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.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

My need is such I pretend too much

F is for Fake
Curated by Emma Bugden
Te Tuhi
7 March - 12 April 2009

This group show examines the notion of authenticity as applied to the art experience, and the difficulty of ascertaining its presence. It includes a suite of pencil drawings (and a poker-work box) by G.F.Goldie (once known as Karl Sim); some purloined but genuine gallery signage nicked over the years by the then light-fingered Dane Mitchell; some seemingly genuine correspondence between the said Mitchell and the Crockford gallery about wall preparation; some hand carved tins of paint, rollers, boxes, fire extinguishers and furniture from Glen Haywood; a replica by Warren Olds of a Hotere mural proposal; and three fiddled with, collaged NZ Heralds from Fiona Connor. And more...Great also it was concurrent with Pivi’s ODS project.

All together there are works by thirteen artists. Not all of it succeeds. Shigeyuki Kihara’s parodies of corporate logos on 28 T-shirts, arranged in a three walled installation - are clumsy and over stated, the worst sort of histrionic knee jerk art, and far removed from the sophistication of her best projects. Ronnie van Hout’s self portrait as ranting cow-cockie, is a great sculpture, very funny, but oddly out of place here. Like Connor’s newspapers too, it doesn’t push the viewer, doesn’t fool anyone, doesn’t really employ verisimilitude to deceive.

The best works do – particularly the star acts from overseas: Rod Dickinson and Tom McCarthy, and Les Liens Invisibles. Dickinson’s and McCarthy’s faked historical paraphernalia around an envisaged, successful, anarchist bombing of the Greenwich Observatory in 1884, is fascinating – a wonderful array of pseudo documentation. And Les Liens Invisibles subversive websites are extraordinary in the sheer inventiveness of their cunning and the derisive nuances they manage to incorporate. Many who arrive at their site must get a rude shock once they realise its mischievous intent.

Gelatin is a Belgian art group whose account of a fake balcony they made to project from a window on the 91st floor in one of the Twin Towers is a great read, but its existence remains uncertain, the documentary images (photos from a helicopter) are so grainy. You are never entirely convinced. Is this ‘fake’ Photoshopped?

The title of this show comes from an old 1975 Orson Welles movie that reflexively undermines itself, but the real philosophical underpinning of this show’s mixture of attitudes, values such as those cheerfully upended by artists like Karl Sim, can be found in Denis Dutton’s book The Forger’s Art: Forgery and the Philosophy of Art. In this 1982 anthology he and other philosophers examine those arguments used to uphold the higher status idea and originality have over craft and manual dexterity. For those interested, here are a couple of pieces of writing on this theme by Dutton himself.

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