City Gallery Wellington presents Encounter 1, Elisabeth Pointon: What Goes Up., Unravelled, and Věra Chytilová: Daisies, 30 November—13 April 2020 | Free entry
On Saturday 30 November, City Gallery Wellington opens the second half of its summer season with Pygmy nuptials, astronavigation, petrified twine, metal shavings, and sky writing.
The first in a series of exhibitions juxtaposing artists exploring the theme of encounter, Encounter 1 sees Auckland artist Michael Parekōwhai paired with Congolese-Belgian musician and filmmaker Baloji.
Parekōwhai’s two figurative sculptures—a life-size astronaut in a spacesuit sporting a NASA emblem and a Tino Rangatiratanga one, and a maquette Māori security guard—bear resemblance to something out of Gulliver’s Travels. Both are presented alongside Baloji’s music clip Peau de Chagrin/Bleu de Nuit (Heartbreak/Night Bruise) (2018), which was shot during his residency at Lusanga International Research Centre for Art and Economic Inequality in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The clip is based on a Pygmy marriage ceremony. Baloji explains ‘Many shots depict an absent partner, which implies that one of them has gone back on their promises; changed their mind. The film illustrates this allegorically, showing the two protagonists alone in their wedding finery in front of the ceremonial installations.’
Chief Curator Robert Leonard came across Baloji in the 2018 Sydney Biennale. Leonard notes ‘I chose to combine Parekōwhai and Baloji as both are here concerned with the other as unreadable. An astronaut and a security guard; a bride and groom. Who knows what’s on the other’s mind?’
Elisabeth Pointon: What Goes Up.
Works made for the sky are brought into the gallery. Satirising stock advertising rhetoric, Wellington artist Elisabeth Pointon has had small airplanes tow her generic, grand-claim banners: SPECTACULAR. and BIG DEAL. The show features the banners and video documentation of her aerial performances.
Senior Curator Aaron Lister says ‘Elisabeth’s work is everything contemporary art is told it should be: accessible, inclusive, engaging, playful—but there’s also an absurdist, critical edge. You are never exactly sure whether you are in on the fun or the butt of the joke.’
Twine set in cement, draped-carpet assemblages, stretched and distressed grids, a mound of metal shavings. For those who like their formalism a bit informal, Wellington’s Isabella Loudon and Kirsty Lillico, Napier’s Martin Poppelwell, Auckland’s Peter Robinson, and Melbourne’s Kerrie Poliness explore the possibilities of decomposition and disorganisation.
Věra Chytilová: Daisies
Czech new-wave director Věra Chytilová’s experimental feminist feature film follows the anarchic exploits of two young women, both called Marie. The flirty, doll-like women prank gullible old men, conspicuously consume, and speculate on their existence.
This feminist film—once banned in its homeland for the wanton waste of its hedonistic food fights and milk baths—screens four times daily in the Gallery’s auditorium.
A rebuff to the bleakness of life in communist Czechoslovakia and now over fifty years old, Daisies is a time capsule, from which to consider feminism here and now.
City Gallery invites the public to hear opening-day talks on Saturday 30 November at 2pm: Elisabeth Pointon with Robbie Handcock on What Goes Up., Kerrie Poliness on her work in Unravelled, Steve Carr on Chasing the Light, and Chief Curator Robert Leonard on Encounter 1.