Mary-Jane Duffy visits Puke Ahu at Enjoy

Histories of harm

Caption: Monument to an Unknown Victim, Bronwyn Holloway-Smith, 2014

Enjoy Pub­lic Art Gal­lery has been on the cul­tur­al land­scape in Wel­ling­ton since 2000. If you haven’t been there, it’s on level one at 147 Cuba Street, and was estab­lished as an artists-run non-com­mer­cial pro­ject space.

As a pro­ject space, Enjoy is able to show work that pub­lic insti­tu­tions don’t take on. It’s a place where artists try things out — although pro­jects are rig­or­ously screened before they are pro­grammed. Don’t feel intim­id­ated if you don’t ‘under­stand’ things — it’s a com­plex, nuanced and multi-dimen­sion­al world we live in, and the exhib­i­tions at Enjoy reflect this, cri­tiquing, syn­thes­ising and enga­ging a range of his­tor­ies, stor­ies, events and ideas. It can be heady stuff.

In Octo­ber I went to the open­ing of an install­a­tion by Paula Schaaf­hausen with Suz­anne Tamaki, called Ebbing Tagaloa. The gal­lery floor was covered in Tagaloa fig­ures made from sand and coconut oil. Over the course of the exhib­i­tion, they slowly dis­in­teg­rated, melt­ing into a pool of oil and sand. The meta­phor was simple but potent.

And the annu­al Buy Enjoy exhib­i­tion is not to be missed. Artists donate work for this Decem­ber show, where everything on sale is around $125. There are always things I want, and I still think long­ingly of the Karin van Roos­malen work I missed out on a couple of years ago.

This month at Enjoy is an exhib­i­tion called The Lev­el­ling of Puke Ahu (dates tbc). It includes the work of Bron­wyn Hol­lo­way-Smith, Izzy O’Neil, Angela Kil­ford and Eli­jah Winter. Puke Ahu is the ori­gin­al name for the Mt Cook area through which Wal­lace Street runs, and the exhib­i­tion draws on his­tor­ies of the former Domin­ion Museum and Nation­al War Memori­al site.

Each of the artists takes some aspect of the his­tory as a start­ing point for their work. Hol­lo­way-Smith, for instance, found an Even­ing Post pho­to­graph of a felled cab­bage tree taken in the area in 1951 and col­laged the image into a con­tem­por­ary scene of the site, where iron­ic­ally a healthy grove of cab­bage trees cur­rently flour­ishes. The title of the work, Monu­ment to an Unknown Vic­tim, sug­gests events going on at the time — espe­cially the water­front lock-out — and what might have promp­ted this vandalism.

Izzy O’Neil doc­u­ments the sexu­al assaults that occurred on the site in 2014, includ­ing the cor­res­pond­ence between Mas­sey Uni­ver­sity and the stu­dent body.

Angela Kilford’s work is a walk­ing tour. Without judging any of the decisions made — the motor­way tun­nel, the redevel­op­ment of the site as a Nation­al War Memori­al pre­cinct — she shares her know­ledge of the site’s stor­ies and his­tor­ies. Who knew, for example, that there is a loc­al memori­al to the Pari­haka pris­on­ers who were held here before being moved to the South Island?

Add Enjoy to your gal­lery rounds.

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March Art

Con­tem­por­ary fur­niture design in New Zea­l­and is hard to find without dig­ging about. It is pos­sible to buy all man­ner of over­seas brands here, but often hard to know who is design­ing fur­niture loc­ally. Humphrey Ikin and Dav­id Trub­ridge are house­hold names, but who else designs and makes con­tem­por­ary fur­niture? This month (until 22 March) at the Dowse is Mod­ern Reviv­als, an exhib­i­tion to answer that ques­tion. It includes 20 works by Simon James, Nath­an Goldsworthy, Designtree, Well-Groomed-Fox, Dav­id More­land, Douglas and Bec, Clark Bard­s­ley, Timothy John, Tréo­logy, Tim Webber, Candy­whistle, Jam­ie McLel­lan, Duncan Sar­gent, Y.S Col­lect­ive and Fitzsimons.[/info]

About Mary-Jane Duffy

Mary-jane is a Paekakariki-based poet and essay­ist, and Fish­Head’s art colum­nist. She teaches poetry and aca­dem­ic writ­ing on the Whiyireia Cre­at­ive Writ­ing pro­gramme, tor­tur­ing stu­dents with half-rythmes and pan­toums, zom­bie haiku, and line breaks, ref­er­en­cing and struc­ture. Duffy has a back­ground in museum and gal­lery work, mak­ing a lucky escape from the base­ment of the City Gal­lery Wel­ling­ton in 2002 and open­ing the Mary New­town Gal­lery with Paula New­town in 2004. Art (across all the dis­cip­lines) feels like the closest thing she has to reli­gious exper­i­ences — see­ing, read­ing or hear­ing things that make her brain fizz.

About Mary-Jane Duffy

Mary-jane is a Paekakariki-based poet and essayist, and FishHead's art columnist. She teaches poetry and academic writing on the Whiyireia Creative Writing programme, torturing students with half-rythmes and pantoums, zombie haiku, and line breaks, referencing and structure. Duffy has a background in museum and gallery work, making a lucky escape from the basement of the City Gallery Wellington in 2002 and opening the Mary Newtown Gallery with Paula Newtown in 2004. Art (across all the disciplines) feels like the closest thing she has to religious experiences - seeing, reading or hearing things that make her brain fizz.

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