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.
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.
John Miller (Ngāpuhi) is a special figure in Aotearoa, having photographed protests and important events throughout the country from 1967 right up until the present moment. His work covers everything from the 1960s and 1970s anti-Vietnam war and anti-nuclear protests to the 1975 Māori Land March, 1977–78 Bastion Point occupation and 1981 Springbok Tour protests, as well as many more examples of civilian dissent. John uses the camera as a witness, capturing moments of collective voice in action, and he also honours the people who have led the charge for changes in thinking and our society. Looking at his work is like walking through our history backwards into the future. Curator Melanie Oliver sat down with activist John Minto and photographer Conor Clarke (Ngāi Tahu) to talk about John Miller’s work.
In Te Ao Māori, waiata (songs) are often used to retain memories, knowledge and whakapapa. The meditative chant that artist Aydriannah Tuiali’i performs here urges us to reflect on our ancestors, to look for sustenance and future wellbeing through our connections to the past.