Collage seems a useful metaphor for contemporary life in the digital age.
A collage disrupts accepted meanings by taking found images clipped from their original context, then mixing them up and rearranging them. It’s happening around us constantly across all media. Curator Sian van Dyk provides a small survey of the practice in Cut + Paste, on at the Dowse (until 14 July).
In the largest room of the show, a string of lady legs cut from girlie magazines wiggles up the wall in Jo Russ’s clever work Drawing with Legs (2015). Witty and carefree, the legs kick about in a joyous release from their bodies. It’s almost an animation. Russ is one of those artists to keep your eye on.
At the other end of the room, Tjalling De Vries’s Come on Doll Face (2012) has a cartoon Doll Face falling backwards through a paint portal to a parallel universe — an updated Lichtenstein. Come on Doll Face makes good connections with the nearby Jacqueline Fraser, He says John Bok’s a prophet honey (2007), and Robert Hood’s Teleplasmic mass — Prince (2007). Wow, the Jacqui Fraser work is stellar. Using media-sourced images enhanced with actual materials, it highlights the beautiful hollowness of media imagery. Hood’s work, meanwhile, is an actual Prince album cover with a speech or vomit bubble made of yellow plastic shopping bags spewing from his mouth and overtaking the whole image. Mysterious but compelling.
That was my favourite corner of the show. On the other side of the Fraser are a couple of hilarious works, The Prince of Right and Wrong (2015) and Love is love is love… is love?, a collaboration between Wayne Youle and Ans Westra. Youle is hilarious though, and in this collaboration he really works his funny stick. Over two of Westra’s black and white photographs of the 1998 protest outside Te Papa against the Virgin in the Condom, Youle has applied brightly coloured vinyl to give the protestors holy gowns and halos. It’s puerile and all that, but the resulting imagery has an adorable Mexican folk quality, and once I realised what the protest was about, it was a good smirking moment.
Cut + Paste is full of great work and all tastes are catered for. There is even a room with quite minimalist abstract works by artists such as Claire Harris and Richard Bryant beside Rob Cherry, Adrienne Millwood and Gordon Walters.
The central space of the exhibition features ‘Epic Collage’. Peter Madden is the King of Epic Collage. He spends a lot of time cutting things out of National Geographic magazines. But boy, it’s worth it. The Last City (2011) is dreamy. It’s a 3D metropolis built of balsa wood and inhabited by flocks and herds of tiny 2D animals and birds. It sparkles in a night sky kind of a way.
And I haven’t even mentioned the Daniel Crooks’ work — a wall-sized video collage. Don’t miss that.[info]
This month, City Gallery Wellington shows an interesting suite of exhibitions — Jono Rotman: Mongrel Mob Portraits, Alberto Garcia-Alvarez: Crossings, and Candice Breitz. Rotman’s large-scale photographic portraits of Mob members are confronting and fascinating. Crossings provides a look at work by a little-known New Zealand-based artist. Candice Breitz presents three major video installations by this South African artist, including the spectacular 16-channel work King (A Portrait of Michael Jackson) (2005).[/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.
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