John Hurrell – 24 September, 2011
As the crowd squeezed into this elegant modernist balconied flat, they were literally dazzled by Savtchenko-Belskaia's contribution, an array of three hydroponic lamps bolted to the ceiling of its small lounge and distinctive with their shiny reflecting flaps and intensely bright yellow light. Outside on cue, between 6 and quarter past, the dark sky rapidly transmuted into a pale Curacao blue, brightening up the air over the trees and roof-tops.
Alexandra Savtchenko-Belskaia and Sonya Lacey
Sat 17 September 6-8 am
A week ago the small Auckland artist project group Parlour presented this, the first of a series of Parlour Peeps events, on an early, nippy mid-September morning in the Freeman’s Bay flat of the two artists. The hosting members and supporters worked with impressive logistical precision, giving lifts to those who asked, serving coffee, croissants, fruit and gluten-free oatcakes, guiding the sixty-seventy visitors to seats or floor space and disseminating information about Savtchenko-Belskaia and Lacey.
As the crowd squeezed into this elegant modernist balconied flat, one of several in a block, they were literally dazzled by Savtchenko-Belskaia’s contribution, an array of three hydroponic lamps (for plant -growing) bolted to the ceiling of its small lounge and distinctive with their shiny reflecting flaps and intensely bright yellow light. Outside on cue, between 6 and quarter past, the dark sky rapidly transformed into a pale Curacao blue, brightening up the air over the trees and roof-tops.
Alexandra Savtchenko-Belskaia also used the occasion to display some highly nuanced ceramics which at first glance seemed to be simple abstracted landscape painting on pieces of broken hardboard. In reality they were thin flat fired clay, with textile textures pressed on both sides and patches of thin blue mottled glazes. Two pieces lay on the low table in the lounge and another was upright, leaning against a window ledge so the horizontal blue line could be compared with the view out the window. Another ceramic container with a plant was positioned on the bar between kitchen and lounge. Both her interest in ceramics and in getting the viewer to look out of windows have featured in earlier projects.
Sonya Lacey‘s work consisted of sitting at the bottom of the stairs leading to the upper floor and talking to small groups that came over, curious to se what she was up to. She would read aloud a carefully prepared text and pass around three surprisingly heavy smooth silver objects, lenses taken from sunglasses and cast in zinc. These items cleverly related to her text and to Savtchenko-Belskaia’s project.
Using the terminology of science Lacey described in precise detail what happens to the body (and to eyesight in particular) when the brain is deprived of oxygen. Interspersed with her account of how vision is impaired and consciousness ends were paragraphs describing the fading of reflected light from the surfaces within the dwelling as the sun goes down - underlining the cohesiveness of the two artists’ performance.
I tend to be a sucker for dawn ceremonies, it always being - I find - a pleasure to see a new day’s early light reveal that part of the world I happen to be standing in; a process that never ceases to amaze. So mixing that with a sensitively constructed installation and performance, surrounded by congenial company, makes such a Saturday pretty special.
To read a transcript of the panel discussion “Whose Oceania?” held recently in London, and more on NZ arts abroad, CLICK HERE
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