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, October 29, 2008

Connecting to the 'Real' World

SUPERFLEX: If value then copy.
23 October - 22 November 2008

SUPERFLEX is one of those politically motivated art groups that kicks into motion certain processes that function in the zone between the ‘art world’ and ‘life world’. This is exemplified by the concept of the littoral, a term not linked to them specifically but which nonetheless is related to their practice. (It is discussed and promoted by theoreticians and artists like Bruce Barber, Grant Kester and Ian Hunter.) However the littoral is originally a late seventies concept that is regional in focus. Contemporary art collectives like SUPERFLEX on the other hand are resolutely global in aspirations, and comparatively less altruistic and more anarchistic. They mix a wild nihilism into the commercialism of their aims.

Keen to have a palpably subversive influence in a capitalism dominated world, to intercede within it economically (though not solely on behalf of economically disadvantaged communities as in littoral), the Danish group have come on their second visit to New Zealand, this time for a show in Auckland. (The first was to do a Govett-Brewster project with Greg Burke.)

Their ARTSPACE display involves two projects that explore copyright issues, and are anti–monopoly and anti-private ownership. There is also a third component which promotes the other two by enabling the screening onto t-shirts the slogan (in Māori or in English) that is the title of the show.

FREE BEER presents the local manufacture of a beer that is brewed using a recipe circulated by SUPERFLEX, and modified as a local variation (Version 4.1) with its own uniquely coloured label. In readiness for the closing party, Auckland artist Simon Cuming is making a new variation (Version 4.2) that will be available then. Most of the profits will go to ARTSPACE.

The other project, COPY LIGHT, is more humorous: the photographing of famous brands of lampshades, and the duplication of those images so the photos can be positioned on cubes to become new ‘box’ lampshades. Though the gallery blurb says that the borders between originals and their copies are being tested this is not really the case. The new lampshades would never be mistaken for their source originals, even if legally the process is not permitted.

This is a clever exhibition that deals conceptually with ‘ownership’ in an unusually forthright manner. Since Napster became popular though, such themes are hardly revelatory. Good to ponder over nonetheless. Especially if you are thirsty and have two dollars of loose change in your pocket.

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