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.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Join those zigzagging dots

Daniel Munn: Plaza
Performance and installation
29 July - 13 August 2009

In Newcall Wellington-based artist Daniel Munn is presenting an installation of eight items that as residue (used props) partially come from his opening night performance where he was serving coffee from a van outside the gallery entrance. The nine demitasse cups and saucers (made in Thailand) he used are there, but not the white wrought-iron table – that has been replaced by a circular frottage on the floor (made by Martyn Reynolds under Munn’s instructions) of a Japanese manhole cover. And there are extras, like sections of veneer-covered corner shelving, leaning against walls or fitted into corners – that the artist has named as Plaza (as a form of public space) that accompany the sipping of coffee. Plus the photographs.

The handles of the small cups are vaguely related to two key photographs on one wall, of a marble statue of a young Christopher Columbus. In this carved work by Guillo Monteverde (1837-1917), the youth has one of his feet absent-mindedly twisted around the handle of the urn he is sitting on. Impatiently anticipating the oncoming New World while celebrating the death of the Old one, perhaps.

This statue is currently in Boston, but at one time it was in Vancouver, in an enclosed courtyard (also photographed) consisting of a small amphitheatre with circular, tiered, public seating. There is a vertical rectangular column in its centre that may have been the sculpture’s plinth, and near its ruined top a tagger has left their signature.

Munn has been so intrigued by this he has had that graffiti tattooed on his right hip. He is obviously interested in how images (all sorts) physically travel around the globe, and reproduce (in form or in quantity). They run in flows like dispersing streams of Japanese train carriages or poured coffee.

With his show Munn has two texts by pals to help confuse (Tao Wells – who else?) or clarify (Martyn Reynolds) what he is up to. Great reads if you are interested in travel in Japan or Tao Wells.

I guess Munn here is really the rich man’s Seth Price or the poor boy’s Christopher Williams. It’s a conceptual jigsaw that you really need to badger the patient people behind the desk at Newcall about if you (like me) want more clues. In the meantime (before I have a think about Sean Grattan - Munn's co-exhibitor) I’m going back to the exciting new site I’ve found on Japanese manholes.

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