Art experiences often don’t require wordy explanations, but whatever these experiences could be classed as, they definitely moved us.

Brian Brake: Lens on the World (Te Papa)
A gobsmackingly great retrospective of NZ’s most well known photographer.
Brian Brake “moved in artistic circles in Wellington in the late 1940s and early 1950s” photographing dancers and musicians before moving to Europe and scoring an incredibly glamourous job at Paris-based Magnum back in the heady heyday of photojournalism. In the time before Google image search, opening a magazine and seeing an illustrated story on the Middle East or an image of gobsmacking beauty like this one would have been quite an experience, standing in front of the images today is not too bad either.

Festival Season (City Gallery)
After wowing us last year with the dot-tastic Yayoi Kusama exhibition, the City Gallery did good again with their Festival Season exhibition. The three key artists were Janet Cardiff, whose installation work The Forty-Part Motet had 40 speakers each playing a different singer of a 40-part motet; a major collection of recent works by New Zealand artist Seraphine Pick; and Trans-Form: The Abstract Art of Milan Mrkusich. For both locals and visitors for the festival, it was a fine selection of contemporary art.

Free Store - Part of the Letting Space series

Letting Space (Wellington Independent Arts Trust)
The Letting Space series of installation projects using vacant commercial space made an impact, creating feelings ranging from warm, fuzzy niceness to outrage and horror. The series started with sound artist Dugal McKinnon’s work with old tape recorders, then Kim Paton’s Free Store gave away unwanted food and goods, and Tao Wells caused an almighty ruckus with his Beneficiary’s Office provoking powerful public debate on the nature of employment. The series continues with three more artists bringing life to empty parts of the city.

Monsters (Run Amuck Collective at MyGalaxi)
MyGalaxi is a basement art and event space that is home to Art Markets and other collective happenings that bring the business without the backing from the usual sources.  Well done you independent battlers you.  Monsters was the follow up to the wildly successful Robots exhibition that was visited by over 2000 people in five days back in 2009. Apparently monsters are popular too especially when you mix in steampunk, tikis, creepy-cute jewellery and retro robots.  Fun, fun, fun.

NZ At The Venice Biennale 2009 (Te Papa)
Judy Millar’s giant slabs of art in Giraffe-Bottle-Gun and Francis Upritchard’s detailed figurines in Save Yourself brought home NZ’s contribution to the international showcase of contemporary art.