The Frankfurt Book Fair is the holy grail of international publishing. If the saying "Bring a writer to the Frankfurt Book Fair and break their heart" is true, we're about to break the hearts of lots of New Zealand writers. You hear all about what a huge machine the book fair is, we've been pushing the statistics ourselves for a year - more than 110 countries, more than 7,500 trade exhibitors, over 300,000 visitors over 5 days. And here we are on the eve of the Frankfurt Book Fair opening, as Tanea Heke, the Project Director of New Zealand as Guest of Honour, says "to give birth to this baby". This "baby" has been gestating for sixteen months, deals have been brokered between New Zealand and German publishers, a cultural programme has come to life, opportunities for New Zealand writers have opened up all over Europe and upstairs from where I'm sitting right now, a little piece of New Zealand is going to set the scene for the magic that will be New Zealand as Guest of Honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2012.
Alastair Carruthers, Chair of Creative New Zealand and Heather Galbraith, Dean of Visual Arts, Massey, at the opening of Contact.
Photo: Lisa Gardiner
Yesterday, we visited the Kunstverein where 25 New Zealand artists have their work exhibited in Contact: Artists from Aotearoa/ New Zealand. Alistair Carruthers and Haniko Te Kurapa from Creative New Zealand took us on a tour and it was fantastic to see audiences so engaged with the art works. Campbell Patterson's video installation of two people sharing a piece of chewing gum reminded me how something so banal/funny/gross can seem so strangely New Zealand. That's the beauty of this project, lots of different New Zealand voices, perspectives and stories.
Everyday more New Zealand writers, performers and artists are arriving in Frankfurt and it feels like this is really going to happen, this is our moment to shine and (without giving too much away) Inside Out Productions have created a beautiful shining moon in the pavilion to form a spotlight. This is going to be a great week for New Zealand as the world looks our way.