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Curtailing Visitor Visual Access

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Andrew Kennedy's From a Field of Vision at Window gallery in the University of Auckland Library foyer. Photo: Sam Hartnett Andrew Kennedy's From a Field of Vision at Window gallery in the University of Auckland Library foyer. Detail. Photo: Sam Hartnet Andrew Kennedy's From a Field of Vision at Window gallery in the University of Auckland Library foyer. Detail. Photo: Sam Hartnett Andrew Kennedy's From a Field of Vision at Window gallery in the University of Auckland Library foyer. Detail. Photo: Sam Hartnett Andrew Kennedy's From a Field of Vision at Window gallery in the University of Auckland Library foyer. Detail. Photo: Sam Hartnett Andrew Kennedy's From a Field of Vision at Window gallery in the University of Auckland Library foyer. Detail. Photo: Sam Hartnett Andrew Kennedy's From a Field of Vision at Window gallery in the University of Auckland Library foyer. Detail. Photo: Sam Hartnett Andrew Kennedy's From a Field of Vision at Window gallery in the University of Auckland Library foyer. Detail. Photo: Sam Hartnett Andrew Kennedy's From a Field of Vision at Window gallery in the University of Auckland Library foyer. Detail. Photo: Sam Hartnett Andrew Kennedy's From a Field of Vision at Window gallery in the University of Auckland Library foyer. Detail. Photo: Sam Hartnett Andrew Kennedy's From a Field of Vision at Window gallery in the University of Auckland Library foyer. Detail. Photo: Sam Hartnett Andrew Kennedy's From a Field of Vision at Window gallery in the University of Auckland Library foyer. Detail. Photo: Sam Hartnett Andrew Kennedy's From a Field of Vision at Window gallery in the University of Auckland Library foyer. Detail. Photo: Sam Hartnett Andrew Kennedy's From a Field of Vision at Window gallery in the University of Auckland Library foyer. Detail. Photo: Sam Hartnett Andrew Kennedy's From a Field of Vision at Window gallery in the University of Auckland Library foyer. Detail. Photo: Sam Hartnett

This Window show uses different sized walls with vertical slots between them - a ‘game' of peek-a-boo, concealment and exposure, as a sort of tease. Not only is it a game involving the physical detection of the panels' location, but once found and examined, there is the question of the nature of each of the four images.

Auckland

 

Andrew Kennedy
From a Field of Vision

 

15 July - 15 August 2015

Andrew Kennedy is well known for the exhibition design work he does out at Te Tuhi, and for the collaborative projects he regularly does with other artists like Blaine Western. This onsite Window project continues his interest in viewer (bodily/spatial) manipulation and the ocular. It also continues his interest in the artisanal aspect of art production: the manual crafting, preparation and construction.

There is a metaphorical component too. Looking at Kennedy’s configuration of obstructing MDF walls and layered floors - behind glass (clear in the centre, cloudy in the outer edges) in the university library foyer - we see in the middle a photograph of an artist (signified by paint stained work-clothes) pressing on a steel stripped hoop, perhaps an amusing signifier for the ‘malleable’ gallery visitor.

In his gallery blurb Kennedy writes of his interest in the research of Bauhaus teacher Herbert Bayer (1900 -1985) in exhibition design (Fundamentals of Exhibition Design, 1937) where the movement of the gallery visitor is anticipated. This Window show uses different sized walls with vertical slots between them - a ‘game’ of peek-a-boo, concealment and exposure, as a sort of tease.

Not only is it a game involving the physical detection of the panels’ location, but once found and examined, there is the question (in turn) of the nature of each of the four images. Is it a painting with pigment applied manually? Is it a photograph with its coloured planes manipulated digitally? Or is it a form of relief sculpture, albeit very flat? How do the changing lighting conditions affect its surface visually over the course of the day?

Thus the movement and access of the visitor are tightly controlled as they traverse up and down the foyer, parallel to the surface of the thick rectangular glass plane at the gallery’s centre - taking advantage of its clarity (it is not as blue or murky as the vertical side panels) while also trying to avoid its reflections. Then there is the use of imagination as the viewer ponders the aspects of height, the elevation of the flat floor panels on the other side of the glass - and how these relate to the examined panels (scrutinised ‘long-distance’) positioned above them.

The images are all intriguingly ambiguous. One (used for the invite) features a crumpled ball of purple-grey paper that is laid on what appears to be a sheet of the same - spread out and opened up, unfolded, so it could almost be - and maybe is - really thin (very soft) fabric. Another presents a walking cane that could also be a type of metal periscope, neatly punning on the perambulations of the inquisitive visitor, desperately wishing to peek around corners to see artworks in their entirety. Then there is the photo of the fellow with the steel hoop (it seems to be a serrated saw blade), and the black painted monochrome structured by variations of glossy sheen.

Because of its use of MDF and sculptural presence, Kennedy’s project has superficial affinities to Jason Lindsay’s freestanding contribution to A World Undone, the Stephen Cleland-curated Chartwell show at AAG, though with Kennedy the presence of the glass panes is crucial, and the notion of display (unlike Lindsay) is undermined. Even though you feel a little like a white rat in a Skinner Box being operantly conditioned - you could be in a sort of maze - this is a fascinating exhibition to investigate.

John Hurrell

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