Month: July 2015

Saloua Raouda Choucair at Tate Modern

Out of Lebanon: Saloua Raouda Choucair  “… Listen to this symphony with your eyes as you would listen to a concert with your ears” Georges Cyr, 1952 It’s been more than six decades since Saloua Raouda Choucair, pioneer Lebanese abstract artist, did the first abstract exhibition of the Arab world. Nevertheless, today is the first time that a major museum presents her work in the West. Saloua Raouda Choucair opened its doors at Tate Modern in April and it was open until October of 2013. Lebanon has always been one of the most liberal Arab countries, contaminated by influences from both the East and West. Most Lebanese’s pioneers of modern art went to Europe, namely to London, Paris or Rome, where they attended art school. However, only during the second half of the 20th Century female artists started to flourish in Lebanon. Choucair, born 1916, is one of the most vanguardist woman artists of these first generations. She explored and experimented with new techniques and materials. Her work combines Western abstraction with Islamic aesthetics, simultaneously …

Anthony McCall at Trish Clark Gallery

British artist, Anthony McCall, began his light projections in 1973 during cinematic developments of the 1970s. As an art history student, I have approached contemporary art with a narrow-minded perspective. Light has never appealed to me as an art medium, yet, I found myself intrigued by McCall’s exhibit at Trish Clark Gallery. McCall’s Face to Face IV utilised two projectors in a dark room which casted simple morphed compositions of bright white lines upon suspended screens. The manner in which he used light created an ambient haze, as if the rays were spectral. The swirling line versus the solid line projection emphasised brilliantly beautiful flecks of dust which danced between the light and created an immersive experience. The cavernous room became a part of the work, interacting as a spectator to the projections. Interestingly, although the room was flooded with light the space still remained quite dark, underlining the sculptural solidarity of the projections. Despite light being an immaterial thing, McCall accesses the sculptural quality light can have given the right space and form. Additionally, the viewer had the ability to manipulate the …

Hey, Cutie at Pilot Gallery

Pretty in pink. I didn’t see the movie but I saw the exhibition, Hey, Cutie. Which sort of counts. Three funky girls, Ophelia King, Amy Unkovich and Nina Joy, doing impersonations of Molly Ringwald at Pilot 2 Gallery, Hamilton. Well, not quite. Far more sophisticated, but hey! Cute. First you paint your gallery space pink. Literally. This is a metaphor free zone. And not just any old pink. Three different subtle shades were required and applied lovingly to every moulded surface, architectural edifice, orifice and architrave. The ceiling too. Pink, with evocative names like Tony, Wax Flower and, yes, Romantic. And, yes, dear reader, I married her! Well at least I swooned, metaphorically speaking, as I walked into the space. To add to the tender, loving, amorous and dreamy ambience, long thin delicate grey coloured drapes were hung across the windows and at the rear of the space to mask the crap out the back. What a transformation. What a makeover. A dingy, dirty, empty and vacant commercial shopping space was transmogrified into something sitting several …

WWFD? In Conversation with Fiona Amundsen

WW..D? Is an interview segment where we get to know awesome people that are a part of the creative community in New Zealand. This week we spoke to Fiona Amundsen. Fiona is a New Zealand photographer making work that is influenced by her background in social anthropology. A firm interest in the Asia Pacific region Fiona explores sites of trauma, memorialisation and documentary. Read more for what would Fiona do? I remember you started off 2014 with a residency in Japan at Tokyo Wonder Site, how was it? The residency was incredible because it was very structured but also completely open. When I say structured I mean that you had to apply with a project that related to or reflected on Tokyo in some way.  Once in Tokyo, each person got assigned with a ‘minder’ (mine was called Miwa san) who helped set up meetings that were appropriate to your work.  As a result I met some amazing curators from major museums, which would be hard to achieve on my own.  The residency really looked after me, and Miwa san was really …

Game of Two Halves: Marco Polo International Airport

This is part one of a series that investigates Simon Denny’s Secret Power, the project representing New Zealand at the 56th Venice Biennale. The exhibition addresses the intersection of knowledge and geography in a post-Snowden world, and is split between two sites: the Marco Polo Airport, and the Marciana Library. There is a family of stone goats in Auckland’s Myers Park. I attended the near-by Jewish school and remember seeing goat horns in the Rabbi’s office. To me, the horns appeared like something primeval (they were in-fact Shofar, ceremonial horns to mark the end of Yom Kippur). Because of the Rabbi’s goat horns, I’d assumed the goats in the park were jewish. The goat’s seemed to be an authentic part of the area, and were presumably rich in meaning to Arthur Myers, the jewish philanthropist who gifted the land. While on a recent trip to Europe to see family and ‘big culture’, I spent a few hours in Guangzhou Airport. Waiting for my transfer to Heathrow I noticed a series of murals depicting pre-industrial China, and …

Whole House Reuse at Canterbury Museum

It was a particularly cold February morning in Christchurch when I found myself waiting in a church, bags packed, ready to catch a flight. In the time between my morning coffee and being driven to the airport I had to sit out a friend’s meeting. Tucked into an old armchair, I zoned out and waited. Like the church, the meeting was about breathing life into spaces considered as waste. The church is part home, part arts collective; a repurposed building and on the morning I was there – the meeting site for the start of the Whole House Reuse project’s make-a-thon. Several people had gathered to see what they could craft from offcuts of a deconstructed house scheduled for demolition following the Christchurch earthquakes. I remember the energy that morning. It’s the same energy I felt when I visited the Whole House Reuse exhibition at the Canterbury Museum while I was back in Christchurch earlier this month. Seeing the results of ideas formed several months earlier made me feel alive and kicking in a way that a cup of coffee …

Te Taniwha and the East: Establishing the Malcolm Smith Gallery

Let’s be honest, Howick can be terrifying for a young person of colour. Everything about me is West Auckland, which is a community I feel very comfortable in. I blend in, and anyone would, really. Howick, however, feels like another world. Regardless of diversity, across our supercity is evidence of our council’s love of multi-purpose arts facilities. These hubs of creative activity have mandates to appeal, serve and reflect their local community. Maybe that’s the reason my West Auckland self never ventured to Uxbridge —perhaps I was not the desired audience? Walking into the once Presbyterian Church, turned gallery space and theatre, we are greeted by the black and white analogue photography of Joyce Campbell. Te Taniwha and The Thread are two series created by Joyce in collaboration with Ruakituri historian Richard Niania. Through photography, Joyce captures various sights across Wairoa exploring local mythology, history and ecology. This exhibition is a significant mark for Uxbridge (soon to be called Malcolm Smith Gallery), reflecting the turn of a programming era headed by the newly appointed curator Balamohan …

WWLD? In Conversation with Lisa Reihana

WW..D? Is an interview segment where we get to know awesome people that are a part of the creative community in New Zealand. This week we spoke to Lisa Reihana. Lisa is one of New Zealand’s senior practitioners whose work has been a pioneering force in the challenging of prescribed Māori aesthetics. Her multi-disciplinary approach to art making creates sophisticated multiplicities. The much anticipated in Pursuit of Venus (infected) recently had it’s world premier at The Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, receiving much critical acclaim and situating itself as a landmark work for New Zealand contemporary art. Read more for what would Lisa do? In a way, your practice emerged on that 2nd wave of Māori contemporary art, at the time you were ’young guns’. Has that generational gap been something that you’ve ever been conscious of? Yes I was aware of the generational gap, the importance of being active in your own time, as well as knowing what came before. You should be aware of your context and history. I went through Elam Art …

Syntax Systems at Artspace

Participatory art can be seen as easy. It is easy for an artist to create work within the gallery in the hope of engaging communities. What’s difficult though is actually getting communities to participate (especially if the communities are not the usual art audience). There is one challenge for the artist and a whole other for the person who’s job it is to dial a community. It’s harder because often that person wants to make sure these community groups have a thoughtful experience. I know because for Peter Robinson’s solo exhibition SYNTAX currently showing at Artspace I’m that person. As the Education Intern it’s one of my jobs to engage and connect with different groups. I create opportunities offsite and on that try to instigate ripples of connecting the ‘non art audience’ to the gallery.  It’s not easy and I’m learning what works and what doesn’t. To be honest I was a bit apprehensive when I learnt that I would need to invite groups to be involved in Peter’s work. Why would they be interested …