Sam Taylor-Wood


Media Release: October, 2006. 


High art meets Hollywood celebrity in the first New Zealand exhibition of Sam Taylor-Wood, an outstanding British contemporary artist. Sam Taylor- Wood comes to City Gallery Wellington following a showing at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.

“Sam Taylor- Wood’s photography and video places her at the forefront of the new generation of contemporary British artists including Damian Hirst and Tracey Emin. Her works are included in the collections of some of the world’s most important art museums,” says Gallery Director Paula Savage. “City Gallery Wellington is the sole New Zealand venue for this exhibition where exquisitely observed, grand scale, operatic works will both move and thrill visitors.”

From feats of physical strength and endurance to moments of introspection and vulnerability, Sam Taylor-Wood’s imagery invites viewers into a space where public and private experience converge.

Sam Taylor-Wood is an artist for whom the human subject is central. Working across photography and film, she explores the physical dimension of human experience as well as its more private, emotional side. This exhibition brings together selected photographs and film works from the mid 1990s to the present. Single subjects are presented mid action or gesture─ hovering, tumbling, falling, dancing, sleeping, crying. Her static and moving imagery is informed by art historical reference, religious iconography and the desire for a form of physical or spiritual transcendence.

From the image of a young man hovering mid air (The Leap 2001)─the first of the artist’s ‘suspended’ works─ to that of a man tap-dancing atop a prone human form, a dove improbably balanced on his head (Ascension 2003), we are introduced to a world of imagination and ambiguity.

The private realm of emotion and its expression informs much of Taylor-Wood’s art. She says: “I am interested in how humans respond and react in moments of crisis. I want to examine the physical manifestations of anxiety”.

In this exhibition Taylor-Wood presents her large photographic suite Crying Men (2002-04). Featuring twenty-seven male actors in private moments of reflection and catharsis, it presents an intimate, vulnerable portrait of contemporary masculinity while working against public expectations associated with the ‘celebrity’ persona.

The video work David (2004), commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery, London, features a languid David Beckham asleep in bed─ a portrait of this iconic sporting figure unprecedented in its intimacy and sensuality.

Sam Taylor-Wood shows alongside exhibitions by senior New Zealand artist Tony Lane’s Practical Metaphysics and upcoming artist Peter Madden’s Escape From Orchid City.

This exciting season of international and New Zealand exhibitions has been made possible by the generous support of Principal Sponsor ANZ, as Principal Corporate Benefactor of City Gallery Wellington.

Sam Taylor-Wood

City Gallery Wellington, 8 October 2006 – 28 January 2007

Exhibition initiated and organised by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney and toured to New Zealand in partnership with City Gallery Wellington