Friday, November 13, 2009
Marsupial @ Newcall: If only…..
Curated by Hamish Win
5 November - 21 November 2009
For Newcall, Christchurch writer, curator and Marsupial entrepreneur Hamish Win has cooked up a nationwide baker’s dozen: Mark Braunias, Nik Geene, Simon Glaister, Robert Hood, Paul Johns, Simon Lawrence, Denise McCulloch, Greg Malcolm, Miranda Parkes, Ashlin Raymond, Malcolm Terry, Telly T’uu and Tao Wells.
While it is a sort of coughed up, lumpy but inconsistent dog’s breakfast, there are good things if you take a long stick and poke around a bit. Some of the artists are poorly represented, like Telly T’uu whose best paintings feature flat shape, not flimsy Mardenesque lines as here, or Simon Glaister, whose poster claims to offer a personal list of rated preferences of other artists in the show (but of course doesn’t dare), or Robert Hood, whose photographs of South Island gas stations on the window are disappointingly ordinary - but others come out well.
Mark Braunias should be prohibited by law from ever handling a paintbrush but he is a genius when it comes to delicate, whimsical, illustrative fantasies, drawn with pens. His forte is graphic imagery for magazines, newspapers and natty little pamphlets, not canvases. What entertains in one looks contrived, ingratiatingly cute and ‘try-hard’ in the other. The tone alters in another context. Here his talent shines within Win’s takeaway, free, wee mag The John Dory Report #19. It’s become a Braunias sketchbook.
Simon Lawrence has a superb wall arrangement of ‘tribal’ versus ‘Catholic’ artefacts – an elegant composition where a selection of ‘primitive’ wooden statuary is positioned alongside chinaware and cards bearing portraits of various Popes. It doesn’t seem to be about any particular sort of god or object of worship, more about two types of western market – non-believing tourists versus committed devotees. A witty anthropological statement.
Paul Johns contributes a portable neon ‘No Smoking’ sign, that’s lying on the floor. Its glowing cigarette is contained within a bright red circle, but without being cancelled by a diagonal red line. It thus mischievously seems to advocate smoking, not prohibit it, despite the wording below the image.
Included amongst a suite of landscape videos by Miranda Parkes is an incongruous film of a flapping white curtain pinioned against a slightly open window. The ripples and billowing forms mesmerise much like the movement of a fire or running brook. It could (and should) be in a room by itself, it is that compelling.
Ashlin Raymond presents a major video work, Ludic Transformation Celebration, that is a send up of the self-realisation industry and the popularity of mystical 'goal actualisation’ programmes – showing herself dressed as an ancient Egyptian priestess. With her accompanying pamphlet it pumps out the slogan Kiss The Future, and amongst the asinine non sequiturs are aphorisms like ‘Kiss the Future is the tiny empire inside your heart.’ Raymond’s project (her image is above) is good company for Lawrence’s look at certain religious and collecting communities, and one of four or five works that make Win’s show worth calling on.