Melanie Oliver

Commentary
Mediating Reality

Mediating Reality

In the late 1980s, a significant shift for photography in Aotearoa New Zealand was identified in two art publications. The essays and images in these books showed how artists were utilising new strategies, breaking away from the prevailing documentary photography tradition that was, and still is, widespread in Aotearoa. Six Women Photographers (1986) was edited by artists Merylyn Tweedie and Rhondda Bosworth for Photoforum; and Imposing Narratives: Beyond the Documentary in Recent New Zealand Photography (1989) was the catalogue for an exhibition curated by Gregory Burke for City Gallery Wellington. The artists included in both publications questioned in various ways the assumptions and rules of image making, manipulating the media and making a political move from the standpoint of taking a photograph, to making one. No longer was a photograph considered a truthful representation of reality. Instead, photography was seen as a product of, and a participant in, current social and cultural values.

Commentary
James Oram: By Spectral Hands

James Oram: By Spectral Hands

In the American psychological thriller Severance, the employees of Lumon Industries undergo a surgical procedure that separates their work and non-work memories. The uncanny plot unfolds into what feels like a terrifyingly accurate portrayal of the power that corporations exert over our lives, and the integration of the self into capitalism. In this fictional world Mark and his co-workers willingly join the corporation, blind to what it is they do as part of the Macrodata Refinement team. The series offers insight into how data has become a core part of capitalism, despite the over-abundance of information in a system founded on scarcity. Further, Severance’s data sorters must categorise and file the numbers that appear on their computer screens based on their emotional response to them, rather than applying logic, thereby integrating their feelings to the digital realm.

Artist interview
New Photographs in the Collection

New Photographs in the Collection

Our new collection exhibition Perilous: Unheard Stories from the Collection features a number of newly acquired works from Aotearoa New Zealand artists that expand our contemporary photographic collection. Melanie Oliver asked a few of these artists to share their thoughts on photography and the works that have found a new home at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū.

Exhibition

Mata Aho Collective: Tīkawe

An ambitious installation that soars across the architecture of the Gallery.

Commentary
Ka Mua Ka Muri

Ka Mua Ka Muri

Our histories are always with us, but who is telling the story? The Gallery’s new collection hang, Perilous: Unheard Stories from the Collection offers up a range of different perspectives on how the past and future might intersect, and invites us to rethink how we commonly see our heritage. Here, the exhibition’s curators have each selected a work from the exhibition for a closer look.

Commentary
Alicia Frankovich’s Atlas of Anti-Taxonomies

Alicia Frankovich’s Atlas of Anti-Taxonomies

Orange peel, ant’s eye, hibiscus flower, rhubarb, bacteria, a space blob, a virus, an x-ray of a human skull – human, non-human, inhuman, entangled and disordered. In the Atlas of Anti-Taxonomies, artist Alicia Frankovich groups these things by difference rather than sameness, showing them to have dynamic relationships and visual rhythms. Consisting of over 100 images that the artist has gathered, constructed and found, Frankovich’s carefully selected and arranged collections of phenomena, beings and objects glow from lightboxes hung throughout the gallery space. Their collated, overlapping and montaged images are wild and vibrant. Their placement on the large screens feels momentary, as though this is just one iteration of many possible permutations, disrupting any typical or static taxonomical order. In making this work, Frankovich has drawn on the extensive body of research around posthuman ecologies, decolonising nature and queer theory, underscoring this beautiful exhibition with complex ideas of domination and control.

Exhibition

Alicia Frankovich: Atlas of Anti-Taxonomies

An installation de-categorising the world to reveal the wild disorder of nature.

Exhibition

James Oram: By Spectral Hands

In this major new body of work, Ōtautahi artist James Oram creates an ecosystem based on consumer capitalism.

Exhibition

Xoë Hall: Kuīni of the Worlds

A wild new mural from Kāi Tahu artist Xoë Hall celebrating atua wāhine.

Exhibition

Max Fleury and Anna Brimer: Glory

A playful video of impromptu water fountains made from everyday objects.

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