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.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


I’ve wandered much of late: Vivien Masters, Olga Tuzhba, Chloe King, Jennifer Mayer, Philip Good
St. Paul St 3 (in Symonds St)
13 – 16 August 2008

This is a small group show of final year AUT students doing BVAs, in a space that has been recently acquired by the institution. It is currently in a makeshift state but hopefully St. Paul St 3 will soon be brought up to scratch with proper lights and lining - so it can compete with other university galleries around town, like say the George Fraser.

It’s a very uneven exhibition. Jennifer Mayer’s photographs, organised in two sets of three, owe a lot to Sam Taylor Wood, but at least they look like a substantial body. Some other artists, like Olga Tuzhba, only have two photographs (of shrubs digitally blended into spare interiors) where more are needed.

Vivien Masters has a projection where the wall looks blank most of the time. Then suddenly without warning, a sequence of 12 -15 coloured images are rapidly fired onto the screen, after which we get a blank screen once more. The process is then repeated. The staccatoed shots of blurred faces, mouths, parts of clothing or meals, seem to be about intimate relationships and the bombardment of human emotion through the senses.

Chloe King, in collaboration with Olga Toujba, has built a shelter of cardboard boxes accompanied by a voiceover describing the civil war between Georgia and Abkhazia, a conflict that has been raging since 1962. Most of us don’t know about this fight. It seems the artists are attempting to arouse international interest, perhaps even ultimately UN intervention. However using rambling, tentative, unedited voice-overs like this is pitiful, and too derivative of Nova Paul as a method. A cohesive balanced package with images, maps and careful historical explanations would be far more effective than relying on one individual’s commentary to get the gist across.

Philip Good’s panels of thinly applied oil paint, depicting suburban backyards or abandoned lots are also disappointing. The tonal weight within his images is inconsistent and unresolved spatially. Parts jump out with no logical reason why.

This is not a good exhibition. It’s too derivative and undistinctive. Perhaps the earlier two shows in this series were better. Anyway, hopefully AUT can get the space cleaned up before long, so that a superb venue matching the other two galleries opens soon.


Anonymous said...

Oh men, I am definetely sure that you have knowledge in history. My main concern is, if your knowledge about art is the sane......

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
John Hurrell said...

Sorry Murat, I removed what I thought was an accidental duplication. But you mean 'NO knowledge' don't you?

You might be right, but how about presenting an argument showing my ignorance? If you are so certain, let's hear a case?

Anonymous said...

Rather than presenting an argument, I noticed that your comments are mostly subjective and arent supported by solid evidence that one of them is your limited knowledge about history. For instance, the conflict between Georgia and Abkhazia,has been raging since 1921 not 1962. There is no UN intervention. There are Russian peacekeepers. I believe art is universal and when it comes to understand and make a comment about it, we should be judging it with a little more wider vision. It must be obvious that I dont have a much of knowledge of art but it does not prevent me to not agree with you as I was there at the exhibition and I really enjoyed to be there.

John Hurrell said...

You are absolutely right, Murat, to correct me for my stupid historical error. I have no excuses for that blunder. However while I admire your tenacity I think it is you who is being subjective about the exhibition, not me. If the artists (Chloe King and Olga Toujba) had really wanted to persuade their audience to take an interest in this war they should have made the installation more user friendly. My suggestions were practical towards helping bringing about that end. Now some artists are indifferent towards their audiences, but in this case, one assumes the artists wanted their listeners to stick around.

The discussion of course is complicated because I didn't think much of the total exhibition anyway. The King/Toujba display was only one of four parts.