Posts Tagged ‘ffrench’

Who is kidding who?

On Saturday I snuck out to the Dunedin Art Gallery for a quick look around.  It was unfortunately a VERY quick look as Cafe Nova seem to not appreciate customers dining alone and for the 2nd time I have been basically forgotten about. Change of cafe needed.

Anyway I wanted to looked at the Di ffrench exhibition, Activating Ideas and Te Huringa/Turning Points. Both left me a little bemused and I haven’t been able to write about it. Then today I read David Eggleton’s review of the ffrench show in the Listener and was so amazed that we saw it so differently that I am inspired to try and write something about it.

I suspect the difference is that I knew little (or nothing) about ffrench’s work and so could not place it in any context and therefore I didn’t really pick up on the large photos of muscular nude men that apparently dominated the show (according to Eggleton and the catalogue). I was much more drawn to the female studies and altered, layered, collaged and projected photographs. There was a series of  The Lady of Shallot that I was very drawn to. After reading the catalogue and Eggleton’s review I have this odd feeling we were looking at very different exhibitions and I wonder if I should go back. I admit I entirely blanked out the video installations but still its odd the male figures didn’t really register (not being adverse to naked men or anything).

Te Huringa/Turning Points confused me even more. It apparently “presents a diverse range of works devoted to the representation of Māori and Māori subject matter by Pākehā and the way in which Māori art practitioners have reflected their own ideas and concerns” and the works are selected from the Fletcher Trust collection and the SarjeantGallery collection. I thought it was a really interesting idea but was limited by the collections. What I mean is it could have worked much better with access to more works. Maybe that would have been too  much scope though? That said there were some stand-out items, including Robyn Kahukiwa’s Tihe Mauriora and also landscapes by John Tole, Melvyn Day and Selwyn Muru.

Tihe Mauriora (1990)

I am a bit “over exposed” to Kahukiwa but this work was very powerful (and I liked the spray paint).

The thing that completely creeped me out was Catharine Hodson’s Touching the Unthinkable. A big room installation about the artist’s experiences with cancer. To me it was all the worst parts of hospitals and medicalisation. Did NOT want to go there. So I guess it was sucessful in evoking a response with me.

A quick mention of Michael Morely’s “big wall” show. I don’t get it at all. I mean its so like Julian Dashper. The Aubudon birds were worth seeing though. I’d seen the other sections on display before so gave them a miss in my haste

So to an enthusiastic amateur such as me it was a good mix of things to see. I probably totally missed the various points but it made me wonder what the experience of the “man on the street” is when going to a gallery. What is the demographic of the gallery visitor? Why are they there at all?

*Written to the tunes of Cannonball Adderley and Miles Davis “Autumn Leaves” from the Somethin’ Else record

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