Things I have seen. (This week)

That, That Was and Wasn’t
– Second Story Gallery

Friday, unplanned, I went to an exhibition  which was happily one doorway over from my studio in The Second Story Gallery, and spoke to the artists about their use of the gallery space and about how many artists have a studio on or close to Krd. Whether or not there is the potential for some kind of meeting place for those artists. Like  a coffee morning for the neighborhood artists, or is there one already that I don’t know about? It sounds like a good thing to be involved in despite realising that the fumes from the nail clinic beneath my tiny studio are responsible for the recurring headaches I have been experiencing, so I may have to vacate the K rd premises when the winter weather forces me to work with the window closed.

The artists showing were: Cathy Carter, Deborah Rundle, Denise Batchelor, Margaret Estall and Vivienne Worn.

I have to admit, although I enjoyed the works separately and found their textures, movements or forms intriguing I couldn’t seem to find an overarching theme or conversation for the very short lived ( 2 days!) show. I enjoyed the eclecticism, the mix of painting, video, word art written in light and bio-sculpture, however I would have liked to be able to understand some connecting thread. My own fault for not asking while I had the chance I suppose, but I tend to like to be able to pick it up with my own intuitions or take away some reading material or a link to where I can read and understand it  better later, I can be a bit of a slow burner that way.

The highlight for me was seeing some of the film works by Denise Batchelor, the abstracted videos of mundane events captured my attention, making me look at ordinary things with new eyes.

 

Destroyed Word
Santiago Sierra
-Te Tuhi
 

Sunday, I made it out to see Santiago Sierra’s Broken Word. I had been meaning to get out to see this since I heard it was coming and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. I had been reading about it in the Autumn edition of Art News New Zealand so I knew what to expect but I was still spellbound at the spectacle and was entranced for the whole 20+ minute loop.

Watching the industrious people, animals and machinery destroy what they had built, all unaware of what each other was doing, and in the dark as to what will be spelled out from their labour was a clear and clever way to talk about the costs and gains of capitalism on a local and a global scale.

I particularly found myself attracted to the entry from Papua New Guinea, the long arduous exhausting process of cutting down the freshly carved ‘I’ pillar with a simple axe was mesmerizing. More so perhaps than the letters where it was harder to see a physical human struggle, perhaps masked by the use of machinery.

The other entry which reinforced this for me was the aluminum ‘L’ dismantled by firemen wielding the jaws of life. The group of uniform encumbered men who worked together to break the solid form were then celebrated by their audience applauding from the balcony above, much like the felled ‘I’ was swarmed with celebrating local children once the column had been tumbled.

While watching the letters and therefore the Kapitalism fall under the industrious hands of the participants I felt a sense of accomplishment or triumph, watching Kapitalism destroy itself through it’s own actions but left with a sense of achievement as the locals celebrated the downfall of their respective elements.

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2 thoughts on “Things I have seen. (This week)

  1. Awesome that you’ve been getting out there and seeing stuff Rose. You’re waaaay more onto it than I…I tend not to go to exhibitions at all. I realise in part that this is because exhibition spaces are in some ways separate from reality. I feel like I should be entertained when I enter into a space where there will be things that are supposed to entice me, or make me think. I don’t really go to movies either. I feel anxious in galleries and bored in movie theatres.

    In writing that, I do spend a lot of time outdoors as a silent observer, just watching reality pass me by. For me, that experience relays to me all the things that art is perhaps designed to, but never does. I’m not so good at experiences that take me out of ‘real’ spaces.

    In thinking about your desire to have been given something that would have enabled you to perhaps find more meaning in the first show you wrote about, what kinds of strategies do you adopt to make sense of the things you encounter at random in your daily life? The art experience, and the environments in which we expect art come with a range of tools that enable us to engage in particular kinds of ways. It is almost as if our experience is staged. Then of course, we feel somewhat lost when those tools are unavailable.

    I suppose what I am getting at is I wonder where the cross over point is? What are the boundary markers that tell us to apply differing strategies in order to understand things in different spaces, and are there ways for us interrupt these boundary markers for viewers of our own works?

  2. I totally agree with you that our experiences with art in most contexts are staged, there is that manipulation by the exhibitors or the gallery to shape our experiences and influence our reading of the work.I wonder if that was what was missing in that particular exhibition, perhaps my experience hadn’t been shaped enough, or perhaps I am too used to being manipulated and find it hard to steer myself.

    I often feel very awkward at galleries, I have never quite overcome the feeling of inadequacy that I experience when walking into a gallery space, particularly when I’m alone, or when it is a space I have never been to before, this is why I tend to grab things to read and reflect on later in a personal space that’s more comfortable and easier to think in. This is a self-made personal boundary which can sometimes stand between me and an open minded experience with the work.

    Funnily enough I find it easier to apply this process to the more abstract or organic ideas from my experience in real life. I still experience things and ‘take them home’ to think about later but I think I’m more accepting of the possible meanings when there is no fixed right or wrong. When I’m not potentially misreading somebody else’s intentions or waiting for someone to shape my experience, but just allowing the experience and meanings to filter through, drawing my own conclusions.

    I wonder, like you, where those boundaries apply themselves, are they asserted at the gallery door as a physical manifestation or are they more conceptual, a mind barrier to hurdle before you can freely experience art as you would real life. I guess as artists we all have to find some way through these boundaries, some way to open up channels of accessibility for our audience to interact with our work through. Does that mean that it goes back to manipulating the viewer? Staging their experience to make it less of a crossover between a ‘staged’ and ‘natural’ experience? Is that even possible?

    (Most of the time I cheat and use http://artsdiary.co.nz instead of going to exhibitions, then I only visit the ones I really want to see in person. 🙂 )

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