Photography is often spoken about in relation to memory or the past; in this exhibition two series by Hungarian photographer Mari Mahr catalogue a place outside of time. Two Walk in Paris and Two Walk in Edinburgh—sixteen photographs, each accompanied by text from Wellington poets Gregory O’Brien and Jenny Bornholdt—are about the acts of walking and talking, and most significantly, looking through cities together.
Acutely observed and elegiac, these works continue the autobiographical pursuit which characterises Mahr’s photographic practice. They are inventories of conversations, tools and objects intimately known, as well as a record of the watchfulness inherent in all close relationships. While these images adopt the intimate perspective of places explored on foot, they do not present recognisable locations. Rather, they bring together constructed scenes in which each element is drawn from the lexicon of a longstanding personal relationship.
These are all recent works, dating from the time when Mahr’s late husband Graham Percy first became very ill. Percy was a New Zealand-born artist, illustrator, typographer and designer, and many of Mahr’s images directly reference his graphic work, incorporating tools or materials he used. These are re-phrased in the context of the two cities of Paris and Edinburgh, positioned as private monuments to his presence and work. Much of Mahr’s photographic work is concerned with architectural forms and constructions; here it is the architecture of grief at stake. Collage-like, Mahr’s methodology is one of salvage, holding on to and making visible that which remains.
Mari Mahr: Two Walking is an exhibition partnership between City Gallery Wellington and Gus Fisher Gallery, The University of Auckland.
Born in Santiago de Chile in 1941, Mahr studied and worked as a press photographer in Hungary, before moving to London in 1973. She now divides her time between there and Berlin. In 1989 she received the Fox Talbot Award. She has exhibited widely and produced a number of books, A Few Days in Geneva published in 1988, and the retrospective volume Between Ourselves in 1998. Her work is in many collections, including the V&A, London; the National Media Museum, Bradford; Kettle's Yard Gallery, Cambridge; the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris; the National Museum of Photography, Hungary; the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; and the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Japan.
Mari Mahr Artist’s Talk with Poetry
Wednesday 16 February, 6pm.
Admission $10 (includes a glass of wine on entry)
Curator’s Tour—Graham Percy and Mari Mahr
Friday 4 March, 12.30pm
Artist’s Response to Neil Pardington and Mari Mahr
Saturday 5 March, 2pm