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JH

Bringing The Outside In

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Ronnie van Hout, No Exit II, 2003, mixed media, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. Ronnie van Hout, No Exit II, 2003, mixed media, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. Ronnie van Hout, No Exit II, 2003, mixed media, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. Ronnie van Hout, No Exit II, 2003, mixed media, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. Kate Newby, Mr + Mrs Hands,  2014, fired porcelain, earthenware and stoneware, hand formed glass, table, ink on paper various dimensions (35 sets of rocks) on loan from the artist Kate Newby: What a day, 2013, windchime, 22 ceramic sticks, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 2013; You’re in this somewhere, 2011, 2 parts: pigmented cement and epoxy pebbles. Kate Newby, Mr + Mrs Hands  2014 fired porcelain, earthenware and stoneware, hand formed glass, table, ink on paper various dimensions (35 sets of rocks) on loan from the artist Kate Newby: I'm so ready, 2009, wool carpet, dye and red wine Chartwell Collection Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki purchased 2009; Don’t act all scared like before (Kate), 2009, colour photograph. Simon Denny, Freeview Passport: Channel Document NZ presentation, 2012, mixed media, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki purchased 2012 Simon Denny, Freeview Passport: Channel Document NZ presentation, 2012, mixed media, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki purchased 2012 Simon Denny, Freeview Passport: Channel Document NZ presentation, 2012, mixed media, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki purchased 2012 Simon Denny, Freeview Passport: Channel Document NZ presentation, 2012, mixed media, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki purchased 2012 Ruth Buchanan: No Solitary Beat, 2012, Chartwell Collection; An Image of a Solid, 2012,  Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki Ruth Buchanan, An Image of a Solid, 2012, mixed media, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki Ruth Buchanan: Whole Days Inside, 2012; No Solitary Beat, 2012, Chartwell Collection; An Image of a Solid, 2012,  Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki Ruth Buchanan, Whole Days Inside, 2012, mixed media, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki

Varied in their interests and media use, most of these individuals have been Walters Prize finalists and so - certainly in Auckland where they all have dealers - the personal preoccupations that they regularly explore are well known to most art punters. Consequently there are few surprises.

Auckland

 

Kate Newby, Simon Denny, Ruth Buchanan, Ronnie van Hout, Fiona Connor
Inside Outside Upside Down: Five Contemporary New Zealand Artists
Curated by Natasha Conland


18 July - 1 November 2015

Most of the five Kiwi artists Natasha Conland has picked here are known for having a sort of nomadic existence where they live outside New Zealand, often moving from residency to residency, from country to country, living as guests, borrowing a studio - maybe doing some teaching - and creating exhibitions on the spot. The title, Inside Ouside Upside Down, plays on this border-crossing aspect, an osmotic or permeable passing-through of identity-fixing membranes, transitioning from southern hemisphere to north and (eventually) back again.

Varied in their interests and media use, most of these individuals have been Walters Prize finalists and so - certainly in Auckland where they all have dealers - the personal preoccupations that they regularly explore are well known to most art punters. Consequently there are few surprises.

Which is not to say that the show is uninteresting. It is. Very. Due to Conland’s juxtaposed selections, the elaborations of her theme - the nature of physical barriers that separate the private individual from the community beyond them, the limits of the sign systems we think (internally) and communicate with, and governmental stipulations that enforce nationality - and how these artists examine them. We ponder the means of surmounting such obstacles, ways through which the five talents in their installations discover commonalities; various chains of cross connections.

Conland sets up a clever structure for all this; a row of five rooms parallel to Wunderrūma, with the entrances at opposite ends preoccupied with language (Ruth Buchanan at one (internal thought), Ronnie van Hout at the other (external communication)). In the middle space Simon Denny looks at nationhood, the development (or deterioration) of its intellectual culture as reflected in non-commercial community television, and its passport - and what that indicates about the people who possess it. In rooms two and four we find in both an interest in physical barriers: Kate Newby has a window exposed in the gallery wall so we can see - looking through her suspended chimes - the outside world of the vibrantly active city; In the other room Fiona Connor has constructed replicas of park (cyclist and pedestrian) traffic control barriers, lying on their sides devoid of functional efficacy.)

In this sequence of spaces there is a blurring of distinctions where crisscrossing ‘conversations’ link up salient aspects of different galleries. A skeletal steel-bar corner of an outlined room in Buchanan’s space (suggesting claustrophobia with a photographed text “whole days inside”) is a foil for Newby’s exposed window, while Newby’s thirty-five clusters of tactile ceramic objects on pallets mock the inadequacy of their yellow labels. These labels in return reference Buchanan’s pollen coloured curtain and a spoken text about children in a gallery touching objects they encounter in ‘an attempt to establish a connection’ and learn names.

In van Hout’s installation (No Exit II) we see Fimo letters on a shelf in front of a mirror that say ‘I’ve stopped trying.’ They are positioned opposite a video of the artist knocking on a door that is never answered - while two bays along we find a suite of panels in the Simon Denny installation critiquing the deterioration of TVNZ’s non commercial digital channel over the its trial run of March 2008 - June 2012, this due to the Key government’s lack of interest and the gradual diminishing of broadcasted local content.

This is a nicely layered, shrewdly assembled little show of ‘Walters Prize chic’, and I hope it is clear I genuinely appreciate Conland’s skill here, but contextually the project suffers from déjà vu, repeatedly, as if a needle were stuck on a vinyl record. I can’t help but think that Auckland Art Gallery should be doing far more adventurous things. There is so much great art being made beyond Auckland, that surely a national survey with artists from all the different regions would make more intelligent use of city resources. You know? Less proctological? Inside looking out.

John Hurrell

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John Hurrell, 8:41 p.m. 24 September, 2015

Here is an excellent piece of writing on the same show by Francis McWhannell.
http://pantograph-punch.com/post/review-inside-outside-upside-down

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