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 7, 2008

Here is another take on the touring Close Up show (toured by McNamara Gallery) - from Peter Dornauf

CLOSE-UP Contemporary Contact Prints
Ramp Gallery; Wintec
4 August - 22 August 2008

It was Duchamp who once said an art work that didn’t shock, wasn’t worth making. That would immediately rule out ninety-five percent of the current stock. But then that was a Dadaist speaking, and speaking at a time of crisis – civilization going down the tubes and all that, with the need for the artist to raise the voice a tad. A little hyperbole never hurt no one.

Still, sometimes it’s the inside voice that can cause a double take. It happened at Wintec’s Ramp gallery recently, which is currently showing a truncated version of Contemporary Contact Prints earlier seen at Gus Fisher.

The work in question that caused a ripple was New Zealand Playing Cards by Ben Cauchi (8x10 gold print). On a flat matt background are presented two images; one a playing card and next to it, a slightly worn playing card box (of antique vintage, perhaps late nineteenth century). On the cover of the cardboard box (manufactured by AD Willis Ltd Wanganui) is a picture of a Maori chief, someone looking a little like King Tawhiao. The card itself presents a Maori warrior in battle cry stance, the word, Joker, inscribed in cursive script running at an angle behind the figure.

After the initial shock, there are so many layers of meaning afforded the viewer, both historical and contemporary in this work.

Among others in the show are Laurence Aberhart doing Laurence Aberhart with stark mysterious interiors and Darren Glass doing Laurence Aberhart using a wide angled pin-hole camera to capture in an equally moody and mysterious way images of an old abandoned machine gun post.

Fiona Pardington offers us something from her series, Proud Flesh, (role reversal of the male gaze) and a sequence referencing the Huia bird, ironically owned by Whanganui Museum; Wanganui with an H. Judicious placement by the curator next to the Cauchi piece.

Mention must also be made of a local Wintec student, Chloe Ferguson, whose close-up dual image of a female head (sepia print) rivalled that of the main attraction. Titled Vencie’s Box, it evoked things Renaissance, Raphael and stuff otherworldly. A nice contrast to the ‘made in New Zealand’ look in the other room.

Above images from Cauchi and Pardington.

No comments: