RM Gallery and Project Space
Address: Samoa House Lane
Auckland Central 1010, Aotearoa New Zealand
Contact: Shelley Simpson & Ena Kosovac
Open Hours: Thursday, Friday 1-6pm, Saturday 12-4pm
How is the project operated?
RM is an independent artist-run gallery, project space, and archive, providing opportunities for artists and art writers to make new and experimental work and exhibit in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland.
How long has it been in existence?
22 years – RM is the longest running artist-run space in Aotearoa New Zealand.
What was your motivation?
To foster great art. RM was originally established in 1997, by a group of emerging Auckland artists, including RM’s longest-serving member Nick Spratt. Previous incarnations of the RM project have included rm3, rm212, rm401, and rm103. Throughout its time, this artist-run space has always sought to give the opportunity to exhibit and create experimental work to its peers. We aim to work with both emerging and more seasoned artists and writers who we believe have interesting practices or ideas that may or may not be supported within more mainstream local galleries or institutions. In this way, RM aims to fill a gap by offering a space that allows for alternate or experimental ideas, practices, discourses and modes of presentation. Though we currently might look like a white cube, we are more interested in the potentials of an empty room – a space to gather, to think, to talk, to make, to share.
Number of organisers/responsible persons of the project
RM is run by a collective of ten artists, with the support of extra volunteers who help to gallery-mind. The members of the RM collective currently are: Lila Bullen-Smith, Ardit Hoxha, Ena Kosovac, Sarah Mohawk, Deborah Rundle, Mark Schroder, Shelley Simpson, Rebecca Steedman, Hannah Valentine and Vivienne Worn. Our current volunteers are Ducklingmonster and Petra Ludvigson.
How are programs funded?
Our main source of funding is Creative New Zealand. We also hold fundraising events like markets and one-day mystery art sales. As an unpaid team, our volunteer hours are also freely given to keep RM running at its best.
Who is responsible for the programming?
RM has an annual call out for proposals. The collective then decides on the exhibition schedule together from the proposals we receive. Sometimes we join together two or more artists into a single show if we feel their separate practices are sympathetic to each other, or share underlying ideas, concepts or research. This way we can offer the opportunity to exhibit at RM to more people, as well as create thoughtful and experimental shows. At other times, some of the programmed shows have been proposed by a curator from another art space or institution in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Collective members generally work in pairs to liaise with each exhibiting artist (or groups of artists) throughout the year. We also bring forward ideas for events, collaborations and curatorial opportunities to run alongside the exhibition programme, in order to realise the full potential of RM as a site of experimentation and exploration.
Number and average duration of exhibitions/events per year.
RM’s 2018/2019 programme features a series of thirteen exhibitions, usually three-weeks long, with shorter events throughout the calendar year. RM will also host three twelve-week archive residencies (and associated events) in 2019, as well as a summer studio residency for a group of selected artists from outside of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland.
What kind of events are usually organized?
We try to schedule a varied combination of single-artist shows, two-person shows and group exhibitions. We also host events such as poetry readings, dance performances, film screenings, publication launches, and any other experimental, or community driven, events that may be proposed throughout the year.
How is your programming determined?
The RM collective meets weekly to discuss and plan events and exhibitions, to organise and liaise with artists, and to facilitate exhibition openings and events.
Each collective member is equally involved in the decision making process regarding the exhibition schedule, publications, events and other related issues.
Do you accept proposals/submissions?
Yes – we have an annual call out for proposals, but we also accept these throughout the year, in the case of short and one-day events. We try to be flexible and nimble with our schedule, in order to be able to respond to contemporary events if possible, as well as to give people the chance to create and host shorter events that also respond to something immediate.
What is your artistic/curatorial approach?
We develop each year’s programme from submitted proposals. In selecting exhibitions and residency artists we aim to provide a platform that includes a diverse range of practices, emerging artists and those whose work might not be well supported in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. We also support artists we see as contributing interesting and important discussions to contemporary art in Aotearoa New Zealand. We provide an opportunity for artists from throughout the country to participate, offering local connections with both national and international artists. Above all, we aim to facilitate a space of creativity, reflection and critical discussion, and to put together an annual programme of well-articulated, diverse and thoughtful exhibitions.
What’s working? What’s not working?
Our curatorial/programming approach works well (and results in excellent shows!), as does the artist-run nature of RM as an art space – we are able to be critical and experimental in a way that other arts institutions in Aotearoa New Zealand perhaps are not. Also, the artists who exhibit, host events and hold residencies at RM benefit from the long-standing reputation of RM, from the support of the RM collective, and from the broader artistic freedoms associated with exhibiting in a critical and flexible space.
Working towards improvement, this year we are actively developing RM’s website in order to exhibit or host art works and writing online, as well as developing a virtual ground for experimental projects with no physical outcome requiring a gallery space. We have also begun the process of digitising our physical archives, with the aim of allowing this material to be more accessible to artists, writers, volunteers, researchers and the general public.
We are a presently a collective of ten members. This is working well in terms of the variety of skills, perspectives, ideas and time available to run a space such as RM. It also means a larger network from which we can pool our resources to assist the projects and community we are involved in. This has worked well over the past couple of years and we aim to continue with a minimum of ten members.
What kind of role do you hope to play in your local art scene or community?
We hope to offer our fellow artists and writers the opportunity to exhibit and develop projects at a cornerstone artist-run space in Aotearoa New Zealand. We also hope to provide opportunities for local artists, writers and curators to work closely alongside one another, thereby strengthening the local and national art scene and community from a grassroots level. We want to give local communities the opportunity to regularly access and engage with innovative and thoughtful contemporary practices through exhibitions, residencies, events, screenings, talks, and workshops.
What idea are you most excited about for the future?
We are most excited about the upcoming programme for this year while at the same time broadening our reach via the website. We have also initiated a great new Women’s Moving Image grant and project for this year, which we’re really excited about, and we’re looking forward to seeing how the online space for writing, exhibitions and archives impacts the local and international engagement with the space and our community. This year is looking to be a cracker!
Photos courtesy of RM. This profile has been published in partnership with Artist-Run Alliance.