Gallipoli: The Scale of Our War – Exhibition Review

By Saskia Willox

Te Papa approached Weta Workshops about a collaboration to create an exhibition commemorating the 100-year anniversary of Gallipoli. This exhibition showed through the eyes of real New Zealanders who were there the tragedies of the 8 month long campaign in which 2779 New Zealanders lost their lives. Te Papa set out with the intention to unpeel any myths that remain around the 8 months of the Gallipoli campaign. I think they did this very successfully. I did not know a huge amount about the experience of the New Zealand soldiers and left feeling incredibly informed. Weta and Te Papa really set the tone for what it was like for New Zealanders and how they felt and remembered the war.

The exhibition contained various artifacts such as weapons used in the war, three-dimensional maps and projections as well as countless photographs some of which were taken by the soldiers on the front line. Some parts of the exhibition were extremely intimate. You got the opportunity to hear recounts from veterans and read letters written by the soldiers at war, some who were killed soon after. There were eight giant sculptures of the men who were actually at Gallipoli. They were so realistic it felt almost as though they might suddenly move or get up and walk off.  They were 2 ½ times the average human size and this made the detail of these figures even more amazing. You could see their pores, veins, hair and even beads of sweat rolling down their face. They were truly spectacular. The team at Weta did not shy away from the brutality or the gruesomeness of Gallipoli and showed disease and infestations of lice and flies as well as blood, dead bodies and the wounds of soldiers. They really captured the cramped and filthy conditions in with the soldiers endured.

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There was a perfect combination of things to read, things to look at and things to interact with at this exhibition. I could imagine people from all age groups being fascinated in something there. This is not the kind of thing that I would usually be interested in but this exhibition made me forget the world outside. I was completely encapsulated in all that was Gallipoli for the 2 hours it took me to navigate my way through the exhibition. The only thing that tainted my experience of this exhibition was the amount of people that were in there. I had thought as it was during the week and quite a long time after the exhibition had opened that it might be quite quiet but I was constantly tripping over people and there were queues to use any of the interactive pieces. This project took an estimated 24 thousand hours to produce and cost a ridiculous 8 million dollars. While I think this exhibition was breathtaking and will be very important in framing future generations perceptions of Gallipoli I find this kind of money really difficult to justify. Although I was pleased that it was still a free entry exhibition.

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Text by Louise Rutledge

I Love You / But I Want More – Exhibition Review

By Jordana Bragg

For nine days of  August (Monday 11 – Thursday 21, 2014) an undergraduate Fine Arts exhibition was held in the Engine Room Gallery (Block 1, Massey University Wellington, CoCA), open on site 12-4pm / 5.30-7pm.

Curated and facilitated by then fourth year Fine Arts (with Honours) student Louise Rutledge, by the pointed and seductive title: I Love You / But I Want More

The majority of the 17 Massey University Bachelor of Fine Arts undergraduate artists who installed over the nine day course of I Love You / But I Want More were curated by Rutledge to feature in the space for one day (12-4pm / 5.30-7pm), with particular artists assembling more permanent features that were apparent in the space during the closing event Thursday 21 (5.30-7pm).

All works which inhabited the space over the nine days (whether intermittently or permanently), when applied to Rutledges’ extremely considered approach and application of how best to optimise the space, made for a constantly engaging experience. With each day bringing traces from the day before, and every new piece installed adding something new to the conversation.

Upon entering the front foyer of the space to the immediate right sat the portable bookshelf Art Print Space alongside a small table offering tea, immediately encouraging a relaxed conversational space. On Tuesday August 12 2014 (day two), Robbie Whyte installed a participatory drawing space (in the form of a large sand pit and costume made rake), which emodied the space playfully and made room for serious contemplation.

As a constantly inviting and evolving process, (don’t disregard the next sentence as purely lip service), I Love You / But I Want More is currently incomparable to any past Engine Room exhibition that I have attended during my time as a BFA student at Massey University, Wellington.

(Header text: Louise Rutledge)

Wellington Performance Arcade – Exhibition Review

By Mayke Blom

18-22nd February 2015

I walk around and through carefully placed sets of shipping containers, each one containing a performed installed artwork. There is a bar and a stage and seating welcoming the passers-by to socialize and pause a moment to peek around corners and engage with a fleeting experience. The 5 day show runs all day and into the hours of the evening until dark.

I feel curious and confronted with contrasting performances that ask me to engage on many different levels. There’s a studio set up like a stage, asking for requests of personal stories, a peep-hole to look at a star-wars psychologist where people open up about their feelings in a closed off room. Or stand in front of a photographer who decides to take your picture whilst she’s nude. Some of the less confronting works are passive observational pieces or are devoid of human interactions altogether. This includes work like time machine where you can zip back and forth to reflect on passers-by of the waterfront. Or Rainscape, a passage from one end of the container to the other, engaging with the textures, sounds, the density of the air and visual effects.

The flurry of diversity and the way it engages as an intervention of an everyday space encourages me to see it as an amusement park of art ‘objects’. Some of the works are out of containers and are moving through the city, really pushing for the manifestation of art to integrate into the spirit of ‘creative Wellington’. I feel like there is a drive for continued engagement as a yearly event, offering an opportunity for artists to reflect in art making of changing presentation landscapes.

I feel like when art tries to engage with a public audience the reactions are limited and the time spent with the works is reduced. The experience/intervention becomes a memory through the media, and identifies within the contained space of the urban and of the shipping container, confining the work dimensional limitations. However of course these limitations are innate unless of course you introduce the use of audiovisual installation, in which the performance arcade successfully integrates the variety of works this year.

I like how this event is transferable to other urban environments, with shipping containers being a globally accessible object. I feel like the independent works could function a bit more successfully on their own as they sometimes blend into one another, perhaps through practical application.

Having been involved as a volunteer in the set-up of the work, I think the Performance arcade has definitely developed since its first production 5 years ago. As an interventionist event it challenges new modes of presentations of performance art and culturally increases accessibility and awareness of performance art practice. As well as strictly performance works, the arcade travels across art disciplines to include AV set ups, installation and object art, interactive and combining media enhancing and questioning the context of installation and performativity space.

The arcade interprets an artwork as a performed space, an interactive experienced environment between a staged spatial or figurative composition. This environment would definitely help me better comprehend audience engagement and interactivity through use of limited space within my own work as a semi-interactive audiovisual installation.

Luke Munn: swfer – Exhibition Review

By Jordana Bragg

swfer | Luke Munn | Blue Oyster Art Project Space | 9 May 2015 – 06 June 2015

swfer continues Luke Munn’s investigation into the relationship between immaterial, sterilised technology and the intimacy and physicality of our moistmedia bodies.

[moist media] is a term coined by Roy Ascott to signal the emergent confluence in media art of (wet) biological processes and (dry) computational systems.

The bold typeface proclaiming swfer, as the title of Luke Munn’s current exhibition at Blue Oyster Art Project Space (open 09 May 2015 – June 06 2015) had me at its lurid use of hot pink. Fortunately, on Saturday May 09 2015 I found myself in the Octagon in Dunedin at approximately 2:30pm with half an hour to idle. With the large-scale exhibition Private Utopia at Dunedin Public Art Gallery (open 28 March 2015 – 09 August 2015) looming over me like an obligation I could not fully commit to, and the awareness Blue Oyster was to close in half an hour, I ran to Blue Oyster, and right into an artist talk with Luke Munn and Matthew Galloway.

In the front gallery space on the right wall behind those seated at the artist talk I noted a small-scale pink wall text stating: ‘i-chatmobi’, (iChat – 2015) and upon further investigation it was understood to be a provocation to interact with an online messenger application iChat:

iChat is a messenger application embodied by a ‘Tumblr teen girl aesthetic’, when interacting with iChat a conversation reformation occurs between a ‘decoy adolescent female’ + a ‘predator’.

Citing directly a conversation from Perveted-Justice.com, the application articulates entrapment strategies and the importance of human connectivity/representation/vulnerability online, (whether genuine or constructed).

Against the end wall of the front gallery space a projected text work (Code Swishing – 2014) screens currently circulating Internet acronyms, for example: ‘SWM’, and beneath this the expansion: ‘Single White Male’. This work was initially humorous, yet after time with the work the specific acronyms selected and their intentions became more sinister, asserting a critical awareness, potentially of how these text reductions and their cyber perpetuation simultaneously over simplify and complicate identity politics online (FWB: friends with benefits, GBM: gay black male, BBW: big black women).

Moving into the back gallery space I encountered a disk drive painted white and situated on top of a white plinth (SeeDee – 2014), with a faint soundtrack of the disk burner in operation underneath. At this point I overheard Luke and Matthew discussing “breathing shallow while waiting for emails to load”, which I found extremely applicable and entered back into the front gallery space to stand within ear shot while reading over the titles and work descriptions. In the medium section of SeeDee (2014), it outlined semen as a component of the materials alongside the plinth and disk drive. This particular involvement of the body and, furthermore, bodily fluid evident in the title, yet invisible to the viewer prior to reading the description, provoked me to consider this action in relation to anxieties surrounding uploading the body online and the ever-present yet often ‘invisible’ or little discussed under current of pornography online.

As an exhibition which considers / reconsiders the intrinsic relationship between the gallery space, cyber space and URL / IRL human connectivity and experience, I position this text as anecdotal, a provocation for others to experience swfer IRL (in real life), and to engage with the online components: iChat and the artist talk available on sound cloud (links attached).

Matthew Galloway in conversation with Luke Munn: https://soundcloud.com/blue-oyster-dunedin/luke-munn-talking-to-matthew-galloway

Link to application iChat: http://i-chat.mobi

Clearing – Harbourfront Gallery – Exhibition Review

By Sophia Gambitsis

Interactive Installation – Publication website

Harbourfront Gallery

Toronto, ON /// 2008

September 27, 2008 – January 4, 2009

Project Team: Lateral Office

Mason White, Lola Sheppard, Joseph Yau

Photographs: Peter Legris

For more than 40 years, Harbourfront Centre has believed to have been both current and creative, bringing together the best in Canadian culture and various other cultures world wide.

Harbourfront Centre is an innovative, non-profit cultural organisation. Whilst I did not see this in-person, the information on the show was very detailed and successful as I felt well informed on the Later office web page .  Documenting an interactive normally has some pictures and a summary, but this one had diagrams of the artists interaction and how people interacted. This created a parallel between knowing and the unknown.

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The project was to highlight the unseen parts of personal space. This meant people would take some round disks to hold the hair like wire. Clearing is a commission for a room-sized interactive space that invites visitors to investigate the politics of personal space.

This is an interesting work which plays with human interactions such as making way for people. It looks like a very fun work that I would want to play in because it’s inviting and open. The images online showed an empty work and a filled one.  The contrast of an interactive work with and without participants was a successful way of photographing the project. After seeing this way of documentation and the diagram, I wish i photographed my installations better as I always a did an untouched installation photograph.  While the information was good on this project it could have had a better understanding of the work if video was used as well, since the movement of people on a time lapse would have been very interesting, as the space would change and dance in a way.

http://lateraloffice.com/CLEARING-2008

Yvonne Todd: Creamy Psychology – Exhibition Review

By Grace Hunt

December 06 ‘14 – march ‘15

I visited Yvonne Todd’s “Creamy Psychology” at City Gallery the day before it was being downsized; in total there was around 150 photographic works by Todd, the first time the City gallery has given over so much space to one artist. The first thing I noticed about this exhibition was the sheer amount of work By Todd that was on display, I found it to be kind of overwhelming and lost interest relatively quickly because lots of her photographs depict very similar things (Heavily made up women in a commercial photographic setting with something slightly off kilter seemed to be a reoccurring motif). I would’ve liked to revisit this exhibition when it was downsized to see if it made any difference for me.

I then noticed the presentation of these images differed from the more traditional way in which photographs are hung; many were hung in clusters at differing heights. I presume that this was a conscious choice to hang them in such a way was to further emphasize the off-kilted nature of the photos, however I found it to be more of an annoyance than anything because it meant I had to the images longer to figure out what was “off-kilter” about them and wondered if it was really necessary.

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What I enjoyed most about this exhibition was being able to have small glimpses into the behind the scenes of Todd’s photos, on the second floor of the City Gallery there was a collection of vintage gowns owned by Todd that were alongside some of the photos they were used in. There was also a collection of her workbooks with tests and ideas before they had come to fruition on display. I personally enjoyed this bit the most because I am intrigued by the work that goes into creating photographic works, I think that the effort put in to photography is often overlooked because of how instantaneous the final product is.

David Shrigley: Life and Life Drawing – Exhibition Review

By Judith Yeh

In the summer of 2014, National Gallery of Victoria presents David Shrigley: Life and Life Drawing, a comprehensive exhibition – his first major survey in Australia – of new and recent work by the internationally renowned Glasgow-based artist. Shrigley has developed a cult following for his stripped back, darkly humourous and deliberately crude drawings that explore existential dramas, human dysfunction and anxiety.

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The exhibition encompasses drawings, paintings, sculpture, animated videos, artist books; and a commission for NGV International’s Waterwall titled General Store, selling objects (or art perhaps?) such as plastic blow up “Useless Swans” to a twenty-five thousand Australian dollar gold tooth made out of brass. The artist’s omnipresent sense of humour lies at the heart of these works, which are manifest in tragicomic narratives that reflect on the banality and absurdity of everyday life and objects.

The first encounter upon entering the exhibition is a robotic head with blue, red and black ball point pens sticking out of it’s nose, arduously drawing half circles on an enormous piece of paper. Hanging around the walls, are the laborious “artworks” created by this robotic head. And this is just the beginning to the many surprises to come. Shrigley’s starkly surreal, dark humour mostly exist in forms of his cartoon like, often grotesque drawings and clipped text. In one, an emotionless tiger says, “I eat people, I like doing it”.  There are several full walls plastered with arrays of these pictures. Seen as whole, it’s as if Shrigley is trying to convey some terrible message. There is also a piece called “Beginning, Middle and End”, which is essentially a 400m-long coiled sausage made of clay. The idea came to Shrigley after he was left with two tonnes of clay and no specific purpose for it. This sense of Shrigleyness extends to the centrepiece, a piece called Life Model, which is largely produced – or perpetuated – by its audience. Life Model is a sculpture of a man, surrounded by chairs, which are ideally filled with people drawing the sculpture. The drawings are then exhibited as part of the work, so that gradually the walls surrounding the sculpture will fill with contributions by the audience.

There are many reasons this is one of my favourite and one of the most memorable exhibitions I have visited. As the Guardian art critic Adrian Searle said, “Shrigley’s work is very wrong and very bad in all sorts of ways. It is also ubiquitous and compelling.” There are lots of artists, says Searle, “who, furrowing their brows and trying to convince us of their seriousness, aren’t half as profound or compelling.”