Thursday 15 May 2008

Earth Mattering

Earth Matters opened at the Gallery on the 1st of May. It's a collection show with a project by Wellington-based artist Amy Howden-Chapman in the entrance-way, making a connection between work from the collection and a recent work which has strong associations to the exhibition's theme and content. Amy HC's Great Pacific Ocean Rubbish Patch Recreation is presented as a slide-projection, reflecting upon the currency (or comedy) of activism today versus its urgency in the past, she's also included a new work The Slip a photograph of an erroded hillside, mirrored below in a mock tribute to the sublime.

Also featured is one of our newest acquisitions - Maintenance of Social Solidarity - instance 5, by et al. which has a reciprocal presence at the Sydney Biennale this year.

Getting the prize for the most fondled work in the exhibition at only two weeks open is the Boyle Family's Gisborne Triptych. On show for the first time in 18 years, this is obviously still a favourite for the "how did they really make it?" punters. And it's still a magnificent work. A vitrine of newspaper clippings shows just how popular the Boyle Family's residency and exhibition were - including allusions to how tame they were by comparison to Jörg Immendorf's infamous stay just prior to their visit. For good measure Michael Stevenson's work on Jörg is around the corner, but in a new installation, with the Immendorf edited out, revealing our cyclical economic environment.

For someone who was dragged along to an ongoing series of environmental actions as a child, this exhibition was as much an opportunity to raise a rhetorical question at the collection: how does environmental concern look through the lens of the collection? And, in what ways and means does socio-political preoccupation with 'environmental decay' get reflected in an artist's practice.

Images: Amy Howden-Chapman, The Great Pacific Ocean Rubbish Patch Recreation, 2006 (video still); The Boyle Family, Gisborne Triptych, 1990 (detail)

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