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.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

I read no news today, oh boy.

Fiona Connor: Notes on Half the Page
Gambia Castle
13 February – & March 2009

I’m one of those people to whom verisimilitude in artworks means nothing. I make a mental note but it doesn’t impress me. (In fact the mindless labour usually makes me shudder.) Yet I really like this room that’s full of life-size replica newspaper honesty boxes, periodical holders, and magazine racks, along with fake walls with sliding glass display windows. The reason I think it is extraordinary is what is missing. There is not one hardcopy publication, fake or genuine, to be seen anywhere.

I like the idea of this project and its loaded absence, that all of a sudden there is no news to be found. Nothing has happened to report, no developments (worthy or trivial) of any kind. The local populace has evaporated; the nation scattered to the four winds - and the world even further. Imagine sitting in your home with no printed media. No ties to anything 'beyond'. Only family, neighbours and very close friends.

This eschewing of newspapers and magazines implies a rejection of consumerism, the thirst for voyeurism, commerce and the daily or weekly details of sport and celebrity culture. It also suggests an ostrichlike refusal to acknowledge the world beyond the reach of our bodies - almost but not quite, an embracing of solipsism. A turning of one’s back on other minds and bodies. A spit in the eye to the various communities all magazines and newspapers represent.

The density of all these facsimile display stands in the Gambia space is important too, the fact that there are so many visual types from assorted countries all over the world. Their range and cramming in creates an impression. It makes the lack of (apparent) printed paper all the stranger. Even creepy in its media silence. A memorial to the vanished hard-copy perhaps. Farewell to the touch, weight, look, smell and sound of inked-upon paper.

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