On Conversation

A monthly meet-up to discuss the use of conversation in contemporary art as part of the ongoing Negotiating Conversational Frequencies project.

First Meeting – Speech genres in artworks
6 – 7:30 pm
Tuesday 23 May
Audio Foundation
4 Poynton Terrace
Sub-basement of the Parisian Tie Factory
Off Pitt St, or behind St Kevins Arcade
Auckland CBD

We will discuss Mikhail Bakhtin’s theory of speech genres and share and discuss examples of different the genres that have been used in specific artworks we have made or seen.

Bakhtin contended that “[t]he wealth and diversity of speech genres are boundless because the various possibilities of human activity are inexhaustible, and because each sphere of activity contains an entire repertoire of speech genres that differentiate and grow as the particular sphere develops and becomes more complex. Special emphasis should be placed on the extreme heterogeneity of speech genres (oral and written).”

You can download a summary of Bakhtin’s theory here
Or the full essay The problem of Speech Genres here

About Negotiating Conversational Frequencies

In September 2016 the Performance Ethics Working Group ran a four week discussion series as part of the Share/Cheat/Unit exhibition at Te Tuhi. This discussion series focussed on the rise of conversation as a medium in art and what the nature and formal properties of this practice are.


Spinoza’s Ethics

The Ethics is Spinoza’s great masterwork that contains most of the principles of his philosophy. It can be notoriously daunting to read since large portions of it is written in “geometric” propositions rather than in paragraphed prose — but it is also one of the most rewarding books to read in the history of Western philosophy, partly because it contains so much (a whole theory of existence in less than 200 pages), and because it effectively offers a manual for human life: what it means to live well and be happy, to join forces with the other forces around us, to reconfigure our raging doubts and natural appetites into a state of equanimity, and to manage the inevitable human suffering that comes with being finite and mortal.

We will begin to read and discuss Spinoza’s Ethics in March in a reading group facilitated by Eu Jin Chua. For more information go to the course page

Book: Benedict de Spinoza, Ethics
Location: RM Gallery, 3 Samoa House Lane (off Beresford Square, Karangahape Road area)
Fortnightly, Mondays 6 – 7:30 pm
Begins: 6 March

Summer Reading

Over December 2016, running through to February 2017 the philosophy reading group will be engaging with short texts containing big ideas. Each session (unevenly spaced) will focus on a different text/author and be decided on the session before.

Session 1
Wednesday 7 December 2016, 6 pm
Location: Auckland Central Library, Te Marama Room,
Level 1, 44 – 46 Lorne St, Auckland CBD (far corner behind the Level 1 assistance desk)

The first session will read Donna Haraway’s influential A Cyborg Manifesto, first published in 1985, against her most recent writing on the Anthropocene, Capitalocene and Chthulucene found in her 2016 book Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. In specific we will read Chapter 2, TentacularThinking: Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chthulucene

See you there!

Making and Talking Temporary Objects Series

“They ease back into Earth and allow people to keep creating, rather than be tied to the objects that already exist.”

“We all know the pleasure of making things and making temporary things is an excellent, low-impact way to pass the time. Imagine a world full of such things – it would have so much more creative possibility and beauty than the world we live in now.”

(Niki Harre – Temporary Objects)

In Making and Talking Temporary Objects we will see what we can learn by creating temporary objects together and imagining a pleasurable and beautiful “world of such things” with some help from relevant texts and other materials.

Continuing and collaborating with Xin Cheng’s Living, Making, Together series [1] [2] this series meets in the living, ever-changing, decomposing Organic Making Space in Mairangi Bay, near the Mairangi Arts Centre.

Each meeting we will experiment and play with making temporary things with resources at hand and encounter a short passage of text (a quote or paragraph from a longer text) to be pulled out of a hat to use as a foothold for a roaming discussion.

Various snacks will be provided but feel welcome to bring something frugal and hand-made to snack on together, and a word, quote or short passage of text that you think is relevant to add to our lucky dip of text-based inspiration. Any other interesting stuff also welcome.

Ideas and suggestions for activities most welcome.

Location: Mairangi Bay Park (the end near the tennis courts) (5mins walk from bus stop in Mairangi Bay Village, free parking available for drivers) – MAP
Time: Drop in any time between 5.00-7.00 most Mondays in December (5, 12, 19) 2016 and January (9, 16, 23) 2017.
Transport: If you are coming from the CBD the 86X Bowns Bay (e.g. from Wellesley St Opp Albion) will get you there in around 28 mins. If you prefer the Northern Express Chris can pick up/drop off a group at the Constellation bus station.

The gatherings are open to anyone who wishes to participate – children, people with or without ‘gold’ cards, various abilities… –  and we encourage you to forward this invitation to your networks.

The caretaker of this series is Chris Berthelsen (chris@a-small-lab.com / 022-0854-866 – http://a-small-lab.com | http://small-workshop.info) along with Xin Cheng (http://xin-cheng.info) who transmits powers from Hamburg.


Living, Making Together 2: potluck series

Do you have something to share around the ideas of livelihood, how we relate to each other and other beings on this planet, and forms of self-organisation? It could be a reading, a story, body exercises, a game, a drawing activity, a walk, something to touch and be passed around. Ideas, suggestions for activities most welcome. Email xin [at] makeshifting.net

We are planning a continuation of the earlier series Living, making, together, except each gathering will feature two or three hosts, each bringing something to share (20 minutes of activity and some snacks), followed by discussion. We will start on Monday 12 September 6pm and go for 5 weeks (till October 10).

The sharing will respond to and ramble from the previous gatherings. The discussion will focus on working out ways that the ideas can be practice in our daily lives, to try things out before dismissing them.

The gathering will take place at WG building, AUT, through this exploring how we might reclaim spaces for public use. Meet 6pm at NewsFeed Cafe. Entrance to WG Building and the NewsFeed Cafe can be found in the pedestrianised area between Mayoral Drive and Governor Fitzroy Place.  http://osm.org/go/uuVhPgPLb?m=

Bring your own cup for tea and eating implements.

The gatherings are open to anyone who wishes to participate and we encourage you to forward this invitation to your networks. We will be reading, tasting and experiencing an unexpected mixture each week, and experimenting with how we can use them in our daily lives. The group is facilitated by Xin Cheng xin [at] makeshifting.net who will be learning alongside and with everyone who participates.

On Conversation

The Performance Ethics Working Group is pleased to announce a new research initiative ‘On Conversation’ focussing on the specific aesthetic, ethical and social/political aspects of conversation in contemporary art. The first part of this research will take place alongside the exhibition Share/Cheat/Unite at Te Tuhi during September 2016.

Read more about it here

Living, making, together

We’re currently planning a new series, five gatherings exploring ideas around livelihood, how we relate to each other and other beings on this planet, and forms of self-organisation. They will start on Monday June 20 and go for 5 weeks (27 June, 4, 11 & 18 July)

We will take bites off these books as starting points for the discussions:

  • Week 1 – Kyohei Sakaguchi: Build Your Own Independent Nation (Chapter 3: Trade by Expression, with Attitude Your Currency, download here) Optional homework: bring an example of attitude economy from your daily life to share next week.
  • Week 2 – Charles Eisenstein: Sacred Economics, Introduction. (Optional text from the same author: Disruption, from The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible)
  • Week 3 – David Abram: Becoming Animal http://wildethics.org/essay/key-quotes-from-becoming-animal-an-earthly-cosmology/ (download the full text in epub here, or pdf here)
  • Week 4 – Discussion on stories and threads across the previous three readings and Charles Eisenstein: Disruption, from The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible (Note: one-offspecial location at WG building, AUT, meet 6pm at NewsFeed Cafe)
  • Week 5 – Tim Ingold: Making, Chapter 7: Bodies on the Run (download a pdf here)
    George Monbiot: Rewilding, Chapter 2: The Wild Hunt (download the chapter in pdf here, or the whole book in epub here)

The discussions will take place in RM’s lovely reading room on the first floor of 3 Samoa House Lane, Auckland. To get to it you have to go around the back via Beresford St, down Samoa House Lane and up one flight of stairs. All the sessions will start at 6:00 pm and run for an hour and a half.

The gatherings are open to anyone who wishes to participate and we encourage you to forward this invitation to your networks. We will be reading, discussing and experiencing specific sections each week, and experimenting how we can use them in our daily lives. The group is facilitated by Xin Cheng [xin at makeshifting.net] who will be learning alongside and with everyone who participates.

Xin Cheng would like to acknowledge the support from New Zealand Japan Exchange Programme (NZJEP) for the “research and doing” tour in Japan, which enabled the encounter with Sakaguchi’s text.


“when we say that we organize in the shadow of the university, we mean that we organize with those who have been used and abused by the university-as-such: students and workers of color who endure institutional racism while having their images used in the name of diversity; precariously employed adjunct faculty who must rely on social or communal assistance for survival; exploited graduate teaching fellows still urged to play the rigged academic game; custodial and food services staff who are treated as disposable in patriarchal and racist divisions of labor; so-called “dropouts” who’ve been ejected from the university because they can’t stand its discipline; students and former students who will be haunted by debt for decades; and organizers who educate, study, and research outside and in spite of the university’s present configurations.”