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JH

Seymour’s Feline Billboards

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Ava Seymour, I’m Here For The Butterflies, 2022 (installation view, Reeves Road), photo by Sam Hartnett Ava Seymour, I’m Here For The Butterflies, 2022 (detail, Reeves Road), photo by Sam Hartnett Ava Seymour, I’m Here For The Butterflies, 2022 (detail, Reeves Road), photo by Sam Hartnett Ava Seymour, I’m Here For The Butterflies, 2022 (detail, Reeves Road), photo by Sam Hartnett Ava Seymour, Story of Love, 2022 (installation view, Parnell Station), photo by Sam Hartnett Ava Seymour, Story of Love, 2022 (installation view, Parnell Station), photo by Sam Hartnett Ava Seymour, Story of Love, 2022 (installation view, Parnell Station), photo by Sam Hartnett

Unfortunately the ubiquity of pet food advertisements on roadside billboards and armchair television might be seen to drain away the specialness of Seymour's project. However her use of black and white gives them an ‘arty' classiness, for the contrasting tonal values do provide a formal drama, even a gravitas. And the images are big.

Te Tuhi Billboards

Auckland

 

Ava Seymour
I’m here for the Butterflies & Story of Love
Curated by Andrew Kennedy


25 September 2022 - 27 November 2022

Along Pakuranga’s Reeves Road: three grumpy moustachioed ‘old men’ (like Statler and Waldorf of the Muppets) seem to be looking at artworks in the gallery (fluttering ‘butterflies’ that ascend, out of reach, only to fall short, wither and die). The enlarged feline visages entertain with their cantankerous glares, delightfully exuding short-fused irritability, but inevitably cute as well.

On the other side of town beside Parnell station, we see something quite different: three lean young shorthaired cat bodies, extremely elegant in profile, looking over their shoulders down the line in both directions, eagerly anticipating carriages of arrivals (or showing sorrow—or maybe even relief—at departures) who are possible lovers.

Unfortunately the ubiquity of pet food advertisements on roadside billboards and armchair television might be seen to drain away the specialness of Seymour‘s project. However her use of black, gray and white gives them an ‘arty’ classiness, for the contrasting tonal values do provide a formal drama, even a gravitas. And these images are big.

Or is, on the other hand, her exploiting of the pathetic fallacy (giving pets humanlike emotions) a bit corny? (Can cats love?) Enthusiastic followers of ‘cat psychology’ are bound to disagree.

Bear in mind though that Seymour knows how to make very disturbing and provocative (even offensive) images, as her much earlier, Hoch-influenced, collages show, so these sweet and cuddly images might be a trap—claws withdrawn but ready to pounce—to remain conveniently hidden just for a while.

John Hurrell

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