Babe – Publication Review

By Laura Duffy


Edited by Petra Collins

Foreword by Tavi Gevinson

Yesterday I received a package in the mail.

I screamed, I sang, I instagrammed, I spilt coffee on it, I wiped coffee off with a baby wipe, I loved it.

Babe is edited by Petra Collins who is a young American female photographer, she has written a small essay at the beginning to create context. Outlining her need to create something that reflects her experience of being in the world, rather than a reflection of the superimposed being in the world from popular culture and societal constructs. The mixed media creation features collage, photographs, sculpture, drawings and dabbles in a wee bit of poetry. In the foreword by Tavi Genvison, she discusses female artist in a male-dominated world. Considering exploring sexuality in a non-objectifying + non-male gaze way.

An all female ensemble of artists came together, some I knew, and some I didn’t. With the basic knowledge of the editorial process as well as the real life object of the book I came across new artists within the contextualisation of values and ideas as well as aesthetics.

So basically, if Petra and Tavi think that these artists are worthy of being in their beautiful book, they must be doing some pretty cool and interesting stuff. A great opportunity for emerging artists to gain exposure.

Petra currently utilises interesting dissemination strategies such as Instagram and Tumblr, it comes as a natural progression bring out a book and release it into the mainstream – the very thing Petra is critiquing.  It really is exciting to hold a tangible object after viewing art online so regularly. The photographs within the book are high quality and slick, some taking up the page, some in an asymmetrical form. Laid differently for the different presentation intentions of each artists. Printed in Slovakia the hard covered book is an absolute beaut, an object which will hold value for a long time.



New Psychedelia: Interpretive Learning Guide – Publication Review

By Laura Duffy

Artists: Belle Bassin, Damiano Bertoli, Geoff Kleem, Nike Savvas, Nick Selenitsch, Kate Shaw, Noel Skrzpczak, John Young

7Th May – 3rd July 2011

In the hopes to ‘enhance audience understanding’ this slick online catalogue serves in conjunction with the exhibition New Psychedelia at The University Of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane.

It does what any publication wishes to do, it hopes to ‘enhance audience understanding’. It does this by giving each artist a page, with colour images and providing information about the artist and their work in the exhibition. At the end of the text on every page the catalogue invites the reader to answer some focus questions. Split into two sections of resolve and develop. I’m not entirely sure who the focus questions are questions to? But I assume for outsiders of the art world or high schoolers. Nevertheless I found it an interesting way to engage with the work. At times when visiting galleries with friends or family they’ve expressed a frustration at the idea of trying to “get” something – this is an inclusive way for anyone to be able to think about the work and enter a new way of looking and thinking. As well as being inclusive, I find the focus questions would be helpful for an artist studying similar theory yet struggling to get started into the making process.

Online publications are always great in terms of accessibility as well as cost effective; I always think it’s amazing how I can access something for free from another country. I didn’t actually see the show in real life. The publication doesn’t give much evidence to the exhibition, I would be interested in how it ran and was laid out.

Transcending the constraints of contemporary consumerism and technological constraints, a bridge between inner and outer worlds, the terrestrial psychedelic imagery challenges the viewer to make connections between colour, texture, art and spirituality.  “If consumer society seeks to understand and control the unconscious through market research, opinion polling and other tactics, then psychedelia is its opposite – a weapon that blasts the inner policeman out of our heads.” This catalogue took my mind into interesting new places.

Petra Collins’ Instagram – Online Art Review

By Laura Duffy

Petra Collins is an American photographer and artist, currently working in New York. Petra often photographs adolescent girls with sensitivity towards the exploration of friendship, sexuality and youth. Using the representation of young experiences to encourage young people to become more comfortable within their own bodies.  Potentially reproducing the ideology that she’s trying to critique by discussing female sexuality and development from a male-gaze perspective specifically in her older work. I think she and working through the internalization of the male-gaze and progressing.

Petra seems to be interested in broadening the dissemination of her work outside of the gallery, as well as being involved with Rookie magazine she designed a t-shirt featuring masturbating menstrual blood for American Apparel. She is also very prominent within social media such as Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr. Utilising the mainstream space of fashion and magazines as well digital social media space, which could be said to be more popular than the gallery space for her target audience of young girls. Looking specifically at her Instagram, the photographs are being digitally exhibited, as well as simultaneously published to her account. As well as posting her own work and exhibitions, she includes influences to her life and work. I find this an interesting mixture of professional and personal, workbook and blog. Entering into the same space that she’s critiquing, the mainstream, she’s working from the inside out. As well as allowing easier, instant and international accessibility for viewers.

I found it really thought-provoking when Petra Collin’s Instagram was shut down after posting a picture in bikini bottoms with public hair showing. The photo was reported to Instagram by a number of anonymous users, exemplifying a societal force and regulation to the “norm”.  When interviewed by Oyster on the topic Petra Collin’s expressed her confusion and annoyance drew comparisons to the medias repetitious coverage on Rihanna’s face beaten up after being the victim of abuse. Questioning what is censored and what is not, why are we allowed to see so many horrific things yet censor the natural pubic hair of the female body? She finishes the interview with lingering questions for readers, “WHY you felt this way? WHY this image was so shocking? WHY you have no tolerance for it? Hopefully you will come to understand that it might not be you thinking these things but society telling you how to think.”


Link to Petra Collins website where the Oyster interview is published:

Link to Petra Collins’ Instagram:

Image credit: Screenshot from Instagram & Petra Collins


Mongrel Mob Portraits – Exhibition Review

Mongrel Mob Portraits|Jono Rotman|City Art Gallery Wellington|14 March – 14 June

By Laura Duffy

The exhibition consists of large photographic prints of Mongrel Mob members in frames, occupying three rooms upstairs in the City Art Gallery Wellington.

When entering I received a shock at the intense energy coming from these portraits. As there is a wall separating the entrance and the staircase, I felt a little enclosed which added to the intensity of the photographs. The middle section, where the audience enters, holds massive, slick, and extremely confronting portraits of members of the Mongrel Mob in a traditional portrait style – naturally lighting and naturally posed. The room to the left holds a photograph of a 1970s photograph and a collage, both keeping consistent with the large clear photographic prints. The room to the right holds more large prints with one being a photo of a Mob family, a father and two boys.

Although I have never had any problem encounters with the Mongrel Mob, I come from the east coast where they are quite prominent. Every time had an encounter I’ve automatically avoided eye contact at all costs. It is an interesting, slightly terrifying experience being able to look into and study the face of a gang, which represents awful things. Looking at the tattoos on their faces I can’t help but feel like they’ve received a misguided wrong impression of what mana is.

Thinking that they are warriors, but warriors of what? It forces me to think about why would someone go so far as to permanently ink their skin with the name of a gang that stands for evil. Forcing The Mob to be at the forefront of every interaction in their lives. I found it interesting that the names of the men on the wall text, none of them used their family names, all replaced with “rogue” “notorious” or their city, removing their history. I assume these men have had awful lives to push them into such a drastic lifestyle, that the system has failed them. They are disconnected and outsiders of the community. For this reason I think they’re really interesting to bring into a public art gallery.

The exhibition has received negative attention in the media as one of the men photographed is on trial for murder, the media concentrated on the fact that the victims father thought it was disrespectful to show his photograph.

I’m torn because I don’t want to give these men any personal gratification in the fact that they’re obviously scaring me – in this sense, the entire exhibition pisses me off. I’m happy that the audience for this is Wellington rather than the East Coast because I think it would’ve read differently with more gang affiliations as well as victims of The Mob. In New Zealand we have gang problems, and we can’t look away forever, a discussion around why this is occurring and what can be done to help needs to be had. I think that this exhibition is a interesting starting point to that conversation.


By Laura Duffy

Short film – alongside exhibition at MOMA

This short film by MOMA goes along side Isa’s Retrospective show in New York. I found this video with a quick Google search after being referred to her work by a Tutor. The film doesn’t do too much explaining of itself, instead re-directs to the MOMA website where you can and read more about the artist and her work as well as purchase the retrospective publication in the form of a hearty book.

The German artist is said to be one of the most influential of the past couple of decades, explained to be always ahead of the times. Colleagues, mates and strangers talk about her with an accompanying rock’n’roll-esque soundtrack that set a funky vibe. Rather than reading the book, the video feels like having a conversation with various people who know with the artist, it’s much more relaxed and much more fun. It’s also great that no-one is speaking in pseudo-academic-foreign-language-poetry, I found everything to be easily understood. Yay. Although it’s obviously edited it’s refreshing to hear people speak unscripted and genuinely – rather than reading something laboriously worked upon, they’re speaking therefore their opinions are closer to the surface and more true. It’s great seeing a New Zealand artist getting amongst in this, Simon Denny features briefly talking about how he first came across her work. Which was in an art journal where the photos were black and white. I’m grateful to be privileged with easy accessibility to this film from the comforts of my computer screen.

I’m unsure of if this resonates with other humans aside from myself but I often get this frustrated feeling when I find something I really love that I want to soak it up as quick as possible, that I want to look at it, read it, eat it and inhale all simultaneously. This succeeded at satisfying my need of eating my computer screen but giving me all of it quickly, photos music and words. Boom. My main critique is I would enjoy hearing from the artist, I assume she wants the work to speak for itself. I’ll forgive her. Without the artist being interviewed and the absence of someone speaking in first person it has a tiny tickle of feeling like the artist has died, although Isa Genzken is very much alive.

Hand Labour – Carragh Amos – Exhibition Review

By Laura Duffy

Hand Labour is an exhibition by Carragh Amos at In Good Company, co-working and gallery space on Cuba Street, Wellington. The show is running during March of 2015.  The exhibition consists of delicate hand-made ceramics resting on wooden shelves or platforms, the platforms have a sense of floating as they are suspended and held to the wall by string. Two thin wooden plinths compliment the shelves, holding small clusters of ceramics. On the back wall as well as the back side of the right wall there are paintings, gold on paper. Lightly pinned to the wall. Using a continuous colour pallet of white, gold and bare wood, causes the work to flow nicely together, as well as the same amount of thought put into letting the works breathe. Nothing feels too heavy and fastened down and it all seems light and floating within the space. Using soft subtle focus lighting as well as the sun coming through the windows, the reflections of gold leaf on the paintings and ceramics creates a varying depth depending on light.  With a limited colour pallet the artist is has succeeded dancing a fine line between minimal richness.

The space is used as a co-working space so the calming yet stimulating essence of the work sits nicely, with people occupying the space, working, able to look up.

The freshness of the work flows through the space with aromas of tea and coffee. Because the space is multi-purpose, soft music creates the space to feel not too white cubey and clinical. Beneath the chill, funky vibe of the space lies an interesting conversation around mass production and the value of objects within contemporary society. Up close the viewer is able to see the fingerprints in the clay of the organic form. These objects have space to breathe yet are not so isolated that they look alone, instilling a sense of value and intimacy. Perfectly imperfect impressions of human touch with a drop of gold. The process of making, the laborious task of applying gold leaf as well as the delicacy of ceramics, adds to this.

The applicability to my practice lies within the vague notion of presenting interesting sculptural objects within a space as well as thinking about creating an intuitive notion of value within and contemplation within objects. With similarities lying amongst thinking about mass production and consumption as well as the human body.

Photo taken from In Good Company Space (Facebook page) and photography originally by PeanutButterVibes