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, December 17, 2008

Limited edition for the almost invisible

Julian Dashper
Untitled (Black for Fred Sandback) 2001-08 Edition #1/10
Untitled (Blue for Fred Sandback) 2001-08 Edition #1/10
Te Tuhi
3 September - 3 February 2008

This project of Dashper’s continues the interest in perception that has been apparent in his recent Crockford exhibitions, where some works were hard to detect in the gallery space. The two works in this current Te Tuhi show though are harder to see than the above photos indicate. The light on the wall above the main Te Tuhi entrance is normally dimmer, making the pencil marks look fainter.

Despite Dashper’s titles referencing Fred Sandback, that artist’s acrylic yarn is a lot different from pencil as a material. It has more body and projects forward. However despite Dashper’s work being more like lines made by Agnes Martin, Richard Tuttle or Sol LeWitt for example –by virtue of it being pencil - Sandback did butt coloured lines together in lithographs just as Dashper has done here with black and blue pencil. It’s a nice idea of Dashper’s to do horizontally what Sandback did diagonally.

Most people visiting Te Tuhi will not notice this work, even those who read the rather crass ‘bronze’ plaque located in the middle of what is normally the ‘drawing wall.’ It states the works’ existence, but doesn’t say where they are positioned. The sign will antagonise Dashper’s audience as a cause of frustration.

By being close to the door, the work apparently is meant to reference the Michael Parekowhai sculpture outside, its horizontality serving as a foil to Parekowhai’s verticality. However that is a far-fetched fantasy, an artist’s pipe dream. The two works normally would not make up a pair, they are so different. Dashper’s project is interesting because of his other ‘minimal’ shows that are contextually linked to it. Not because of any in situ qualities in Te Tuhi’s environs, such as acquired artworks. The connection is not convincing.

Dashper met Sandback in 2001 in Marfa, hence the dates of the works’ construction. The works are installed at Te Tuhi on long term loan until 2019 and are in an edition of ten. That means there is a restriction on the number of lines that he will create of those particular colours, pencil type, alignment and length, that he doesn’t intend to crank them out. A clever touch.

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