Printed matter played a decisive role in Julian Dashper’s practice from the very beginning. Some of his earliest exhibitions were accompanied by slim catalogues, elegantly designed and printed on expensive stock. The catalogue, the accompanying essay, or the attached interview acted as material signifiers—some of the pieces Dashper placed in careful position to produce an image of the successful contemporary artist, a figure he simultaneously lampooned and aspired towards.
Dashper had a keen understanding of the way print mediated the experience of New Zealand audiences in the 1980s and 1990s as a portal to the international art world. His ‘exhibitions’ in the pages of Artforum International in 1992 and 1993 show a desire to intervene in this traditionally one-way exchange of information and culture, turning an interior gaze back outwards, and vice versa. But these are only one example of a consistent engagement with published writing as an extension of Dashper’s artistic practice, producing a body of printed material that both consciously acceded to the expectations of the contemporary art world and distorted them into knowing reflections.
Alongside 1984–1987, Michael Lett has compiled a collection of printed matter produced by, for, and about Julian Dashper. This selection ranges from self-published essays, to page works, and posthumous exhibition catalogues, and includes rare and unique publications.
“Given this contemporary conviction that we are on the brink of being able to explain literally everything, where can art hide? It is perhaps inevitable that an artist like Julian Dashper, who knows the power of his work comes from ambiguity rather than explanation, might try to secrete what he means in disparate places.” — Mary Barr & Jim Barr, ‘T = .0001 (10⁻⁴) … and counting’, The Big Bang Theory, 1993
“But when it comes to New Zealand art history Rita Angus did still mean a whole bunch to me, and not only that — when, after dessert, I climbed the stairs at Christchurch Art Gallery to see Cass again in the flesh I was suddenly struck, as if for the first time, by the small blank-faced figure patiently sitting at the railway station in this painting. Who was this person?” — Julian Dashper, ‘For Captain Cook’, To the Unknown New Zealander, 2007
“Reproduction comes first, art second. The slide, at least notionally, precedes the painting, it is in a sense anterior to the art it purports to record. The painting exists only in as much as it anticipates the slides to come.” — Francis Pound, ‘Dashper & Distance’, Julian Dashper, 1991
“85. This morning my 4 year old son Leo said when he woke up that he was a baby pony called Donald Judd. Later on this morning he said that he was still a baby pony but his new name was now Palace.” — Julian Dashper, Julian Dashper, 2000