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.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Sticky light

Eddie Clemens: Captive
Sue Crockford
14 October – 8 November 2008

Eddie Clemens has quickly acquired a reputation for making witty surrealist or satirical wall sculpture assembled from pristine components that he has contracted out from various industrial manufacturers. Often they are kinetic. Moving or static, they invariably are subtle in their references.

In the main gallery at Crockford’s he has two sorts of sculpture: for wall, and for floor. The freestanding project is an installation of collapsible clothes drying racks, those white rubber-coated, wire frameworks that let your washing dry indoors during the day while you are away at work.

Several of these are on their sides. On the thin bars parallel to the floor Clemens has placed transparent drops of hot melt glue, positioned at regular distances apart. They look as if dripping clothing has just been removed because it wasn’t drying quickly enough, to be popped into a spin drier hidden round the corner.

Placed near Crockford’s large windows the rows of drops on the racks catch the light streaming in, and glow. This is clever, sensitive work that is so understated it would be missed if put in the wrong site. It is about perception, not narrative. The transformation of the ordinary.

Clemens’ wall sculpture consists of black umbrellas festooned with keychain - made of tiny connected balls not links - that configures into large spider webs when opened. The drooping silver lines, like the rack drops, sparkle in the light. The umbrellas suggest Magrittean bankers and black suited civil servants, and are slightly creepy – like crows’ wings. The webs, which have Goth connotations, allude to the catching of prey, clients with money.

The brilliance of Clemens’ imagery is that it works on you when you have left the room. It bubbles away in your mind, taking a little time for its richly layered resonances to become apparent.

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