Year: 2015

The Popular Recreator at Starkwhite

Hand vs. Machine Fiona Pardington’s The Popular Recreator at Starkwhite is made up of 12 white dinner plates hanging on one wall, along with 6 cups and a saucer. Each piece of ceramic has been adorned with an image in a selection of muted colours, which Starkwhite refers to as a suite of photographs. I think the images could be more accurately described as prints of historic engravings, even though they may well have been transferred using a photographic process. Pardington has salvaged old images and objects before in previous work, such as with the medical textbooks of Tainted Love, and the cast portraits of Ahua. With The Popular Recreator, one of Pardington’s key concerns is our loss of skill in the face of modern technology. Of course she is no stranger to the digital – her wonderful still life photographs ooze a mysterious energy oscillating between reality and artificiality. The images used for the current show, however, are all decidedly analogue: single-colour engraved illustrations taken from the 19th century encyclopedia The Popular Recreator: A …

what has anyone to worry about i cry alone at FUZZYVIBES

At the entrance to FUZZYVIBES some severed angel wings hang above the stairs. There’s a tragedy in an angel without wings, a loss of purity and innocence where the angel becomes just a human. And like Icarus, the Greek god who flew too close to the sun and fell to his tragic ironic death, the wings perhaps point to the consequence of individual over-ambition or this case a lack thereof.   Down the stairs however reveals something entirely different. Here, only natural light floods the space and I am immediately reminded of medieval monks who sit by giant stain glass windows in low light, writing in some ancient gothic script. Perhaps there is a reason for this faint reminder. Surrounding the space is Jessie Howlit’s painted gothic text. It reads “As this circle of light surrounds their image, so shall their heart. As this fragrant incense burns with fire their love grants, as these twelve candles burn, as love is given, so it will return.” After a quick internet search I discover it is actually a …

A Necessary Distance

Traffic had routinely backed up along Tamaki Drive. Single passenger cars hugged the distant bays, a winding conveyer belt of middle class life. I felt optimistic because of the icy blue harbour and Rangitoto Island. I thought it was perhaps one of my last chances to absorb the view. And even so, it didn’t look any different; I only saw the backdrop of our daily commute. Perhaps for my mum, this view looked like the vast space between familiarity and possibility. As we turned onto Kepa Road, I switched radio stations so we could dance in our seats, her fists still firmly gripped at 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock. She always tells me that she wishes she had become a dancer. In a week she’ll be driving alone and in this same week I will be getting lost on the New York subway, missing the convenience and security of this car. The monotony of these commutes always reminds me of the novel Fierce Attachments by Vivian Gornick. It is a book I renewed twice and …

Urban Foraging

I’ve been walking a lot lately. Since university finished, I’ve joined the tribe delivering spam direct to your mailbox. I live in fear of being busted by an acquaintance. This could be because I feel guilty contributing to a world of wasted resources and landfill, but mostly I think its because I feel everyone I meet on the street despises the whole enterprise, and me along with it. In suburbia I am now a second-class citizen. But there are some upsides besides the exercise, especially for an artist. One is that doing repetitive mundane physical action allows the mind to wander, the other is that you notice things. I think I know a suburb, but covering every inch of both sides of every street and cul-de-sac, takes me to spots I’ve never been before. Being on foot with no distractions allows the luxury of time to register intriguing objects and unexpected vistas. Last week, collapsed in a comfy chair after four hours walking, I came across a Tate Talks podcast of a philosopher called Frederic …

Ex Rodeo Star at Wallace Gallery Morrinsville

How to make paint, that despised of mediums among the cognoscenti, look fresh, relevant and contemporary, the match for digital, performance, video and such other hip-like genres, modes and methods? Go no further than Phillip Mcilhagga and his recent exhibition at the Wallace Gallery, Morrinsville. Called, Ex Rodeo Star, this cowboy takes a wild ride into the Badlands of Street Art and mixes it up with flurries and footnotes of abstract notation. Reloading his spray cans and strapped on his oil-sticks, this dude has face-downed the dark voids in the form of huge drop-sheets of black builders paper, beating to the draw the spectre of nothingness brooding like a cloud over every cowpoke’s outstretched vista of creative visualization. Looking at the work, one can say that, yes, he has roped and hogtied the varmint. The works, which number 16 in total, completely engulf the gallery space in the same way Christine Webster’s Black Carnival did. From floor to ceiling in height and butted hard up against each other, the array of loose hanging McCahon size …

Santisima Virgen de las Barrikadas |Te Takakau tapu o Barricades | Blessed Virgin of the Barricades

Oracion – Prayer – Te Karakia (1) You, who were born on the street amid subversive graffiti, keep alive the flame of rebellion We whose multi-coloured spray made the miracle of your Incarnation You, who stand on an old tyre, crush the demons of capitalist domination Artist, eco-architect and champion of the people’s media – the poster, Xavier de la Cueva Meade lives in the hills of Whaingaroa-Raglan with his partner, Carolyna Hart. His motherland is Mexico. You actually cannot take Mexico outta the boy. The spirit of Emiliano Zapata is his guardian angel and Santisima Virgen de las Barrikadas is always interceding on his behalf to the heart of indigenous Mexico. Meade is an artist suspicious of America and the many manifestations of colonial powers and multi-national corporations, or ‘demonic’ capitalism. In 2003-4, I had the honour of teaching in the studio next to Meade, Xavier de la Cueva Meade at the School of Media Arts in the Drawing and Design faculty. Slowly learning about the depth of conviction he had for the indigenous …

I’ve only read the book

Art relies on time and wrestles with it in the same breathe. Unstuck in Time was a reaction to the Reeves Road flyover that was scheduled to begin construction in 2015, resulting in the temporary closure of Te Tuhi. Looking to continue the gallery programme throughout the closure Te Tuhi curator Bruce Phillips then commissioned a number of offsite projects. With the delay and eventual cancellation of the construction project, Bruce was then charged with additional programming inside Te Tuhi itself. I never saw any of Unstuck in Time. I’ve only read the book. When I saw Wunderūmma at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, I was instantly attracted to a moment. A blue and white tablecloth roughly attached to the gallery wall by Simon Denny sat beneath a landscape painting by Teuane Tibbo (the first Samoan painter to exhibit in a dealer gallery). The pairing was a conceptual revelation. The slacker styling of Denny, and the ‘naïve’ instincts of Tibbo formed a dynamic relationship between two unlikely companions. The impact upon me was immediate, …

Disneyland

It’s a bit full on being in a city who’s modern economy is almost solely built on tourism. The first description of Venice I’d heard from an Italian was in conversation with a student in Bologna, she simply described it as ‘Disneyland’. I took this as a reference to the reduced spectacle, the disposable, factory-made entertainment set out for people who have the money. This sentiment hung around as I experienced my first (and realistically, only) Venice Biennale. The Biennale is broken into three sections. It began as one: The ‘Giardini’, which is the most historic, generally seen as the most important area of pavilions, and was where the Biennale began. The other two sections have been subsequently added over the years. There is the ‘Arsenale’ which is sort of the B team, another ticketed area, and then there are other participating countries strewn about the place in different venues that you can see, generally for free. The Giardini has all the big players; Germany, the States, the UK, France etc. Now, I didn’t expect …

Inside Outside Upside Down at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki

Inside Outside Upside Down brings together the work of five New Zealand contemporary artists – Kate Newby, Simon Denny, Ruth Buchanan, Fiona Connor and Ronnie van Hout. Housed on the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki’s first floor, the exhibition is made up of work from the gallery’s own collection. Connecting the works is a shared appreciation for the everyday, a conflation of ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ within the confines of a gallery. The exhibition is arranged as a series of five rooms, each dedicated to one of the aforementioned artists. The first room belongs to Ronnie van Hout’s No Exit II (2003), a strange space of sights and sounds. Van Hout’s work explores the boundaries of interior space, applying the simple inversion of bringing the outside in or the inside out. A small video monitor flickers within the hollows of a van Hout tree trunk, the artist repeatedly fights and argues in a room with his alter egos – Monkey Man and Dog Man. The indication of multiple personalities links to the artist’s focus upon …