All is Revealed

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A photograph by celebrated New Zealand photographer, Fiona Pardington is currently displayed on a Cuba Street billboard. Pardington's work Gigi, once a possible subject for a softcore 1950s men's magazine, is now presented in a contemporary context. 

Pardington has used billboards as a mode of presentation in earlier works. This billboard refers to a particular historical event, when the banner outside Pardington's One Night of Love exhibition at Waikato Museum of Art and History in 2001 was stolen. This image is from that same series, which is part of her feminist-driven work of the 1980s and 1990s and explores and overturns gendered representations of the body. In her One Night of Love series, Pardington rephotographed found proofsheets taken for a softcore men’s magazine in England in the 1950s or 1960s. On the occasion of Pardington’s first survey show, City Gallery is symbolically returning Pardington’s One Night of Love to the public realm.

City Gallery Director Elizabeth Caldwell says, “The billboard is intended to spark public interest and to pique viewers’ curiosity in the exhibition of one our most celebrated photographers. We welcome the public’s interest and discussion about the image and the artist’s work. We encourage people to visit the artwork that is also currently on exhibition at City Gallery and is similarly presented in an unconventional way.”

Exhibition Curator Aaron Lister explains, “By selecting and rephotographing individual images from the original proof sheets, Pardington liberates these women from the pornographic context. The women are given new life in a public and contemporary context, and new narrative possibilities. In re-presenting and often renaming each woman—in this case, the subject is named Gigi—Pardington humanises and returns agency to her subjects.”

Locals and visitors alike are encouraged to view both sites on Cuba Street and at City Gallery Wellington to consider the exhibition’s themes and the artist’s exploration of gender roles and representation.

Fiona Pardington (b. 1961) is of Scottish (Clan Cameron of Erracht) and Maori (Ngai Tahu, Kati Mamoe, Ngati Kahungunu) descent. She has a Doctorate in Fine Arts, University of Auckland. In 2011, the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery hosted her solo exhibition, The Pressure of Sunlight Falling, with an accompanying book published by Otago University Press. That year, Pardington became an Arts Foundation Laureate and completed a Laureate Artistic Creations Project with Musee du Quai Branly, Paris. A Beautiful Hesitation has been developed in association with Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki and Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu. It will be presented in Auckland and Christchurch through 2016 and be accompanied by a book bringing together new and classic writings on the artist’s work, published by Victoria University Press. Fiona Pardington is represented by Starkwhite, Auckland.

Fiona Pardington: A Beautiful Hesitation, 22 August – 22 November 2015 | FREE |www.citygallery.org.nz