Daken – Garage Sale with Lucky Dips @ Absolution

Kiwis love a good garage sale. Maybe it is the curiosity. Maybe it is the potential nostalgia. Maybe it is the chance to rifle through someone’s discarded belongings in the hope of finding a unique treasure. Maybe we just love the thought of a bargain that cuts out the middle man.

Ōtautahi creative Daken, known for his bootleg toys and funky, humorous illustrative style, is drawing on the power of garage sales to inspire his forthcoming show Garage Sale with Lucky Dips, opening May 13th at Absolution. Daken describes the show as an exhibition of nostalgia, Kiwiana, trash and treasures, all presented through the lens of a good old fashioned garage sale. We caught up with Daken ahead of the show to find out what we can expect and how the idea came to fruition…

I know you are always busy making, creating and generally tinkering, but when was your last solo show?
I had my first solo show way back in 2021, on my birthday actually, which was pretty exciting. That show was almost exclusively a bootleg toy show (with the exception of a couple paintings). I had only been in the toy-making scene for a year at that stage so I wanted to really push what I was doing in that space. I feel like Garage Sale is more integrated with everything else I do, coming together for a more varied experience.

How did the idea for Garage Sale come to you? I know you have an Instagram profile that focusses on handmade garage sale signs…
Absolution asked if I woukld like to have a show there (shout out to Rochelle!). I always have show concepts and ideas popping up in my head. The Garage Sale idea had been fermenting for a wee while, and given the opportunity at Absolution, it felt right. I do indeed run an Instagram profile that posts pictures of garage sale signs, I started it back in 2019. Garage sales have always had a special place in my heart. Having a background in graffiti, the idea of guerrilla marketing through a kind of typographic graffiti folk art really interested me. No one sign is the same, they are always made with random materials, and the focus is to just get the message across: ‘Come here, on this date, to look through my old crap and give me cash for it.’ I felt at the time that I needed to document them because, like graffiti, they are such a temporary thing. The Instagram page (@garagesails) was a big seed that helped lead to this show.

What can we expect to find at Garage Sale with Lucky Dips?
A Lot of trash, treasure and nostalgia, haha! The show started with the idea of garage sales but slowly evolved into sub genres of nostalgia and identity through the lens of Kiwiana. So, you can expect to see all of these ideas drawn on paper, painted on items, displayed on thrifted clothes, made into toys from other recycled and broken toys and much more…

It sounds like Garage Sale will reflect your diverse practice…
I like to think of myself as a jack-of all-trades, master-of-none when it comes to my work. Jumping between materials, mediums and ideas has always been my thing. I use the name Daken’s Emporium because I can’t seem to stick to one thing. The idea of emporiums and garage sales seems to fit the way my work in general is very eclectic in nature. I get an odd feeling, dare I say a sense of magic, when there is a culmination of things that come together to make a bigger narrative. I love how everything has its own history, has a story of when it was made and how it came to be in some place with other things that can be so different, somehow all winding up in the same place… Did I just describe the human experience?! One of the biggest challenges that kicks at the anxieties in the back of my head is it all not working. I look at my contemporaries and other artists and wish that I could pick something and stick with it. But the truth is, trying new things is always fun and exciting for me. So defining my own personal style and voice within so many avenues of work, while challenging, is in the end, who I am.

Do you have final message for people who might want to come and see Garage Sale?
For those that intend on coming to the show, have a fun time! I hope I have managed to capture at least a small fraction of that magic I talked about, even for a short period before it’s all separated and taken down, just like a garage sale sign. Also, come say what’s up! I would love to chat about the work, hear your thoughts, and discuss who you think would win in a fight between Swamp Thing and Superman! Oh, and don’t forget to pick up a lucky dip!

Daken’s Garage Sale with Lucky Dips opens on Monday 13th May, 6pm – 8pm, at Absolution Tattoo and Piercing, The Arts Centre – Te Matatiki Toi Ora

Author: Reuben Woods

Reuben is an art historian, writer and curator. His PhD thesis explored graffiti and street art within post-earthquake Christchurch. He also serves as creative director and lead tour guide for Watch This Space.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *