John Hurrell – 19 October, 2016
On the other side of the gallery, two woven, steel-framed works - mats on table legs - reference coffee tables and knitted rugs as domestic furniture, presenting on their upper planar surface, coloured imagery of bodies in intimate domestic spaces; these are akin to the patterned paintings of Howard Hodgkin and his subtle inclusion of rendered body parts. They feature illustrations of the world ‘out there' beyond the corporeal realm of our data gathering senses.
Never Not A Body
7 October - 5 November 2016
For this new Ruth Buchanan show the artist presents an array of suspended banners in the small Hopkinson Mossman gallery, and some sculpture, wall drawing and video in the larger space. The former seem to be about books, a codex with three readable pages; the latter about the artist’s body in a room - a contemplation of that phenomenological state.
Accordingly the ‘book’ or ‘document’ discusses the metaphorical content of the ‘building’, expanding the notion of the brain (and mind) dwelling within the body - just as a body inhabits a dwelling or room. Using a playful Steinian text that is incessantly repetitive and circular, it espouses dualism while simultaneously attacking it. After all, a body can leave a room or building, but a brain can’t abandon the body, or a mind the brain.
The design of these pages, printed into wind resistant geo-mesh so they can be presented outdoors, is fascinating. The layout - with its dominant arrows (descending down the margins) and diagrammatic spacing (so characteristic of Buchanan) - seems derived from artists like Shusaku Arakawa / Madeline Gins or Lawrence Weiner - and contemporary L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets like Steve McCaffery and Tina Darragh. It could be described as earnest with a flippant edge, occasionally lightening up the analysis by incorporating jokey puns as prepositions, like ‘inn’ where letters are repeated.
In the large gallery, three rapidly changing (and migrating) videos combine variations of the body’s age with the limitations of fleeting ocular perception, while a wavy (spray painted) wall drawing references the physics of light and Buchanan‘s often used motif, the curtain or undulating fabric screen that serves as a form of isolating (and containing) parenthesis. It is also schematically like the surface of water, and the flowing unchannelled nature of consciousness and drifting thought.
On the other side of the gallery, two woven, steel-framed works - mats on table legs - reference coffee tables and knitted rugs as domestic furniture, presenting on their upper planar surface, coloured imagery of bodies in intimate domestic spaces. These are akin to the patterned paintings of Howard Hodgkin and his subtle inclusion of rendered body parts, but transmuted through a Rosemary Trockel-type sensibility. They feature illustrations of the world ‘out there’ beyond the corporeal realm of our data gathering senses, a sculptural installation that with its small (literarily elevated) rugs conveys a self reflexive sense of mise-en-abyme.
By this mingling of two discussions (in two adjacent spaces) about perceptual cues and literary tropes, Buchanan creates a fascinating and amusing synthesis for the moving viewer, allowing them to ponder the ramifications of their own bodily participation in a readable (and walk through-able) text.
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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