People’s day and a time for bargains for local readers of whom there seem to be tens of thousands streaming through the halls, bringing trolley bags to cart away the discards of exhausted publishers eager to offload and go home. The success or otherwise of the fair depends on who you talk to. One English old timer reckons it has been a bit quiet this year and … er, didn’t really notice the guest of honour. For the NZ publishers it was flat or good. NZSA authors seem to have done well with translation rights and agents contacts.
The group winners of NZ’s ‘While You Were Sleeping’ are clearly Maori and cooks. What the medium and long term effect will be for NZ lit remains to be seen. One of our publishers said that a one off hit like this won’t work with German publishers who are looking for long term relationships . A local German author said that the problem with the guest of honour format is that on Sunday you are flavour of the year and come Monday you are out with the empty cartons and the next kid on the block (Brazil) is already skating. So will there be effective follow-ups? There is talk of such on the one hand but on the other, embassy staff in Berlin is being slashed by 30-50 per cent . The concept of cultural diplomacy doesn’t sit easily with the current government but shifting product always will.
Finally had space today to visit a couple of galleries . The architecture of the Museum of Modern Art out dazzles any of its current exhibits, a marvel. Some doozy photography but the best item by far was the three screen video ‘Operation Blackbird’ , our Alex Monteith ‘s three camera trip with an RNZAF helicopter flight around the Nelson Lakes area – mesmerising, gripping, dark edgy. Her motorbikes on Muriwai video was also one of the best things about the exhibition of NZ art at the Kunstlerverein. But too much of our art shown over here runs along the well worn, increasingly banal route of bleeding over colonial exploitation. It is boring, usually bad art and just panders to European guilt complexes.
Taking a break now. Raining and chilly in Frankfurt. 30 degrees forecast for Crete tomorrow!