Log Illustrated - a publication from the Physics RoomLog 14 - Life and Death
Log 14 - Life and Death

Auckland - Dylan Rainforth


Typically unprofessional: I never did get round to seeing the Marti Friedlander show. So, you’ll have to ask someone else about that, or read Art New Zealand or something. Grahame Sydney’s been open for a while now but I’m not exactly busting my ass to get down to that either. Bright Paradise has just come down, and I think someone else has already ‘done’ that, so that all makes my job a whole lot easier.

Cuckoo has been and gone again, this time roosting up at AUT’s Pilot gallery and featuring shows by A.D. Schierning, Lauren Winstone, and Graeme McFelin, with the last supported by those darlings of the town, (rock band) Xanadu. High-octane representational politics formed the platform for Schierning’s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Foxes (as in foxes, dig), a stripped down version of a show originally created for Melbourne gallery TCB. Fast cars, doll-ish girls, and a Coca-Cola monster in heat didn’t quite add up to the reading most of us seemed most ready to find. Which is to say that, in Schierning’s video, the young lady poised on the hood of the red sports car laughs when the monster sprays her with Coke (I think you can see the masc/fem breakdown at work here): a move which saved Schierning’s piece from toppling over in to didacticism. This was, however, at the expense of any kind of clear position. Cake-and-eat-it critique?

Log Illustrated centrefold artist Lauren Winstone handcrafted three sleeping bags for her wistful show Ovlov. Two bags lying side-by-side implied intimacy (cf. Gonsalez-Torres’ pillows), which was complemented by the handiwork = time = labour-of-love element and the suggestiveness of the letters OVLOV (close to but not quite love) embroidered into one of the bags. The hand-made nature of these things was also at odds with the kind of conspicuous consumption or stolid engineering connotations of the show’s palindromic alter ego Volvo. A third sleeping bag, coiled in its cover, may have suggested the potential of other possibilities, as if it could rise snake-like from its basket.

Demonstrating humour and generosity, 7psi by Graeme McFelin took advantage of the show’s date to celebrate his partner Diane’s birthday: streamers, helium balloons, a banner and a cake mingled alongside more obvious art objects. Obvious, that is, if one accepts the wonders of Graeme: a trouser-leg and shoe falling through the ceiling (Paul Simon: "one man’s ceiling is another man’s floor"), or a bowl of vegetables carefully arranged to suggest Archimboldo (though for me never quite congealing, like those damnable magic-eyes). Three wonky-ass small white canvases-sans-frames, upon close inspection turned out to be elaborate latex imposters complete with painted-on staples. 7psi refers to a pressure half that we enjoy at sea level, a lightness akin to sucking helium: a kind of giddiness where perhaps we don’t fall through the floor but float up through the ceiling.

"Back!!! Caught you looking for the real thing, check out this I bring’" Rm3 has reincarnated downtown in a swishy little office space overlooking the Showgirls dancing Hollywood robots and is now known as Rm401. A capacity crowd turned out for the christening, jamming in, appropriately enough, to a show that didn’t so much blur the boundaries between art and life as seem unable to locate them. The fame game: pre-memorabilia - yes, no capitals - where Macky Dugan, Georgie Hill, Ben ‘Jammin’’ Buchanan, Ruth Buchanan (incest or coincidence?) and Juan Rubén "I’m the brains behind this outfit" (and the looks!) Reyes created a rambunctious environment where one might just be tempted to feel famous (thee internal state being paramount and all). It was quite a party.

Hip Hop Hooray! Daniel Malone has won the Waikato Society of Art award for Perfect Pitch: wall-sized digital photos of a spray-painted cricket pitch in the Auckland Domain. Sprayed yellow text referring to other kinds of pitch (33 1/3, 45, 78) scooped the prize of $10,000. The gallery also purchased the work. Rock the bodyline!

Prole Art Threat - or "Lie Dream of a Casino Soul"? A case of getting 30 points for naming your show after the Fall and then losing 50 for spelling it out on the invite. Terry Urbahn’s latest at Anna Bibby Gallery presented two videos and an assemblage of objects, photos and video stills in a democratically ‘flat’ fashion. A collage of photos, clippings and video stills in specimen bags (yeah, I know, I didn’t expect to see that again either) amongst institutional (night class, polytechnic or borstal?) table-top jotting boards covered in distracted scribbling, plus some attractive old light shades (the red-herring?) created a field where links and associations could be played out. Doing most of the ‘work’, two videos reflected concerns with power dynamics. A backch@t-style interview turns into a threatening situation and discussion of voodoo, while on the other screen a man pursues a woman from his car as the radio plays popular hits. A discussion of power, intention and action seemed to run through all these elements. Libidinal drives and the death wish are plausibly at work behind the prole/art-making process, which is in itself nothing new to assert. But Urbahn, without sermonising or ‘talking down’ to these traces of the collective unconscious, allowed the audience to compare and contrast the objects of his field study for themselves.

Flesh and Fruity, the newbies show at Artspace, seemed to be broadly divided into those concerned with process and those with corporeal and social agendas. In the first camp: Darren Glass uses frisbees as pinhole cameras with results similar to Gavin Hipkins’ abstractions; Meagan Blake painstakingly constructed big paintings from pencil shavings and small ones from the graphite grounds; Brigid Mclaughlan created elaborate white paintings where the original ground was black bitumen. Similarly concerned with surface and sub-surface, Rohan Wealleans performed exploratory surgery on layered paint surfaces. Wealleans’ work, inspired by the x-rays used in the conservation of some musty old McCahon works was also entertaining when considered in feminist terms. Titled Wound, the gashes in the thick paint surfaces were undeniably cunt-like.

In the body-art/socialist school, Stuart Shepherd made wax castings of kitschy ornamental figurines and then sets light to them, videoing the results. Cultural clichés literally dissolve before our eyes as the Virgin, a Chinese worker, a female bust and a grinning Moor melt away. Jae-Hoon Lee stridently animated digitally stitched-together scans of body features. Also on the cutting-edge digital tip, Jodi Stuart provided entertaining diversion with Leisureware, a Cosmopolitan-meets-Doom computer game. I hate surfboards and so was at a disadvantage with Roger Mortimer’s Maintenance, a Bayeux Tapestry-style engraving of modern times - WINZ, relationships, etc - probably good work but for me somehow aggravating. So: some catchy gimmicks (which, so often, is half of this art thing anyhow) in a solidly curated show.

Log Illustrated would like to welcome Dylan Rainforth to the post of Auckland roundup writer. Long may we sail in him.

The window of Wah Lee-the-grocers’ shop in Hobson St Auckland, July 2001.
Photo: Layla Rudneva Mackay.



Log Illustrated - a publication from the Physics Room