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.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Motorway paradise

Cellulite Rose: Island Resort
Room (295 Karangahape Rd)
14 May - 30 May 2009

Artists collective Room, formerly Room 103, have moved. They are now firmly ensconced in the middle of Auckland’s ‘Art mile’, positioned very close to MIC, and opposite ARTSPACE and Ivan Anthony. It’s an inspired location, and the exhibiting space has a very different ambience from the old downtown venue in Achilles House. Much less office-like, it has a concrete floor, no carpet, and a clean rectangular shape with no nooks and crannies.

Cellulite Rose’s show is a great start, based on a landscaping oddity just around the corner and easily visible from the Newton Road overpass, facing East. I look at this peculiarity almost every day when I walk to K’ Rd to check out the shows. In the gallery she (I’m assuming a female gender here) has installed a large projected DVD loop on one wall, and two much smaller LCDs on the opposite one. The above three images are stills.

The DVDs show the artist (another assumption) taking advantage of a landscaped pond and incorporated line of trees in the middle of the Northwestern motorway. The A shaped form is tucked into the southern edge between Upper Queen St and Newton Rd – near Ian McKinnon Drive.

The artist has decided to use the newly discovered ACC amenity as an island resort, to put up a hammock between a couple of cabbage trees and use a lilo to shoo away the ducks and splash around in the sun - amidst the noise and fumes. I imagine she (and recreational equipment) got dropped off by friends who also took the photos. It would be too dangerous to go there by foot.

So, as art, is this interesting? Obviously it is an entertaining prank, a bit of light-hearted exhibitionism, but it also raises questions about big cities and how little the general public know about planning decisions that affect their daily interaction in the civic space.
This ‘resort’ seems to be some sort of stormwater outflow that has been cosmeticised to help beautify the motorway. As such it is a good idea, but one which because it has been successful, has also been invisible. Hundreds of cars drive past it every day, with not one driver ever realising it is there. Just an occasional haven for aquatic birds and nosey-parker artists.

(Thank you to the artist and Nick Spratt for the images.)

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