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JH

Minimal Yet Evocative Read

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Christina Read, The Usual, 2012, projector, slide, cardboard. The Usual installed at RM The Usual installed at RM The Usual installed at RM (detail) Christina Read, Little squares of wax, 2012, leather, glue. Christina Read, Nose of silver and gold, 2012, leather, glue Christina Read, Ideas for a show (a), 2012, leather, glue, pencil Christina Read, Ideas for a show (b), 2012, leather, glue Christina Read, Elephants, 2012, leather, glue, pencil, wool The Usual installed at RM (detail) Christina Read, Balloons and rubber bands, 2012, leather, glue, balloons, rubber bands, wood, paint The Usual installed at RM

Of the other three items, a piece of floor sculpture provides the exhibition title, an old fashioned slide projector shining ‘The Usual' in text form on the wall. It is like a New Yorker cartoon. And as a show title, it ironically implies the exhibition is in fact unusual and you'd better not miss it. Or it could be claiming the 'usual' brilliance.

RM

Auckland

 

Christina Read
The Usual

 

10 May - 26 May 20012

Christina Read’s set of cut out, suede leather, paintings at RM are simple, austere compositions, usually reliant on glued-on concisely-lettered sentences and occasionally, the words of titles.

On the main wall four of these minimal but elegant hangings are butted together in a row. They all vaguely interconnect - formally and conceptually. The first, of six little white rectangles positioned in a curved line (as if a mouth), apparently refers to some European queen’s false teeth. It is entitled Little squares of wax. Wax is associated with ears, so putting ears to mouths seems to joke about whispering and secrecy. While putting even hardened wax in mouths seems vile and disgusting.

The second seems to also refer to body parts, maybe prosthetic metal noses used to replace noses eroded by syphilis or the result of warfare. Nose of silver and gold hints of corruption and greed - the smelling out of money. There is also an ambiguity. Is it one nose or two?

Ideas for a show (a) states its own name in block letters, but with horizontal rectangles faintly drawn to enable word positioning and still detectable, no (a), and with slivers of colour peeking around the ‘R’. The ‘F’ and the last ‘O’ are hard to read - a perverse pun perhaps on the artist’s surname.

The last work in that suite, Ideas for a show (b), seems to be a tall yellow plinth on a grey mat - though it could be like the two noses with one vertical rectangle obscuring another. Or part (a) obscuring part (b) - the title self-destructing.

Of the other three items, a piece of floor sculpture provides the exhibition title, an old fashioned slide projector shining ‘The Usual’ in text form on the wall. It is like a New Yorker cartoon. And as a show title, it ironically implies the exhibition is in fact unusual and you’d better not miss it. Or it could be claiming the ‘usual’ brilliance.

Balloons and rubber bands is just that, those white and yellow items glued in a posey-like cluster onto an uneven, dark blue, mutilated rectangle hanging off a stick. It is the best painting here for the collapsed materials look intriguing - the rubber bands implying they could keep air within such balloons, and perhaps a soft reposte to Schnabel’s famous plate paintings. And the blue support is strangely funny too. A brilliant combination that really prods the imagination.

Elephants displays a sentence that claims these creatures are not capable of jumping. The way the words are set out on three lines has the middle one forming an extended trunk. Above the text appears to be three strands of sharp wire and between the top two, a severed elephant’s tail made of coloured wool. A poignant morality tale.

This is a nice, amusingly whimsical show from Read. Its lightness of touch doesn’t necessarily mean you’d tire of it, and the last two works especially resonate with all sorts of connotations. Well worth visiting.

John Hurrell

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