Sunday, 20 March 2011

Obscure / Erase

James R Ford & Adrian Gebers
Wellington (NZ), March/April 2011

This is the last project with the box in New Zealand and the last act from me as curator of the box. The work could be seen as an extension of my practice and a portable surface/sculptural space for the scribble fields. In the tradition of these works the sub title could be "Black scribble filling a series of metal rectangles".

The scribbles will act like a barrier, obscuring the metallic surface of the box. Can scribbling be seen as productive? Time is given to the act, and with the artist’s touch, but the result is one of defacement. Does the box gain from this addition or is it vandalism to the homogenous appearance of the box, in relation to its partners around the globe?

In a few weeks the box will be over to its next curator, Adrian Gebers, in Sydney, Australia. Adrian's first task will be to complete my work by rubbing away my scribbles, leaving an "Erased De Kooning" legacy. This particular Traveller's Box will then always be a collaborative artwork by Ford and Gebers, be it as an invisible presence.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Casa Ajena

Gaby Montejo
Christchurch, June-July 2010

Under the control of her Christchurch procurer, Boxy Travéla was offered out for 21 days to 21 different artists who had their way with her overnight. Personal encounters ensued (of a non-objective kind); as can be viewed here:

Montejo eventually conceded to live vicariously through the eyes of Travéla- the windows into the private worlds that Boxy touched during each invasion. "This whole thing ended up being more about them" said Montejo "It was like a wake up call. I realised I can see faces now where before they were all just Johns to me". There has been no report as to her allegiance... but oh the stories.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Portable, Subtropical

Jeremy Booth
Wellington, April-May 2010

Reading and the thinking about the Box project, I was immediately interested, sceptical, as to the level of possible socio-cultural implication and investigation that the box was seeking to engage. Irrespective of an artist’s project, and in which country it might take place, I wondered how this Box — this void — might begin to engage complex intertwining notions of social and cultural fabric when its fleeting itinerary resembled more the tourist than the insider. But then — as the transitory, the assimilatory, spring-boards off the fixed as its defining element — I began to see that the Box itself was only a formality; that the space within it was where these conversations would begin, and indeed were already taking place.

My project posed a challenge to the Box: that the space within it might engage a sense of place through its basic premise of volume; that it might truly experience the New Zealand cultural landscape by becoming part of it; by doing the hard-yards and getting its hand dirty, as it were. For two months, the Box supported a small subtropical forest of native Nikau palms, typical of what the local ecology might support, while also token to the New Zealand identity as one of the more picturesque and easily digested elements of the proverbial Bush. The extent to which the forest would thrive would be a measure as to the Box’s ability to become acquainted and integrated with its environment. But more widely, the project looked to assume and implicate the dynamics of contemporary New Zealand ecology as a malleable, void space; a metaphorical framework for considering and putting into motion post-national ideas of social and cultural makeup.

The forest was shifted between numerous domestic, public, indoor and outdoor locations, spending time also in transit.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Travellers Box Server

Daniel Shaw
Wellington, March 2010

My practice is heavily sample and software-based, and the internet is a primary source of material for my work.

I was interested in utilising the inherently mobile nature of the Travelling Box as a tactical position against current shifts toward a heavily regulated internet (in NZ specifically, Section 92a:, and ACTA:

My project for the Travellers Box invoked it as a mobile web server during the second week of March, 2010. This became a paranoia-tinged space for me to develop a project, titled dubdubdub, using illegally downloaded content as source material (a file-shared copy of Gus van Sant's 1998 Psycho re-make of Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 film of the same name). At the end of each development session the web-server was relocated to a safe zone within walking distance of my home.

Materials (in addition to the Travellers Box): Computer, wireless broadband, custom electronics, open-source software, rope, vinyl, fabric.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Julian McKinnon interviews the Travellers Box

Julian McKinnon
Wellington, February 2010

Recently I met James R Ford, the New Zealand curator for the international traveller’s box project. We discussed the possibility of an interview, and reached agreement. I felt excited by the prospect of interviewing the New Zealand representative of an international art-project. I’m a practicing artist and an occasional art-writer. In the latter capacity this was easily my biggest assignment, and the first time I’d managed to land a writing gig on an international project. I prepared adequately and did my research to ensure I had the goods and didn’t come across as an amateur hack. I was delighted that the Travellers box was sent to my Wellington studio for the interview.

JM: Well, to start with let me just say what a pleasure it is to have you in New Zealand, and more specifically actually visiting my studio. I’m very pleased, so thank you and welcome.


JM: So, you’re here in New Zealand engaging with the local arts community as part of a broader international project. Can you tell us a little about how you’ve found the experience so far?


JM: Let me be more specific. Have you found the New Zealand arts community and local artists interested in your presence in New Zealand, and the nature of the traveller’s box project?


JM: Ok, moving on from the local arts community. Perhaps you could enlighten our readers about the nature of the project in its international scope?


JM: (mutters: “hmm, awkward silence”) I have to say I’m somewhat taken aback by your steely irresponsiveness; do you always start interviews this way?


JM: Alright, never mind that. Starting in Denmark the project has been around since 2004. In that time dozens of artists from around the globe have participated in all manner of projects, utilising or incorporating the travellers box, that’s you, in their practice or specific art works. The works have covered pretty much every aspect of contemporary art. Can you explain how it is that you’ve managed to be applicable and relevant to such a wide range of projects and approaches? Is it that in your inherant functionality there is an underlying practical usefulness that allows you to blend in with virtually any artists practice?


JM: Ok, no thoughts from you on that, but I think this needs to be explored a little further. According to your official website “Artists who receive The Travellers Box are encouraged (but not limited) to work with issues concerning socio-cultural relations as well as related issues within the artistic community itself. The works can be based on an interpretation of the cultural divide in attitudes, habits, lifestyles, places, spaces, or by private individual’s complexity. Within those realms, politically-oriented, perhaps sensitive issues can be taken on, examined, considered and incorporated into the artistic process.” Can you tell us, in your own words, how you think this project and perhaps art in general, can be used to effectively generate a meaningful and progressive dialogue around these very issues?


JM: (mutters: “Shit. This is going really badly”). Very well, perhaps you’d like to share your thoughts on the nature of contemporary art, and how you see your role within it?


JM: Look, I don’t mean to be rude, but you’re not making this particularly straightforward. Just sitting there, silent and inanimate, won’t enlighten our readers as to your aims intentions and accomplishments at all. Perhaps you could just share an anecdote from your many travels?


JM: Can I ask, do you think that stonewalling interviewers is the height of sophistication, or is it that you feel so accomplished that you just don’t think it’s necessary to respond?


JM: (mutters: “…unprofessional Julian. You don’t say things like that in an interview”) Sorry. That was entirely inappropriate. Please just go ahead and make any comment at all that you’d like to our readers.


JM: Ok I don’t see how this is going to work. If you’re not going to say anything, I’m going to have to terminate this interview.


Monday, 18 January 2010

Studio 1

Justin Jade Morgan
New Plymouth, Auckland and Wellington, January 2010

This project is about the tools used within my practice. Often we as viewers or makers of an object tend to address the presented piece and the processes that are driving the overall intent of the work. But how often do we think about the tools that the artist/maker has used to construct?

By unpacking my current practice and diving further into my studio; I intend to address and open up questions around the relationship between my tools, their function and their value. This project currently has several components on show at the Govett Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth, the Sanderson Contemporary Art Gallery, Auckland and in the ‘Beats’ video fest in Nova Gorica, Slovenia.

My intention is to introduce the box as a carry box to hold and transport items to and from each gallery space as I go about de-installing the first suite of New Zealand shows (this process will be documented in accordance with the project). This will mean that the box will not only make a trip from Wellington to New Plymouth to Auckland and then back to Wellington just as I the artist does – But it will also have the chance to be connected to the gallery spaces mentioned above, thus inserting the box not only as a tool but also as an art object within an exhibition space and project context.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Toy Box

James R Ford
Wellington (NZ), December 2009

For this project the Travellers Box adopted the function of a toy box, an integration of art and daily life. Ford uses the unseen presence of his 8 month old daughter, Mollie, in this work to imply the vulnerability and complete dependence of humans in early life.

For 3 weeks in December 2009 a selection of Mollie’s toys were stored in the Travellers Box. The toys were removed, swapped around and replaced ad hoc whenever Mollie was in the mood for playing. The box was used in the same fashion as a normal toy box, moving from room to room as required, and documented at various intervals over the duration of the intervention.

Immediately a dichotomy is established: Mollie’s colourful, safe and mainly soft toys are being held captive in an ugly, hard, sharp metallic vessel. The edges are dangerous so Mollie cannot be left alone with it. The viewer can envision Mollie banging her head and hurting herself on the box while innocently attempting to grab her toys.

Instead of being anxious about the multitude of possible things Mollie could hurt herself on, and trying to baby proof every eventuality, the artist is placing an actual danger in her reach.

Below is a video recording of the box reciting a nursery rhyme via a toy within. A strange combination of clinically cold box and imprisoned, happy singing voice.