Month: May 2015

Homewardbounder at Enjoy Gallery

To the uninitiated, the cavernous entrances to the ‘adits’ depicted in Caroline McQuarrie’s Homewardbounder look like hellish pathways into a dark abyss. Actually, after some contemplation and a little contextual reading courtesy of the exhibition catalogue, they are no less so. Adits are horizontal mineshafts. McQuarrie’s series of seven (exhibited at Enjoy Gallery during April) are part of her larger ongoing project, No Town, a series which documents the ruins and remnants of West Coast gold-mining towns of the mid to late nineteenth century. Those works depict a range of former mining town sites (including Waiuta, Big River, Lyell, Zalatown, and the brilliantly named Notown). Some sites still have objects or structures to indicate that a town was once there; some don’t. Many mining towns rose up and faded away in a few years. But there are, of course, more direct and physical traces left on the landscape, as is apparent in Homewardbounder. We could read these works as part of the photographic tradition that explores the cultural legacy of land use and the requirement …

Daphne Simons at Casbah Gallery

Performance Art began with the Dadaist, continued with Fluxus and never looked back. The New Zealand chapter in this tradition is a little thin on the ground but some famous examples stand out, like Mark Harvey and Jim Allen. Hamilton artist, Daphne Simons has added to this tradition recently with a marathon type performance called, Programme, which played itself out over several hours at the Casbah extension gallery, in Ward Street, Hamilton. The title of the work refers to the world of television, and Simons’ performance saw one medium take on another where things were brought to a climatic end at the end in good theatrical fashion. Five old television monitors were suspended by ropes from high wooden purpose-built trolleys which from mid-afternoon each began playing five different old movies. The date of each movie corresponded to the date the TV set had been manufactured, soLord of the Rings was playing on a Sanyo, 2002 model, Harry Potter played on a Transonic from the year 2005 and so on. When the movies finished playing, a trailer with a large …

The Promised Land at Queensland Gallery of Modern Art

Promises, promises.   Michael Parekowhai’s survey exhibition The Promised Land displays a finely tuned and impressive resume of artworks.  Parekowhai’s penchant for casting and repetition speaks of multiplicity – political, quantitative and accumulative. The piece I am drawn to, Memory Palace (2015) is a replica of a 1930s Art Deco style Mt Eden state house.   I think all that noise about the Queens Wharf proposed public artwork Lighthouse in 2014 must’ve blown over, because here it is, Parekowhai’s opus Dei.   The exterior perfectly encapsulates the well-known state house aesthetic.  The model state house, a New Zealand relic, has in-built ramps on either side of the house, a concrete base and a weatherboard veneer. The interior of Memory Palace is littered with miniature Kapa Haka security guard maquettes that act like little hovering flies on the wall, watching over the occupants and the interests of the colonial.  The giant proportioned The English Channel (2015) depicts a stainless steel James Cook, poised and casually sitting in the centre of the room.  “Is it James Cook?” …

Walls as symbolic erections of power

Justice is indivisible, and injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Martin Luther King Jr. From one of the most fanciest streets of London where people roam among an imperialist consume, on the top of one of these extravagant fashion stores, we were invited to visit the premiere UK solo exhibition of the Palestinian artist Khaled Jarrar at Ayyam Gallery, where he critically unveiled us the everyday life in the occupied Palestinian’s territories (OPTs). There are no doubts that the continuous measures applied by Israel’s policies to the Palestinian people are a crime and in a complete violation of international law. The exhibition  Whole in the Wall, not only disclosed the impact of the Apartheid Wall in the peoples’ quotidian, but also is a stark reminder of the on-going exposure to segregation, discrimination and oppression that the State of Israel deliberately keeps subjecting the Palestinian people. The Apartheid Wall or Separation Wall, as the Israelis prefer to call, started to be built in the West Bank in 2002 and was justified by “security concerns”. …

Uku Rere: Nga Kaihanga Uku and Beyond

Nearly three decades after the National Māori clay workers association was established, Uku Rere: Nga Kaihanga Uku and Beyond is the first major survey of contemporary Māori ceramicists. The room is almost empty of human life, yet through the art of Uku it breathes an essence of energy that swirls around the room. My gaze rests on each work of art. I imagine the artists’ hands as they take a cold lump of Mother Earth and mold it. Breathing life into it with their warmth, allowing its intention to take shape. As it warms it becomes pliable and the chemistry between artist and clay weave their magic. Many of the pieces displayed, are held in private collections scattered around New Zealand and were kindly donated by proud owners. One piece that stood out for me was by Manos Nathan of Nga Puhi and Ngati Whatua descent. Sitting on the table is a round cylindrical piece, the size of a large fruit bowl but entirely enclosed. It’s blue-black in colour with white planets, stars, and the moon in the …

The Artist and the Emperor

“Art writers are among the least interesting people I’ve ever met” Some things are just expected of us. For instance, if you happen to be an Auckland-based art writer, then forming an opinion of Billy Apple’s The Artist Has To Live Like Everyone Else is among the expected duties. It’s not as bad as it sounds. If you call the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki and let them know your coming, the media liaison will offer to meet you at the door. Still, no one likes that looming feeling of something your meant to do. In the week leading up to the exhibition, a slue of articles, interviews, and press releases commended the Artist’s practice, a timely reminder of why we ought to care. The New Zealand media tended to highlight Billy Apple’s association with David Hockney and Andy Warhol (Kiwi’s are always worried about being relevant on the world stage). It’s an old colonial neurosis, and the regularity with which it was mentioned was telling. I got the impression that Billy had done …

SOS Blak Australia

In Narrm Melbourne, in Kulin Nation lands and waters, we are used to protesting injustice and being the loudest voice in Australia. Around 8,000 at a conservative estimate attended the sit-in protest, more cleansing ceremony than an angry mob taking over the city. Despite what the conservative media here say, this is a movement towards Aboriginal sovereignty and land rights being recognised and enshrined in a future Treaty. The international support, from all over the world, but particularly all over Aotearoa, continues to build on existing relationships of solidarity and shared struggle for decolonisation and Indigenous rights. The presence of Marama Fox at the most recent protest, carrying with her the Tino Rangatiratanga flag and the tautoko of thousands, brought tears to our eyes and gladdened our hearts. We are in this together. Melbourne based artist Léuli Eshraghi On Friday night I attended my first protest on Queen Street, the protest was against the closure of over 150 remote Aboriginal communities in Australia. Myself along with a couple of fellow artists, who make socially conscious …

On male allies

On male allies in our local art, activist and music scene: As an 18 year old fresh out of high school – one brimming with misogynists, abusers, rapists and the ‘Roastbusters’- encountering men who wore nail polish, had heard of bell hooks, and derided dude bro masculinity was a welcome change. A combination of naivety, loneliness, and a vague sense of optimism meant that I put these men and their social circles on a pedestal that I wished to join. This didn’t happen. Very quickly I realised that these men were no different to the ones I had spent five years trapped in class with. Except,  they had more insidious and sinister ways of concealing their misogyny. This admittedly was a hard blow. I had felt hope and a sense of solidarity, and now distrust, anger and fear. Despite my social circle’s feminist and radical leanings many of us continue to welcome and support these abusive and misogynistic men. Self-described feminist artists/musicians/designers have revealed themselves to be anything but. Still to this day little effort …

Natasha Matila-Smith on dicks: Everybody wants me to work at McDonalds

Part Ten Everybody wants me to work at McDonalds.   So, I moved to Brisbane.  I don’t know how long it will last but here we are.  I have lived here before but this time I’m told I have a month to secure a job or I will officially be a failure at life.  Having recently acquired an illustrious Masters degree from the exceptionally exclusive Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland, I find myself in a difficult position looking for a job.  I am probably too inexperienced to actually pursue a Curator position, yet I have curated and have it listed in my resume.  I could take my resume to McDonalds but looking at my very art directed work experience and education, they will say ‘Why do you want to work at McDonalds?’.  To which I would reply, ‘I don’t.’. I am feeling increasingly pressured, even at age 31, to cold call and drop my resume off to any place that has available employment. If I don’t, I won’t have any fucking money …