Final Frames and Opening

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Wednesday 26 June 2013
Jennifer French

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Bill Culbert Level (2013). Photograph by Jennifer French

Day three and a late start for my photography due to filming taking place in the venue in the morning. A soundtrack needs to be laid down, and they don’t need any interruptions. The weather has improved a little with some sun, but it’s still freezing. In the afternoon I reshoot everything I got wrong the days before. I continue to shoot Level, 2013 the set of glass bottles that line the door next to the canal, in an attempt to catch the inverted images of boats passing below them. Level takes a lot of time, as it is open to the canal, and faces the Carabinieri’s jetty on the other side. There is a lot of coming and going by the policemen over there, and they seem to like to get their boats in shot. Later, in the evening I finally get HUT, Made in Christchurch, 2012, the wardrobes and Where are the other two?, 2013. Finally, I have some finished images to pass by Justin and Bill for approval – but still not everything. The installation is complete and the install team are relaxed for the first time. I can now send some low-res ‘teaser’ images out to the international press.

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Bill Culbert, Walk Reflection (2001/2013) and Walk Blue (2001/2013). Photograph by Jennifer French

My day four was an official day off for everyone. There’s a flurry of rendezvous on Fondamenta Nuove at the boat stop at 11.10am for the 11.25am #13 vaporetto. We’re on an expedition to a rustic restaurant on an island half an hour’s boat ride away. There we have lunch in the sunshine in an idyllic calm to celebrate the completion of the installation. It was the first warm day since we’d arrived and a chance to recharge. And, unbelievably, the first time we’ve all sat down together. It provides some calm before the storm of the press previews and the vernissage later in the week.

Monday and Tuesday 27 and 28 May merge into one, yet manage to feel three weeks long to me. There are so many things to do. I re-shoot, output and re-output images, doing prepress as I go, have them approved. Resized. Backed up. Begin uploading to media site. Rework, re-shoot, resize, re-approve. Upload. Half upload. Slowly upload . . . It’s getting tight, my deadline approaches. I sat down at my laptop at 7.30am, and was sent home when the venue was locked at 9pm, as we all had to come back for the blessing of the venue the next day at 6.00am. I walk the half an hour home with the laptop, and continue to upload the images from there. Monday tips over the edge into Tuesday. Then suddenly – it’s done.

Next it’s the vernissage, the opening event, and for me, starting the new photography for the catalogue.

A big thanks to CNZ and all at Auckland Art Gallery who supported my work for the New Zealand project Bill Culbert – Front Door Out Back at the 55th Venice Biennale, especially my manager Catherine Lomas and colleague John McIver.