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, July 25, 2009

This insidious wraparound…this seamless scroll

Gary Hill, James Casebere, Jude Rae: The Estrangement of Judgement
21 July - 22 August 2009

Site recite (a prologue) was one of the highlights of Gary Hill’s wonderful exhibition held at St. Paul St earlier this year but you could only see it on Fridays. Whilst you can see a diminished version online here, that is obviously inferior in image and sound quality. Therefore Andrew Jensen is re-presenting this work in Auckland, as well as shrewdly curating a show from his other artists around it. Rae and Casebere’s rendered images (bird skulls, things on tables, and skull-shaped rooms) resonate with the videoed objects that come in and out of focus on Hill’s jerkily revolving (but constantly filmed) table.

The voice-over is a text written by Hill himself, a superb prose poem about the reflexive nature of consciousness that riffs on aspects of Beckett, Blanchot, Jabès and others in its deliberations. Like Hill’s assorted bones, shells and papers that come in and out of focus, patches are hard to hear, but sonorous with a stagey actor’s delivery (imagine Anthony Hopkins) – superbly recited by Lou Hetler. He has a bit of Irish brogue in his enunciation of Hill’s finely crafted cadences.

In Jensen’s space there is a sense of a homunculus peering out through the eyes of an invisible skull, the outside world (Hill’s video) on one wall (Hetler reads: this insidious wraparound, tied to the notion “I have eyes in the back of my head”, binds me to my double…), and on the opposite back wall Casabere and Rae provide approximate mental simulacra: Rae with assorted industrial objects on a table, Casebere with his skull-domed room symbolising the mind itself - and the space within which it dwells.

Hill’s possibly over-wrought language may seem to be impenetrable but it is not. It perfectly matches the camera work which to and froes between objects, sharpening on their forms for a second or two only to dissolve and then flick on to another. This happening while we hear:

A seamless scroll weaves my view back into place – back to back with itself – the boomerang effect, decapitates any and all hallucinations leaving (lo and behold) the naked eye, stalking each and every utterance that breaks and enters the dormitories of perception.

It celebrates the pleasures of looking at the world with a relish that comes close to voyeurism, creating a parallel internal monologue that takes pleasure in its own existence, gazing at itself and revelling in its own constantly reperpetuated commentary.

Okay, this is heavily cerebral work for sure, but it also is highly sensual, and engaging, as a visit to Jensen’s will easily confirm.

No comments: