction with a Julian Dashper project by Michael Lett. Following that, we will hold an Auckland book launch. Please email me at emma.bugden[at]gmail.com if you would like to be added to the invite list or to pre-order the book.
Emma Bugden, SBB Editor