All posts filed under: Reviews

Wunderūmma at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki

Assorted small things In a room full of perspex cases and salon-hung paintings at the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, there are two modest works sitting quietly side-by-side. Wunderūmma: New Zealand Jewellery showcases so many works that it appears overwhelming. In this particular case a fascinating piece from Te Papa Tongawera, titled Randell Cottage Jewellery, 1850-1910, makers unknown, rests alongside Kate Newby’s Most Naturally from 2013. Both works involve a collection of small items carefully arranged, and seeming to promise a good story. You can find them for yourself in case ‘L’. It took me several inspections of Wunderūmma to get to know this pair and the fascinating story behind the Randell Cottage Jewellery. Long forgotten, the objects were found in a hidden cache of the Randell Cottage in Thorndon, Wellington. A bloom of turquoise oxide now covers the small collection of keys, brooches and other miscellaneous items. No one knows the collector, where the objects came from or why they were chosen. Kate Newby’s work on the other hand consists of a number …

The Theocracy of David Bowie

Theo Macdonald is an artist that publishes a regular comic series called Theocracy – an excruciatingly simple pun on the artist’s name. The autobiographical and mock-scholar tone of Theocracy suits, as with each new release, Macdonald outlines another adventure of embodied cultural critique. The latest issue titled Go Out – Stay In – Get Things Done, outlines the artist’s fourteen-week conversion to David Bowie circa 1983 (one of the musicians most maligned periods). As Macdonald explains on page one: “The project is thinking about how certain parts of an artist’s career are canonised and the transitional phases glossed over.” The comic format is a surprisingly intuitive guide to the conceptual performance piece. The necessary context of the work is made illustrative, and each intricacy repurposed as a twist in the story. A map of Macdonald’s experience during the performance; the comic is a personal record of what might otherwise seem a deceitful exercise. While Go Out – Stay In – Get Things Done feels like the definitive guide to the performance, Macdonald’s shape shifting found …

Loverdose Tattoo at Pilot

What do you do with an empty pink gallery space, (Pilot, in Hamilton) courtesy of a previous exhibition, called, Hey, Cutie! There’s only one thing you can do and that’s make love in it. It cries out for such employment. And that’s what artist, Lauren Burrow did. Well, almost. By proxy. What you see when you walk into the gallery painted in three shades of gorgeous pink, is nothing. You’re simply surrounded in soft cherry reds: flushed, rosy, glowing and blushing: and then you hear, if you listen carefully, the slightly muffled voice of the artist on a recording reciting her poem, while at the same time involving herself in self-pleasure. The poem is entitled, Full Body Msg (Massage) and was recorded during the artist’s residency at the physics room, Christchurch.  It lasts for 4 minutes 30 seconds and plays on loop. Here are some of the lines randomly collated from the poem. Things are more real if you say them out loud. Slow motion water falling mirror cage. Keep on going. When I was …

Game of Two Halves: Simon Denny

This is part three 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. Venice is strange. I looked across the canal to see the newest addition to the Biennale headquarters, the Australian Pavilion. The steel clad structure loomed on the water’s edge like a dark modernist beast, and the iron ore surface left no illusions about where they’d got the money for the eleven million dollar pavilion. Amidst plenty of pomp, Cate Blanchet cut the ribbon for the venues inaugural exhibition. Accurately titled ‘Wrong Way Time’, Australia takes the prize for big money flop of the 56th Venice Biennale. Perhaps strangest of all, the New Zealand representative at Venice has a German accent. In this fairground where nationalism is the binding oil, New Zealand backed a Berliner. Good call I reckon. The strongest pavilions at Venice are those …

Game of Two Halves: Biblioteca Marciana

This is part two 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 long bridge that connects Marco Polo Airport to Venice. Crossing the bridge on the airport shuttle bus, I could see the dome of Santa Maria and the tower of Saint Marco. Familiar sights, though not due to any art historical training (I got a C in 104 Renaissance Italy). Instead, I’d spent hours scaling Venetian rooftops in Assassin’s Creed II. This kind of knowledge that was once privileged, difficult to attain, can now be acquired in some surprising ways: for the price of the water-bus up the Grand Canal, I’d already scaled 16th century Venice and killed the Doge. Walking off the wharf at Saint Marco, I noticed a Simon Denny banner draped over the big marble building to my left. I’d …

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 …

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 …