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Enjoying The Light

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However we are not living in the seventies: the drinks and food are pragmatic and encourage lingering and return visits. A shrewd strategy.

Auckland

John Ward Knox
A Projection of Light

6 - 12 March, 2010

 

Only a week long, this short Newcall show by John Ward Knox involves a minimal installation, a couple of photographs and some potential socialising. The T-shaped gallery is apparently empty - apart from a group of three or four chairs and a box that serves as a table for some biscuits. It anticipates some chat over a nibble and a cuppa, if the visitor is so inclined. This furniture is by the far wall opposite the glass door.

There is no electric light and the large windows by the entrance (facing north) are all uncovered so that daylight ‘projects’ in - direct sunlight or glare reflected off buildings or the sky. Because light cannot bend around corners, the smaller, inner, rectangular space extending to the side of the main gallery is much darker.

This arrangement emphasises the light coming in the window and changing over the passing of the day. This point is emphasised by the artist installing two photos of a cloudless sky, taken two hours apart at Miranda on the Coromandel Peninsula, with the lighter one placed on a light wall, and the much darker one on the darkest wall. Their presence seems to serve as signs to visitors to be mindful of the changing illuminative properties and how they effect the room’s architectural features. It also makes sense considering the artist’s interest in Seurat-like biro drawing and undulating sculptures carved directly into plaster-covered walls.

John Ward Knox seems to offering an immersive phenomenological experience where the role of ‘spectator’ and ‘art object’ breaks down, where the very act of visiting as a participatory element contributes to a total environment. Any conversation had with the Newcall gallery minder or other visitors feeds into this. The three ‘items’ of gallery light, photographs and conversation are more calculated and cohesive than what was at first apparent.

That might be a weakness, for it could be that the relational aspects overstate the obvious and that a quietistic private experience with just the light and space and photographs is sufficient. However we are not living in the seventies: the drinks and food are pragmatic and encourage lingering and return visits. A shrewd strategy.

 

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