Tuesday, July 7

interview: fresh and fruity (gallery space, social media endeavour)

Fresh and Fruity is not just a gallery space up the stairs at 140 George Street - it is also a social media endeavour with its own manifesto. I interviewed for Critic two members of the collective who run Fresh and Fruity, Hana Aoake and Mya Middleton, to hear more about the project.


What is Fresh and Fruity? And who are the people behind it?

Fresh and Fruity is a sexy new look. It is a social media spectacle with a physical location run by a collective in Dunedin. The collective consists of Hana Aoake, Mya Middleton, Severine Costa, Alannah Kwant and Kimmi Rindel. We are constantly challenging the relevance of having a hierarchy or ‘directors’ and finding new ways to work as a collective. Although, currently, Mya and Hana are our joint brand strategists and content editors.

How is Fresh and Fruity both original and a sexy new look?

Fresh and Fruity is a reflection of lifestyle imagery. It is a simulacra of capitalist ideals and the problems within the art world. Fresh and Fruity is intended to offer a challenge to the white cube gallery system which is inherently faux progressive and exists between the same power structures which operate within corporate spheres. Fresh and Fruity is an appropriation, a copy and will never be concerned with being ‘original’ because originality does not exist.

How is it different to gallery spaces in Dunedin? Did you start it in response to a gap or frustrations with the typical gallery process/display?

It was formed in mid-2014 by Hana Aoake and Zach Williams in response to issues around branding and lifestyle imagery and the way corporate motives merge onto art spheres. It also happened because of chance or rather the availability of the space within their studio. It has morphed into a bridging space — offering young women the chance to gain skills and experience by having shows and hosting them. Fresh and Fruity aims to create space for people who are both excluded and exploited within the art world and market, especially under a neo-colonial capitalist framework.

What challenges you as a space and a concept?

Finding ways to negate corporate art markets while maintaining a space and practice with zero budget is always a challenge. However, having a heavy online presence is incredibly useful in terms of constructing Fresh and Fruity as a space for contemporary art, a collective and a ‘lifestyle brand’. We are interested in the disappearance of ‘capitalist subjectivity’ through the use of language and imagery in social media.

What part does social media play in your practices and the running of Fresh and Fruity?

Corporatised social media is key to Fresh and Fruity’s practice. Our shows are all heavily documented to alleviate geographical distances between audiences and artist. Fresh and Fruity is also committed to having an expansive audience that operates between a url and irl format. We are interested in social media as a tool for communication. Online engagement makes up around 65 percent of our audience and allows for an experience of an artwork regardless of location and in intimate spaces such as one’s bedroom.

Are there artists and/or galleries that really excite you in New Zealand? Why/why not?

The Blue Oyster Art Project Space really excites us — we may sound biased as they have been a big helping hand in our ongoing existence, but they are consistently facilitating intriguing shows and open to challenging and critiquing the art system. They are also one of a few non-commercial galleries in Dunedin. We are also interested in North Projects in Christchurch, Enjoy in Wellington, Gertrude Contemporary in Melbourne and projects like Hapori in Auckland. We are interested in curatorial practices which operate between, yet challenge and critique, the ways in which art functions.

Are you able to describe current/upcoming projects?

One of our upcoming projects is with artist Sarah Kelleher (Misfit Mod), an electronic musician from Christchurch who will be holding an electronic music workshop for women in late July at Fresh and Fruity. We have a project at YES Collective in Auckland this month called Title title what’s a title and will be part of an event at St PAUL St Gallery, also in Auckland, called Prepersonal, transpersonal and personal, which has been organised by Georgina Watson. In November we are participating in two projects; one is in the participatory section of the Feminisms in Aotearoa show at Enjoy Gallery in Wellington, and the other is the trans/forming feminisms: media, technology, identity conference at the University of Otago.

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