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, July 9, 2008

More barricades

Charles Ninow: Effective Campaign Heroics
Curated by Ash Kilmartin
Window gallery, Auckland University Library entrance
July 9 – July 26 2008

Charles Ninow’s Window exhibition seems to reference Dane Mitchell’s Barricades exhibition at Starkwhite last year (and a little Daniel Malone thrown in as well) - such are its allusions to street barriers and Molotov Cocktails (see online video). The display consists of the glass space loaded up with dozens of paper posters folded into paper bags and filled with air. A cynical comment on revolutionary rhetoric perhaps, especially as barricades are usually made of sandbags (and a photo of some is on the webpage). Air filled bags may be good for bluffing at a distance, but they aren’t going to block bullets or tanks.

The same sarcasm seems prevalent in the video. Shaking a SUMMIT ginger beer bottle with a breadknife in it references petrol bombs, spray paint, and hoons spraying each other with beer. The results though, are only a lot of rattly noise. When the knife slips out to fall on the floor it is termed a ‘breakthrough’. Such spillages happen six times.

The online video and gallery display seem calculatedly vacuous. The latter has a European look about it, especially that of the great French artist Arman, who in the early sixties filled vitrines with consumer items, and sometimes dry rubbish. Just as Piero Manzoni canned and sold his own shit, Ninow with his fake Arman, seems to be provocatively marketing ‘hot air’ as ‘political’ content. Deliberately insubstantial - and adroitly droll at that.

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