John Hurrell – 23 September, 2020
You could mutter ‘so what?' to yourself, thinking that the show's title trying to be too clever. Yet there is a nice bunch of perceptive artists here, so it is not a big thing if they are not interested in analysing consciousness. Their work in this show is Covid-focussed, not about investigating mental processes or the properties of sentience or cognition.
Anna Sew Hoy, Dane Mitchell, Edith Amituanai, Josephine Cachemaille, Paul Cullen, Laura Duffy and Aliyah Winter with InsideOUT.
Thinking About Thinking About the Future
Curated by Chloe Geoghegan
27 June - 27 September 2020
On the ground floor of Te Uru this natty little show (with seven artists) is conspicuously elegant and smart. So super-duper alert in fact that you wonder about the convoluted title: should it be split in two—one phrase at a time—only to be reconnected later on? So it is less fuzzy and overly ambitious. (ie. Thinking about thinking / Thinking about the Future?)
In this exhibition Te Uru curator Chloe Geoghegan envisages ‘the Future’ as specifically Post Lockdown. A world recovering from the catastrophic Covid-19 pandemic. It focuses on survivors looking ahead-in this country and beyond. You apprehensively assume that optimistic scenario, but anticipating too that pre-Covid ‘normality’ will never return.
You could mutter ‘So what?’ to yourself, thinking that the show’s title is trying to be too clever. Yet there is a nice bunch of perceptive artists here, so it is not a big thing if they are not interested in analysing consciousness. Their work in this show is Covid-focussed, not about investigating mental processes or the properties of sentience or cognition.
Edith Amituanai‘s subtly disturbing suite of seven large identical photographs (pasted on the wall) depicts the virus as a masked bride (Miss Rona) dressed in yellow velvet tasselled bed-spreads, and finger nails taped to her white rubber gloves. Behind this radiant but deadly apparition, on the purple wall, is row of yellow-labelled Corona beers, a ‘fuck-you’ gesture to responsible social distancing.
Typical Girls, the plinthed sculptural contribution from Anna Sew Hoy, shows a hollow spherelike head or globe made of a network of connecting ceramic armatures, some of which are wound in strips of a faded pink perforated leather that looks like Bandaids or Elastoplast. Other ‘beams’ have heavy linked chains or finer ballchains (with keys) wrapped around or threaded through, plus we can detect a tie-dyed fabric snake that ironically inhabits its interior.
Dane Mitchell‘s 2007 takeaway ‘Sense and Sanitation‘ poster has tiny print that indicates a mischievous motive, elucidating on the grim consequences of rolling snot in your fingers, touching bacteria coated electrical points, using germ breeding absorbent armchairs, not replacing screw tops promptly on bottles, and not keeping your sink and food preparation bench absolutely microbe-free.
Also in this show we have a Paul Cullen work wittily recontextualised to comment on the current crisis. Paired with mutilated and drawn-on geography books (chunks removed) projecting small blue globes take on the sinister meaning of the Covid-19 viral organism. The books represent lost scientific knowledge, vanishing know-how and evaporated analysis, the consequences of educational institutions being thwarted by the pandemic’s disruptive effects on school and tertiary communities.
Josephine Cachemaille‘s paint spattered dropcloth declares ‘I’m thinking about the things I want to change’. It gets straight to the point. No meandering abstruse philosophical digressions here, she looks at her empowering belief in her own agency—in herself and her ability to improve and help mend a disastrously damaged world. The dropcloth becomes a metaphor for potential action.
Laura Duffy and Aliyah Winter’s two channel video Party Friends looks at the disintegration of personal identity, the symbolic dissolving of facial parameters as disparate communities team up to fight a common foe. Assorted faces are digitally merged, distorted, shredded, recoalesced, organicised, geometricized and hybridised. United aims here help break down individual physiognomical characteristics in these frenetic, reshuffled, stacked and marbled collages of exploding and reassembled visages.
Although it could have done with a catalogue sheet containing an elucidatory essay tying in the significance of the works, this is an excellent show, nicely installed with lots of light and no clutter. Its varied components resonate together really well.