John Hurrell – 28 July, 2021
In fact the title and marketing is false advertising, which oddly I'm happy about. Of the 26 artworks, only eight incorporate plastic—probably I'm guessing, the result of a failure of nerve in these ultra eco-conscious planet-friendly times.
Curated by Heather Galbraith
19 June - 5 September 2021
In this survey—of Judy Darragh‘s recent work, selected by Heather Galbraith—I was expecting a show consisting entirely of plastic sculpture, something (due to my love of assemblage artists such as Don Driver) I’m personally quite interested in. Darragh, surely, would be expected to have an interesting viewpoint. She could come up with an expository presentation looking at the material. Draw out some argument on the politics (or otherwise) of plastic.
In fact the title and marketing is false advertising, which oddly I’m happy about. Of the 26 artworks, only eight incorporate plastic—probably, I’m guessing, the result of a failure of nerve in these ultra eco-conscious planet-friendly times. (The fact of being recycled doesn’t stop them from being celebratory.)
Nevertheless it is a nice show—maybe overloaded with six works too many, but nice. And Galbraith in her teeny-weeny mini-essay tries to link Darragh with the French philosopher Catherine Malabou, but Malabou is really only interested in plasticity. That and ‘the fold.’ A little more elaboration on what these two women have in common might have helped. If it is the case that they do, then it’s a missed opportunity to persuade.
Still indisputably, in this selection there is some thrilling, very tasty, artwork: a couple of lovely big juicy exuberant paintings on video banners, particularly Spotter (2012); three Arman-style Perspex encased collections of empty cigarette boxes (that illustrate smoking’s horrid consequences) and plastic balls, Smoke (2020); three witty Marclay / Pound influenced collages (using found magazine photographs) about the make-up industry and many women’s daily ritual, Sirens (2020); two clever (none too subtle) vulvic—‘central state’—sculptures about fetishism, Stiletto (2021) on the wall, and on the floor, Pelvic, (2021); two wonderful blurry coloured digital photographs, Stroke (2021) and Crunch (2021), the former using a nearby freestanding sculpture of stacked foam rubber rolls; and two fabulous works celebrating heaps of shiny high-saturation raucous plastic: Choir (2021) on the wall, and Mono (2021) on the floor.
This travelling exhibition is a good presentation to spend decent time with, to allow wandering back and forth and comparing. However, I suspect it will look a lot better in CoCA in Ōtautahi Christchurch, in the upstairs Mair Gallery where there is heaps more room. There are two freestanding diagonally-aligned exhibiting walls that meet in an acute corner, and in the South Island they (and the ultra-high stud) will be more effective at drawing out the best in Darragh‘s wide-ranging colour-adoring (yet toxically aware) projects.