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.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

A beautiful thing

Things that you didn’t know you were enjoying: John Ward Knox and Fiona Gillmore
Window, foyer of the Auckland University Library
31 July – 23 August 2008-08-02

Fiona Gillmore and John Ward Knox present here – away from Newcall - a striking combination of stridency and understated subtlety, a complex collaborative display complicated further with auxiliary texts from Knox and Fiona Connor. Connor writes about Gillmore and Knox’s project (‘A willingness to work together is a beautiful thing a willingness to listen is too’), and Knox’s text is a meditation on the title as applied to listening to music.

Gillmore uses thick, dark blue, vertical stripes on a white wall, vaguely like Buren or Dashper, not referencing awning as a metaphor for shelter (as you could suspect) but providing an optical code for a vertical figure walking up the adjacent steps towards the library entrance. There the same blue can be found discreetly on sliding doors, windows and lined shelves. The stroboscopic mural tinkers with the walker’s sideways glance, ensnaring their peripheral vision and synchronizing it with their peripatetic movement. It plays with memory processes while they are in the library and while they are leaving the building, or returning.

Gillmore’s contribution might be visually punchy but Knox’s you can barely see. It consists of a line of very thin necklace chain coming from opposite ends of the glass pane’s bottom edge, meeting in the centre of the floor and held off in mid-air by springy wire. This very clever work implies the chain is around the viewer’s neck and they are being pulled into the exhibit. It creates a hilarious ideational tension where the viewer’s head is being yanked towards the gallery while their feet are being propelled straight ahead up the steps. Very smart work indeed.

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