Callum, Jesse, and Jordana are three emerging artists who run MEANWHILE, a new artist-run initiative located in the CBD on 35 Victoria Street.
I first met Jordana when she came over to my flat in Aro Valley after the series of earthquakes that hit Wellington in 2013. She was friends with my flatmate Yvette and living in a single apartment. Together we comforted each other during the aftershocks. Callum and I became friends in a sculpture paper in my third year at art school. He made an artwork with balloons, I made a readymade with objects from friends and ex-boyfriends. I met Jesse in studio class as we shared the top studio in block two. He helped me mix concrete for the first time.
Hi, could each of you tell me a little bit about yourself and how you all met:
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Jordana: Hello, my name is Jordana Bragg: 5’1, Aries Sun, Pisces Moon, Gemini Ascending.
I moved to Wellington in 2012 at the age of 17 to pursue a BFA (Hons) degree at Massey University Wellington, studying alongside Callum and Jesse, and graduating last year having developed an on-going video based performance practice. I currently work at City Gallery Wellington as a front of house host and audio-visual technician.
My first vivid memory of meeting Callum is walking with him down the middle of Tasman Street at 2am on my way home from a house party in second year, and his offering to buy me chocolate at the petrol station.
I don’t remember the specifics of meeting Jesse but remember admiring him from afar for a very long time in studio class.
Last year in our fourth and final year at art school (2015) we collaborated as an exhibition group, alongside Samuel Jackson, on an exhibition titled Stay On. Pdf (8 Egmont Street, Wellington).
Jesse: Hello, I’m Jesse Bowling.
I’m currently working full time at MEANWHILE and on my own art projects. I do part-time art installation and other stuff.
I started a BFA (Hons) at Massey when I was 21. I walked into the museum building for the first day welcome and was late. I sat through the first year group photo and then joined a “get to know your peers” thing. I was paired in a group with Callum and we hit it off, <3.
Like Jordana, I don’t remember the specifics, but I remember she was in my second year studio group and I used to work at night in the studios. She would also be there making heaps of art and I always thought to myself who is this girl constantly here late like me. She was killing critiques and always had great conversation.
Callum: My full name is Callum Alexander Devlin. I am a twin. According to Myers Briggs I am an ENFP which means I’m basically doomed romantically speaking. I work for CIRCUIT Artist Film and Video Aotearoa New Zealand. I make art about myself.
I moved to Wellington from Christchurch in 2012 to study Fine Arts at Massey. Jesse and I did meet on day one and I like to mention that when I introduce Jesse to people. He’s the only one who has properly kept up with my absurd artistic practice so I trust his opinion before anyone else’s.
I remember Jordana and I being awkwardly interviewed via an iPad in second year about our experiences at Massey (that video is probably buried in the deep web somewhere). Jordana and I first worked together on an exhibition in third year, a hyper-conceptual rule-based art experiment where we met at 8am every day for two weeks to try and make ourselves better people.
I have made all of my closest friends through working with them, and I trust these two deeply both professionally and personally.
What is MEANWHILE and how did the name come about?
Jordana: Established July this year, with support from Club Mirage (Auckland), MEANWHILE is an artist-run initiative based out of 35 Victoria Street, Wellington, New Zealand.
Jesse: MEANWHILE has come after many conversations we have had about wanting an ARI (Artist Run Initiative) in Wellington that supported contemporary emerging art projects and that’s run by emerging artists. We were contacted by a fellow ARI organiser, Sam Thomas (Snake Pit, Club Mirage), from Auckland about the space we are operating out of. Meetings etc. happened and now we are MEANWHILE, with a window space, a gallery to be opened shortly, and artist studios which currently house nine artists.
Callum and I were brainstorming names for the window space as we didn’t know if we were going to be secured with a full gallery space. The name needed to be temporal enough that it fitted the circumstances. But also funky fresh.
Artist run initiatives are organised as non-for profit, temporal spaces often showing, experimental based works. Why is it important for artist run spaces to exist?
Jordana: I think the answer is in the question. MEANWHILE, like many other NZ based ARIs, is here first and foremost to facilitate and promote emergent and experimental writing, curation, and contemporary art practice, in all forms, on and offline.
We developed out of a need to nurture and support the exceptional work of contemporary New Zealand and international artists and to challenge current understandings of the potential for contemporary art spaces, writing, curation, and artistic practice.
MEANWHILE has exhibited three shows so far this year. What are the preparations behind running the space, exhibiting artists, and the curatorial processes?
Jordana: To date we have hosted three Wellington based artist exhibitions: Josephine Jelich, Works in Town; The Welcoming Party, Free Time; Elijah Winter, The Horror of Nothing To See.
Jesse: Paint a wall white, invite your friends and community, have a few VBs.
We want to show killer work. We are engaged with the community in Wellington so we have approached artists who we think, to our mind, show a broad array of mediums and concepts to fill the window space with.
Callum: At the moment we’re right at the top of this project. We’re broke, we don’t have a proper website or walls or any sort of sustainable infrastructure. The artists who we chose to work with are people that we trust, and trust us. And that’s a big deal for us. We’re also artists, so we want to work with artists in the way that we’d wanted to be treated, represented, and respected. So we’re figuring that out.
Our process so far has involved a lot of meetings, plunger coffee, and ginger nuts. And talking about our feelings.
Jesse: What’s wrong with our walls Callum?
Callum: Needs at LEAST one more coat of paint mate.
How do you balance the managing of a space as well as maintaining your own art practice?
Jordana: I don’t really. I don’t see anything as a balance because nothing is completely separable to me, although I do make lists to process and compartmentalise. I’m a pragmatist in many ways. I suppose I spend most of my time visualising completing things, which helps, if I can’t see myself doing something I just won’t do anything.
Also: plunger coffee, red wine, pop music, good conversation, and cigarettes.
Callum: Balance is hard. There are always emails or messages to respond to. I have four Gmail accounts which is a pretty efficient strategy for avoiding getting any real work done. I spend all of my time talking to people, which is simultaneously a distraction and a big part of my process. I just know that when I’m taking minutes I’m on the clock.
Can you tell me about a current project / upcoming project?
Jordana: Opening this month (September 28, Wednesday), MEANWHILE will host the first of many exhibitions / projects / events to appear around Wellington from September-October 2016 as part of Cyber Nectar, a four month collaborative project between multidisciplinary artist Hana Pera Aoake and I (founded by the art initiative Lokal Stories, and funded by WCC and CNZ).
The exhibition will feature new works by Audrey Baldwin (Ōtautahi), Katherine Botten (Melbourne), Sophie Cassar (Melbourne), Quishile Charan (Tāmaki Makaurau), Klien (London), and Ayesha Tan-Jones (London).
Finally, what are your hopes and dreams for MEANWHILE?
Jesse: In November we will be opening our doors officially as a gallery space so that’s real exciting. I know we are going to make a positive impact in the current Wellington art scene and that’s what excites me the most about doing this. I don’t really have hopes, I am confident, and dreams? This is pretty much a dream at its most basic level.
Jordana: I am both logistically and blindly optimistic about what MEANWHILE is and what it can and will be, but I prefer to keep hopes and dreams out of it for now as it is a day by day, step by step thing.
Callum: I have big plans.
Like MEANWHILE on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MEANWHILE.wgtn/
Follow MEANWHILE on Instagram: @meanwhile.wgtn
Get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
Join MEANWHILE for the opening of The Gaze is Not Something You Have or Use (It is a relationship entered into).
Wednesday, September 28, at 5:30pm.
35 Victoria Street.