John Hurrell – 19 April, 2016
These striking modifications have a minimalist, Zen, and highly meditative ambience, though the work is motivated by an interest in the décor and trends of landscaping and garden design. Its salient features reference certain elements Drayton has discovered locally in the Pakuranga region. With the rounded arch doorway in the trellis and the airy diagonal grid there is a vaguely Spanish or faux Moorish feel, especially with its spaciousness, bright sunlight, cast shadows and lack of vines or creepers - all made incongruous by the brown brick walls of the original Te Tuhi building.
Alex Monteith, Caroline McQuarrie, Monique Jansen, Rangituhia Hollis, Charlotte Drayton
The Hive Hums with Many Minds: Part One
Curated by Bruce E. Philips
12 March - 24 May 2016
The two contributions to this show from Rangituhia Hollis and Charlotte Drayton have a slightly different inflection from the works of Monteith, McQuarrie and Jansen. More to do with ‘culture’ than ‘nature’ - though there is a sizable cultural component in the others as well.
Drayton’s installation is a major transformation of the outside courtyard space that in the past has been used by artists like Bruce Barber and Sally J. Morgan. This time the ground is covered with a thick layer of crushed shell, a path of square concrete paving stones is installed along one edge, and a high trellis positioned along another, painted an Alabaster White. There is also in the centre a transplanted L-shaped hedge made of kapuka (griselinia), intended as a sort of magnet to entice you into bodily exploring the space.
These striking modifications have a minimalist, Zen, and highly meditative ambience (like a raked gravel garden), though the work is motivated by an interest in the décor and trends of landscaping (its history and ideational transmission) and garden design. Its salient features reference certain elements Drayton has discovered locally (and commercially available) in the Pakuranga region. With the rounded arch doorway in the trellis and the airy diagonal grid there is a vaguely Spanish or faux Moorish feel, especially with its spaciousness, bright sunlight, cast shadows and lack of vines or creepers - all made incongruous by the brown brick walls of the original Te Tuhi building. Slightly humorous and ironic, it nevertheless has an appealing uplifting delicacy within its sparseness, a very pleasant space that can’t be denied.
The work Oho Ake (Wake Up) that Rangituhia Hollis presents is in contrast, dark, noisy and frenetic: a three channel projection on a long wall. It looks at traumatising life in the suburbs, and features in its animation a giant moving creature - consisting of a cluster of flax baskets jammed with traditional Maori and Pacific Island weapons and tools - crawling insectlike up high-rise or weatherboard walls and scuttling over rooftops. It represents local resistance to the overwhelming forces of modernist architecture and city planning, the many forms of globalisation initiated by western culture.
Exploiting a surround sound set-up with musical collaborators Shannon Coulomb and Daniel Campbell-McDonald, Hollis’ film (made with the help of students at Manurewa High) uses a sequence featuring various locations, such as an apartment block in Auckland’s CBD he had as an art student, the lounge of his current Orakei home in suburban Auckland, fifties weatherboard houses in rural locations, long night-time drives in a Ford Cortina, the back seat of that car, and a blurry, brightly coloured, inner body experience with multiple voices and electronic beats. It’s highly complex in its layering.
Hollis’s clambering creature, a robotic, spiny, multi-appendaged spider/weta, appears in several of these scenarios and is a symbol for indigenous independence and pride. It refutes modernity and its evolving forms of industrialisation, but perhaps is futile, having little long-term impact - being continually kept at bay, on the outside surface. Visually impressive but…
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