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.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Spot the difference

l. budd /untitled /N.D. (c.1997)/ awning, acrylic paint /1350 x 5500 x 1100 mm (extended)

disputed (et al) / National Park (sorry) / 2008 / wood, cork, tarpulin, perspex, paper, speaker, rock, amplifier, rubber, fabricated trolley, foam, found image, acrylic paint/ edition of five / 1200 x 1120 x 900 (overall, approx) / courtesy of Starkwhite

lionel b (l. budd) / unity of appearance / 1997 /awning, acrylic paint, pencil / 1400 x 2800 x 1170mm

l. budd / untitled / 1992 / hand-poured silicon, plaster, wallpaper / 130 x560 x 300 mm (each,approx.) multiple released by the Estate of L. Budd

The Estate of L. Budd
Michael Lett, Auckland
15 April - 17 May 2008

This show is about the pleasures of language, the joys of mischief-making, and the limits of identity. Revelling in ambiguity, it forces the visitor to examine lists of materials and names, to check their accuracy and to ask if their leg is being pulled. It is the type of show that museum registrars must dread because the most basic procedures become slippery, evanescent and untrackable. Items and their accompanying definitions move around. Things are never where you left them last.

In recent months L. Budd appears to have died. The et al collective will have to carry on without his/her contributions. But looking at the list of four works Lett has provided, the titles don’t seem accurate.

The untitled work, for example, of a dozen multiple scroll holders and three pieces of wallpaper, has no trolley listed and according to et al’s Govett-Brewster survey publication, was made by Merit Gröting anyway (see arguments for immortality, p.96).

Yet above it on the catalogue is another work which has disputed authorship, one called National Park (sorry), a fish tank covered with bubblewrap (unmentioned) on a trolley, and containing a speaker which occasionally plays Arabian music.

As for the likely meaning of these objects: the scrolls and awnings in this show double as possible paintings (‘blonded’ surfaces) and symbolic shelters from hostile elements. The unity of the collective ‘self’ is both disparaged and embraced by contradictory components. Different personas are showcased but they have unifying commonalities which remain.

Plus the main work here, the scroll holders, seems to be about art collections, archives, and storage facilities. It is reflexive, about the care of itself and other et al artworks. It’s a minimal, tough work (especially if the trolley is not included), one that gives the finger to various clipboard–ticking museum bureaucrats, government officials and collectors who want their art and artists easily defined and properly housetrained.

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