City Gallery City Gallery Wellington

Past exhibition

Derrick Cherrie: Supraluxe Suite

14 October–29 November 1992

ORGANISER Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth OTHER VENUES Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, 4 July–23 August 1992; Dunedin Public Art Gallery, 10 June–1 August 1993; Waikato Museum of Art and History, Hamilton, 11 March–15 May 1994 PUBLICATION publisher Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, text Steve Danby

Supraluxe Suite is a range of beds. There's a set of full-size ones and a set of miniature ones. Stark white, they blend into the gallery space, the white-cube aesthetic. The full-size beds are made from vinyl and Formica, materials that have a strong association with 1970s modernity. The miniatures are painted wood. By placing beds in a Gallery, Cherrie explores the interplay between public and private. Cherrie's beds are at once inviting and creepy. They are hygienically clean but prompt dirty thoughts. 

Each bed is different—variants in the range. Of the full-size beds, there is one double bed and various singles. Some have headboards. There's a couch and a stool. Different items suggest different activities, situations, scenarios. The double bed represents the conventional relationship, which we are supposed to move towards. But perhaps Cherrie questions this ideal, by placing so many variations of single beds in the space, challenging the ‘credibility, security, necessity’ of the double-bed situation. The couch recalls the analyst’s office.

The miniature beds are not models for the large ones, but distinct variants. We view them from a different vantage point, standing over them like giants. But, at the same time, there’s a realisation of our insignificance in the face of consumer production.

Cherrie says the bed refers to the body. ‘It becomes a complex site of desire and neurosis, constantly placating itself with cosmetic coverups.’ He likens the vinyl covering to skin and our quest for perfection. He says, ‘My works advance the body as a fake, a social construction, not the real thing anymore, but a response to the neurotic feat of what might really be. WE CAN BUILD A BETTER YOU.’

Supraluxe Suite also links the furniture showroom to the museum as art’s showroom; art being a commodity, like beds. In Midwest, Stephen Zepke says the project undermines art’s higher moral ground by positing art as just another commodity and the museum as a just another site of consumption.

The show is accompanied by a mock sales brochure, penned by an advertising copywriter: ‘We’ve spent years developing the Supraluxe look, and at last you can share my dream. Supraluxe, a statement in style. A line of classic furniture, combining superb design and custom craftsmanship—and all at a price you wouldn’t believe!’

The Gallery two competitions. The winner of ‘Suite Dreams’ gets a waterbed; the winner of ‘Have a Suite Weekend’ gets an overnight stay in the Presidential Suite at the Plaza International Hotel. To enter the latter, visitors had to guess how many upholstery buttons were in the exhibition. The winner, Steve from Wainuiomata, guessed the exact number—114.