2 - 31 July 2011 in the Hirschfeld Gallery
Gabby O’Connor has created a room-scale iceberg form, which emerges from the light-well in the Hirschfeld gallery ceiling. Entirely constructed from tissue paper, which the artist has dyed blue and stiffened with shellac, the semi-opaque sculpture captures the natural light which enters the room overhead and transforms the gallery beneath into a blue-saturated space. What Lies Beneath asks what happens when we physically bring the landscape inside, how it is civilised and tamed, domesticated, and what remains unknowable and deeply intimidating.
Room-sized, the iceberg works in dialogue with the architecture of the gallery. Literally wedged in the ceiling and bisecting the gallery, it stages an encounter between an imagined landscape, a handmade form, light, and the built environment. Light is integral to the physical experience of the work. The raw daylight coming into the gallery will be augmented with artificial fluorescent lighting, so that the viewer enters an environment richly suffused with blue, and is ‘submerged.’
At a time when we are becoming increasingly aware of global warming and climate change, and what it means for humans, the melting of ice occupies a sensitive place in the collective consciousness. One of the projected impacts of climate change is a rise in average sea level, due in part to the melting of land-based ice. The gallery installation projects this possibility onto a physical space, where we are imagined underwater.
Hand-making the work, O’Connor appropriates a wide range of skills from other aspects of her process-based practice, which includes jewellery making, work with textiles, set design, and many collaborative projects. She approaches the construction of this vast structure as she might the making of a small diorama, origami or even a garment. Directly engaged in the making, she was aware of being part of the work in terms of an investment of energy and time spent, which was for her also a kind of meditation. Her low-fi process offers a subtle rejoinder to images of intrepid male-dominated arctic exploration; this is a DIY expedition for everybody.
The making of this work can be traced on http://gabbyoconnor.wordpress.com/.
‘An Iceberg in the Gallery’, will feature Gabby O’Connor in conversation with NIWA oceanographer Craig Stevens, discussing this project and Stevens’ work in Antarctica. This will take place on Friday 15 July, 12.30pm.
Gabby O'Connor will share more about her project as a presenter at Wellington LUX Symposium 2011, at Massey University of Wellington, Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th July 2011. Wellington LUX 2011 is an intensive two-day symposium with an associated exhibition that explores the intersections of light, space and interaction. To find out more about LUX, and full weekend programme, visit http://lux.org.nz. Registration for the symposium is now open.