David Broker
Director of Research,
Office of Moribund Collections,
Office of Cataclysmic Tourism
Office of Public Erections

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Office of Moribund Collections

This series of brief reports looks at art galleries and museums or art museums housing dubious collections of objects and art works. The research project will also bring public attention to some of the world's most horrendous and inappropriate public "art". Initially the reports will cover Australia and New Zealand where thriving tourist industries have nurtured the growth of "secondary attractions" some of which are arguably more interesting than "primary attractions". The 'secondary' or 'b-grade' attraction is noted for its lack of professionalism, sloppy display, pathos, the poor condition of its objects, the insignificance of its objects and of course, the misguided enthusiasm of its "curators". The role played by institutions such as these is to assure us of what is not art and introduce the tourist to a plethora of priceless objects of little or (in a best case scenario) no value.

The Outdoor Sculpture Park, near Kaikoura, New Zealand

This is the ultimate in democratic public art. Environmental artworks are created by the public in an expanse of rocks fronting a particularly rough patch of ocean. Although it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between art and nature, it is clear that many of the art works are such that they could not have been created by natural forces alone. Here a pile of rocks or a swastika imitate high art while flirting courageously with the infinite and the immeasurable. Like Caspar David Friedrich these artists have discovered "tragedy in the landscape".

Office of Public Erections

The Statue of Donald Duck, foreshore, Picton, Queen Charlotte Sound, New Zealand
A lost-structural review of Picton's decaying statue of Donald Duck which exemplifies man's struggle against nature. A struggle that this sculpture would have you believe that man has lost. The spectacular scenery upon which the duck has turned its back highlights an enduring fear of that which cannot be tamed. To fully understand this extraordinary work we must view the protagonist within the context of a duck who has turned its back on the water and thus nature itself. A duck with human pretensions, created by humans for humans. A duck stripped of its "duckness". This astonishing statue is also an excellent example of enduring post colonial insensitivity to the land and its original inhabitants. WARNING: Each article will be illustrated with images that may cause convulsions in discerning readers...

Hell's Gate/Tikitere, Rotorua, Aotearoa/New Zealand

The publicity brochure describes Hell's Gate/Tikitere as "the beast !" "...You walk past steaming fumeroles and pools of boiling mud so violent they are unnerving ... you will see unearthly vistas." You certainly will. The most unearthly vista, however, is not geothermal. It is what appears to be the face of a Maori warrior that one encounters on the walk to the active volcanic crater. This was once an area where warriors returning from battle bathed to salve their wounds and today tourists and locals continue to take the curative waters for a fairly substantial fee...

Office of Cataclysmic Tourism, Marketing Division

The Department of Cataclysmic Tourism will provide up to date accounts of tourist attractions based on disasters of catastrophic proportions. The spectre of death hovers over these attractions and importantly, they would not be attractions without considerable loss of life. This section deals with a type of nostalgia for times that no one in their right mind would want to relive. And yet there are popular virtual experiences which enable the tourist to participate vicariously in the horrors of both natural and man made catastrophes.

Napier, New Zealand

Following a devastating earthquake in 1931 the city of Napier was rebuilt. What the earthquake didn't destroy, fire took care of. For 60 years the Napier stagnated and by the 1990s the rebuilt city was largely intact. It appears that also around this time the locals woke from a deep sleep and it occurred to them that they lived in an almost entirely art deco environment. Thus began the preservation of a strange, beautiful and isolated treasure. Napier is exemplary of a city where the remembrance of things past is closely tied to an apocalyptic event in which many lives were lost, structures and infrastructures destroyed, the harbour vanished, the city raised and chaos ensued. Today tourists can experience the intensity of the earthquake in the museum's earthquake room and hear accounts from the people who were (really) there. One can then wander through the deco wonderland immersing oneself in a potent atmosphere of cataclysmic nostalgia.