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, April 17, 2009

A question of Faith

Boris Dornbusch: In all applications: in all departments
Te Tuhi
7 March - 12 April 2009 (This show is over now.)

Boris Dornbusch is one of those artists who seems to regularly think in terms of tropes, especially when he is working with moving image that he is presenting in an installation. The DVD is presented in a sort of austere theatrical setting, a few props that comment on the content of the film. Recent works at Starkwhite and Room 103 confirm this.

For the Te Tuhi show, the DVD was projected over a floating helium balloon hovering in front of a wall. It showed somebody from a seventies American TV show I would term a ‘faith healer’ more than a magician, somebody with allegedly paranormal powers who can push or pull people (or objects) through space with invisible forces radiating from his fingertips.

In one scene he is attempting to lift a ‘patient’ lying on a bed, by running his hands over his sides and above, without touching. Trying to get him to float weightlessly, like the balloon onto which much of the image is projected.

In another scene the standing patient is seemingly pushed and pulled backwards and forwards without physical contact. Though his eyes are shut, the patient seems to be coordinating his leaning with the movements of the ‘doctor’ behind and in front of him.

So what is Dornbusch up to here? Is he commenting of the degree of faith in our lives, our gullibility perhaps? Is he being rude about the artworld that he himself is part of, like you or me? Is he saying don’t believe all you are told or shown, or is he saying the exact opposite, that isn’t this great, it’s gotta be good for you?

The balloon indicates scepticism I think. It establishes the presence of irony. It could also have a metaphysical intent, like perhaps the broken window in Room 103’s installation, alluding (like Magritte) to a world of illusion with a false veneer that is suddenly exposed.

Lots of interpretative layers.

(Image courtesy of Starkwhite and the artist)

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