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, September 11, 2008

A message from Tokyo

Hello Lamb: The Perspectives of Elsewhere
Curated by Michelle Armistead
rm 103, Achilles House
4 September - 27 September 2008.

This unusual exhibition at rm 103 is a collective that travelled to Japan to participate in a one day art fair in Tokyo and to invite some Japanese artists to strut their stuff in Aoteroa. It is energetic, colourful and a lot of fun to visually rummage through, despite being in a darkened room (if you want to see non-electrical works like the ceramics of Tessa Laird you have to cheat and sneakily turn the room lights on) and despite much of it being condensed onto a freestanding array of shelves.

Shelves are not a good way of art presentation but it suits portable items through convenience. Tobias Berger did this in Sao Paulo (2004) and I always felt he insulted the chosen artists with such a shonky display.

Too much proximity creats visual sludge. In rm 103 it is a major project to determine which artist is responsible for which item and what those things are actually made of. Many works are in an adjacent room and are easier to look at simply because they are more spread out.

Yet it is possible to concentrate - and be rewarded. Here is a sample of works I personally enjoyed:

Brydee Rood: her illuminated, glowing plastic kittys with applied baked-on Fimo.

Ryuzo Nishida: his sensational photograph of mum, dad, baby girl and pet cat, all wearing cardboard funnels around their necks to prevent any scratching of flea bites or imbibing resident ticks.

Keng-Pin Hsu: a video of various small articles being pummelled by descending ping-pong balls.

Tessa Laird: her ceramic version of Roland Barthes’ famous Empire of Signs.

Go Watabe: a shimmering screen of magazine headlines cut from glossy paper covers, activated by a hidden fan.

Ichiro Endo’s video Go for Future. Part of its text, which is stated one or two words at a time, and spoken in hesitant halting English, reads: open your eyes and open your mind...this is a message for love and peace and for future… a message from Tokyo. Let’s start together.

Genda Yoshinaga: colourful cardboard box covers of him in mid air energetically leaping at different sites around the city.

Kimita Hattori: Rain, a fluffed-up piece of cottonwool held aloft on spindly wire legs. Hilarious.

Ichiro Endo again: a video of said screaming artist noisily running into walls within the city centre - and being totally ignored by surrounding crowds. His Message from Toyko is on the same dvd.

Kennyuu Oku: a couple of bouquets of plastic flowers, forlorn and abandoned.

Takashi Otaguru: terrific video by him of himself walking rapidly through busy footpaths, and ringing a bike bell when he approaches congested areas - so people can let him through. Highlight of the exhibition.

Daisuke Watanabe: three elegant photographs of social activities with the faces cut out in small circles. A bit like Baldessari but without the colour.

Koshi Kawachi: a series of passport photographs glued on to pieces of sushi attached to a cutting board.

Kakuro Sugimoto: three large bits of driftwood, mesmerisingly covered by small fluorescent yellow and red fishing floats. Illogical, but compelling.

This entertaining and vibrant exhibition is well worth visiting, especially while the Daniel Webby ‘gymnastics’ show is also open on the third floor upstairs. Don't miss it.

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