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FORM at Papakura Art Gallery

Pot

Ritual effusion/beauty and sadness

Resistance is beautiful, despair is counter revolutionary. The present struggle between the lovers of trees and the masters of concrete reiterates the political and scientific exclusion of collective voice from the political realm. The other, as its own authority and obscured by specialised logic, becomes both managed and incomprehensible. Women and children venture into the night and uplift surveyor’s pegs. The surveyor is a key to the war machine, the women and children to the Whenua. The mark can be erased but its idea remains at the disposal of the plough. To critique Colonial Imperialism as an ideology feeds back into its own PR. So let’s take those words and drop them in an astringent bath.

Sand in the engine does not erase the car or thwart cities as they become finely latticed containers for remnant life spaces. The artificial embraces nature; if we can build sky ramps why not vases for endangered localities? A nightmarish ornamental gesture? we only lose what we feel is lost.  We navigate and negotiate cities; it is far more real to be overwhelmed by the non-human. The tree, in its temporal grandeur, presents intense clusters of non-human time. The tree accumulates tears and stains like buildings. To stand with Blakean receptiveness amongst trees is to risk the void for the attainment of real mystery. The tree as a finite edifice of cosmic structure carries the imprint of living things and maybe their ghosts. Wind in the leaves is another language again.

We lose each other as we flee into the earth but the earth is meant to remain. These rocks have feelings and roots. The obliteration of a locality, its native system, is perhaps more keenly felt in the cities where our flight is necessarily abstract. As austerity tightens around the green belt and the destructive logic of capitalism ensures new, more indestructible ruins, the microcosm and the edge assume importance. We plant dwarf corn on the berm to ensure the road sign remains in play. We make terrariums and herb gardens while digital flora glistens. Pedestrians become wildlife. The artist’s problem with art becomes secondary to the problem of living.

The earthenware pot, and art, can hold more than dry bones. In film historical terms at least, the relationship between ceramics and ghosts runs deeper than Patrick Swayze. Lady Wakasa’s ghost craves the vibration and embracing qualities of the handcrafted pot. To feel the life she was denied, she chooses a man of low social status whose eyes are wayward and hands are firmly set in the dirt. Her desire for both him and his transport slicked wares emanates from the film.  Her lifeless soul pours from her eyes into the vase in a perilous decanting. The integrity of a pot good enough to hold a ghost depends on the perfect in-breath and the formation of a standing wave between two hands. This bell-like sensitivity is also brittle, and the good pot falls once to the floor.

Sean O’Reilly

Response to the curatorial themes of FORM at Papakura Art Gallery from 24/01/2015  to 7/03/2015

Photo courtesy: Fledgling, Hayley Bridgford, 2014

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