ARTISTS Dan Arps, Douglas Bagnall, Wayne Barrar, Steve Carr, Bekah Carran, Maryrose Crook, Bill Culbert, Mark Curtis, Judy Darragh, Shona Rapira Davies, Don Driver, Scott Eady, Jacqueline Fraser, Dick Frizzell, Darryn George, Eugene Hansen, Ralph Hotere, Sara Hughes, Lonnie Hutchinson, Hye Rim Lee, Linda James, Paul Johns, Douglas Kelaher, Sean Kerr, Shigeyuki Kihara, Maddie Leach, Peter Madden, Daniel Malone, Liz Maw, Warren Olds, Neil Pardington, Sarah Jane Parton, Seraphine Pick, Phil Price, Peter Robinson, Ian Scott, Waroonwan Thongvanit, Yvonne Todd, Francis Upritchard, Ronnie van Hout, Ruth Watson, Wayne Youle CURATOR Emma Bugden ADVISORY BOARD Mark Amery, David Cross, Eugene Hansen, Sophie Jerram, Tracey Monastra, Sophie McIntyre, Gregory O'Brien, Lara Strongman, Mark Williams PARTNER Adam Art Gallery, New Zealand Film Archive, Massey University SPONSORS Telecom ONLINE PUBLICATION essays Tobias Berger, Gwynneth Porter, Ian Wedde
City Gallery presents the second iteration of Prospect with work produced in the past three years by forty-three artists. Four—Bill Culbert, Sean Kerr, Phil Price, and Seraphine Pick—return from last time. Until the opening, the lineup is a guarded secret. In his Listener review, William McAloon writes, 'Bugden's list was treated as though it was a New Zealand Idol result, kept secret by the gallery until the day the show opened.'
Pluralism rules. The show is an eclectic pick’n’mix, encompassing senior figures, mid-career artists, and newbies, and diverse practices and media. Curator Emma Bugden calls it 'an unruly beast’—a 'show about people, networks, relationships, and conversations’.
This time, Prospect spans multiple venues, including the Adam Art Gallery, New Zealand Film Archive, and Massey University. There’s no printed catalogue, but there is an online one, which includes critical responses to the show and e-cards of selected works to send to friends. Punters can download venue information, maps, and post their own views on the show.
The first Prospect took Gavin Chilcott's Cult Effigy, a giant blossom-covered swan, as its hero image. This one has Scott Eady's Dahlia—a pink my-pretty-pony, blown up from a child’s toy to life size. In Art New Zealand, Marcus Moore writes, 'The poster ... features Scott Eady's pony … to signify this exhibition's character: fun and a little quirky. Though at risk of appearing as naive as this pony is plasticised pink, this was no innocent choice for curator Emma Bugden, who was perhaps seeking to provide a humorous and welcoming spirit, to ensure the art gallery would not be seen by the general public as an esoteric zone.'
In the foyer, Sara Hughes’s vinyl dots run riot, spreading 'like a hyperactive virus and creating a hallucinogenic and trance-like effect’. Upstairs, Sarah Jane Parton’s music video She’s So Usual finds the artist posing self-consciously in a 1980s-era ball gown, singing along, karaoke-style, to Cyndi Lauper’s hit ‘Time after Time’.
Galleries are loosely themed. There’s a 'portrait gallery’, where Playboy-centrefold–meets–abstraction paintings by an unreconstructed Ian Scott are presented alongside young Liz Maw's bogan surrealism. Another gallery is titled 'A Convulsive Beauty’ (quoting André Breton’s ‘Beauty will be convulsive or not at all.’) It features works that set a 'contemplative' tone including Peter Madden's intricate sculptural collage The Unbuilt Realm of Indeterminapolis, Shona Rapira Davies Raising the Taniwha sculptures , lit wall works by Lonnie Hutchinson, and more.
A ‘dystopian' gallery includes a multimedia installation by Ronnie van Hout, On the Run, developed while he was in Wellington on the Rita Angus Fellowship. In On the Run, viewers enter a wooden 'jail cell'. Through its window we see a pristine New Zealand landscape. The artist has escaped, leaving behind a model of himself, as if asleep—a decoy. A prison warden in his office—another self-portrait 'dummy'—peers at a monitor, oblivious. Using technology provided by sponsor Telecom’s Advanced Solutions team, audiences can text or email messages to the warden, which appear on a computer screen in the installation.
Media attention focuses on an unlikely work, Et Al.’s Rapture (2004), upstairs at City Gallery—an old outhouse or portaloo reverberating with the sounds of a braying donkey and French nuclear testing at Moruroa. The installation also includes ominous graph projections and a mule-deity sculpture. When it's announced that Et Al. will represent New Zealand at the next Venice Biennale, it prompts endless philistine media opinion pieces, taking potshots at ‘the donkey in a dunny’ and ‘lavatory art’.
The Adam Art Gallery includes sprawling installations by Bill Culbert and Judy Darragh. There’s also Ralph Hotere White Drip, a riposte to broadcaster Paul Holmes’s description of UN Director Kofi Annan as a ‘cheeky darkie’. The title is a literal description: in the work a dribble of white paint runs down shiny black corrugated iron. But the hit work is Mark Curtis’s Ultra Glister—a twinkling patterned carpet of gold and blue glitter, which calls up comparisons with Tibetan sand mandalas, royal decor, and gay nightclubs. In the Listener William McAloon writes, 'there are a few emerging artists in Bugden's line-up, but only Mark Curtis, author of the glitter carpet at the Adam, seems quite ready to be here’.
The Film Archive showcases moving-image-based works by VJ Rex, Hye Rim Lee, Douglas Bagnall, and Daniel Malone. Malone’s Mythopoeia: There and Back Again (2004) explores the Lord of the Rings phenomenon. For Bagnall's A Filmmaking Robot, Wellington Stagecoach buses host small cameras, recording their travels around Wellington suburbs. When each bus returns into the city, the footage is automatically uploaded to Bagnall's robot via local telecommunications company City Link’s wireless broadband. The work presents two projections: the robot’s ‘dreamings’ (its thought processes, as it sifts through material) and the finished films. Bagnall says, ‘It makes sense to make a robot that performs the role of the artist, freeing the artist to dwell on something else.’
Prospect 2004 doesn’t include a kitchen sink, but it does have an ice-skating rink. Produced in partnership with Petone company York Refrigeration, Maddie Leach’s participatory work is presented at Massey University's Grand Hall. It's so narrow, it can only accomodate one skater at a time.
Marcus Moore writes in Art New Zealand, 'The exhibition is on terms with what City Gallery might believe is its obligation to a greater Wellington and to its chief sponsor Telecom: “keeping people in touch”. Works that might be offered for their challenging, complex differences are, instead, ultimately diffused by the apparatuses that exist to inform, educate, and “sell” the show: promotional material, elementary wall panels, public programmes, and the website.’ Or, did he mean ‘defused’?