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Posts Tagged ‘Todd’

A Kind of Blue

I have thought long and hard before writing a post about this exhibition (Kind of Blue: new acquisitions and loans). You see I don’t ‘get’ art sometimes, or don’t get the nuances anyway and this exhibition has me stumped even though I have visited three times.

The DPAG spiel on this exhibition says “Over recent years the Dunedin Public Art Gallery has been strategically collecting, through acquisition as well as loans, a number of significant artworks by a range of contemporary artists from New Zealand and overseas. Kind of Blue provides an opportunity for a select group of these stunning photographs, sculptures and paintings by a range of emerging and established artists to be exhibited together for the first time.

This small selection (only 19 works) appears to be made up from the gallery’s collection and the Barr loan collection. I was very keenly looking forward to it after my contemporary art revelation of 2008 at Reboot at the City Gallery, Wellington. It was a mixed bag and I was a bit confused by the labelling/layout in the catalogue (no labelling in the actual gallery). Like I said though, I don’t ‘get’ things sometimes. I very much like Ben Cauchi’s photos and it was interesting to see  Yvonne Todd’s Founding CEO, 2008 which I thought might have been from the Wall of Man series but is dated earlier. A touch of lightness (but yet…not) was found in Campbell Patterson’s Lifting my mother for as long as I can series. The highlight for me was seeing in person the Peter Robinson polystyrene works. I have seen lots of photos online but to see them in person was amazing. Measure of disorder with its delicate chain links was wonderful, but oddly rearranged the second time I visited – although for the better.

At the floor talk I attended for reboot, Jim Barr talked a bit about Martin Creed’s work 88 so I was excited to see that too. Visit one – couldn’t find it and dumb old me couldn’t work out the blurry photo where I expected the Creed work to be (it turns out the photo was part of  Roman Signer’s Fireman’s glove with photograph). On my second visit, I damn near stepped on  Work 88: A sheet of A4 paper crumpled into a ball as it sat on the floor, albeit with a large DO NOT REMOVE sign beside it. Today, the ball of paper was there, with no sign. I am very suspicious though, as it looked nothing like the ball of paper from last week. Yeah ok I am nit-picking, but I found it disturbing.

work88
 Work No. 88: A sheet of A4 paper crumpled into a ball
1995 – 2008, Paper, Approx. 5 cm diam
Unlimited edition
(Image from Martin Creed website)

For me , the catalogue hits the nail on the head with “it is difficult to discern what they [the artists] represent or are contemplating as a group“. I liked individual works, but as a group “they are only remarkable for their aloofness“.

The catalogue also says “there is a distinct coolness to the works” and I am thinking perhaps they were going for a gloomy atmosphere as they say the works address “aspects of absence, melancholy, loss“.  The show is dedicated to artist Julian Daspher who died in July 2009, so I guess that is fitting.

My plan is to go to the floortalk with Jim Barr and Mary Barr on 11th October (3pm) in hope of further clarification.

A Kind of Blue at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery runs from 29 August to 6 December 2009.

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Gothic NZ

My dear friend Helen came around today to help me separate emotion from inanimate objects. It was very ‘cleansing’ and we managed to get rid of heaps of stuff*. However at one point, looking out my front window onto the 1970s beige neighbourhood, she said something like “you really are deep in suburbia here…”

I have just re-read Janet Frames “The Carpathians” and have decided it captures suburban gothic very well. This is also funny because of Helen’s recent birthday trip to Levin where the book is unmistakeably set. Frame’s snapshot of Kowhai Street is so real that the unusual events don’t seem so unusual, and knowing Levin well myself, quite believable.

So it was serendipitous that the book Gothic NZ arrived from the library today. A great essay by Mischa Kavka “Out of the Kitchen Sink”  completely encapsulated the feeling of darkness hidden behind closed doors. The book as a whole is pretty good but certain parts really capture the curious suburban gothic that I keep running into and also how gothic tendrils extend out into the countryside. There were also various examples of NZ art with a similar tone including Yvonne Todd’s photos, working “a fine tension between the conventional and the creepy“. Maybe I am reading it wrong, but I’d put a great deal of Ronnie van Hout’s work in this category as well.

Of course our film-makers do a good line in gothic too. A funny moment this morning was when going through my old my tramping gear, Helen and I both exclaimed “Vigil!” as I pulled out a large green woolen balaclava.


Still from Vincent Ward’s film “Vigil

*However it has left me very tired and probably not making a lot of sense

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