Nau mai, haere mai, welcome to eyeCONTACT, a forum built to encourage art reviews and critical discussion about the visual culture of Aotearoa New Zealand. I'm John Hurrell its editor, a New Zealand writer, artist and curator. While Creative New Zealand and other supporters are generously paying me and other contributors to review exhibitions over the following year, all expressed opinions are entirely our own.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Beautiful but Disturbing Grids

Tom Nicholson biilboard project: Action for Another Library
Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts, Pakuranga, Manukau City
15 September 2007 - 10 February 2008

Tom Nicholson is a Melbourne artist currently presenting a group of billboards on a high fence on Reeves Rd opposite Te Tuhi in Pakuranga. Like his namesake Nicholson Baker the American novelist, Nicholson is preoccupied with the fate of libraries. Baker is upset about the disappearance of old books and newspapers from American libraries, a consequence of municipal management decisions reflecting concerns about storage and user statistics. Nicholson on the other hand is concerned about the consequences of the war in East Timor and the systematic destruction of libraries by the withdrawing Indonesian forces as a method of suppressing dissenting opinions.

Nicholson’s large photographic hoardings show grids of charred shelving and walls along with traces of incinerated publications. They are surprisingly beautiful black and white images, deliciously large so they can be easily seen by passing cars. They have real impact in an outdoor setting.

As artists often do (like say Eve Armstrong) Nicholson’s project comes in two parts: there is the visual display with the hoardings; there is also the interactive component in the Pakuranga library, where he displays a dozen didactic artist books about the events in East Timor. Nicholson has a pragmatic purpose behind his artwork, a desire to bring about palpable change through education, generosity (he is appealing for replacement books) and publicity.

No comments: