The Bed You Lie In: New Artists Show 2004
Eve Armstrong, Kah-Bee Chow, Daniel du Bern, Finn Ferrier, Rachael Grant, Kim Paton, Marnie Slater, Louise Tulett, Tao Wells
12 August - 11 September 2004
Curated by Tessa Giblin
The annual Artspace New Artists Exhibition presents 9 New Artists, who are examining the role of the art world as a social institution.
Eve finds the magical in the everyday, innovation in junk, beauty in detritus, and reconfigures these findings within the art world. For The Bed You Lie In, Eve is making a promotional kiosk where she displays and demonstrates the innovative inventions she has collected in preparation for this show - not the kinds of inventions marketed on daytime television, but fascinating objects made by very simple means. Eve will also use the Artspace billboard as her canvas for mass marketing these products, alongside 'junk mail' to be distributed at the exhibition.
Kah-Bee Chow was responsible for her graduating year at Elam's leaving t-shirts, complete with slogans such as, All I want for Christmas is a Saskia Leek, Reuben Paterson says the nicest things, Michael Lett has perfect skin, and Kah-Bee went to Art School and all I got was this shitty t-shirt.
For The Bed You Lie In, Kah-Bee takes a close look at the situation she and her graduating peers are in. The prospect of writing a proposal for a show at an artist-run space can leave new graduates fraught with anxiety. Kah-Bee uses her stunning logic to bypass this stage in negotiations, and go straight to the commitment. On the 12th August she will launch her 'proposals' to artist-run spaces around the country.
Daniel du Bern
Wandering Jew is a noxious weed, which has embedded itself in Wellington and will now travel with Gilbert's Cartage in an art packing crate to Auckland. Stamped with no rain, no shine, the earth and Wandering Jew will spill out of the crate onto the gallery floor. Wandering Jew is an imported weed, the product of imperial colonization, so as well as talking about imported species which have a strong hold over native flora and fauna, Daniel is extending this analogy to cultural groups - Wandering Jew. He will also include a large white wall painting - 'NOHWERE' rendered in the Hollywood sign font used recently to depict Wellington city.
Daniel is also interested in the migration of ideas within the art world, and their imperial objectives - there is a statistic somewhere along the lines that a Biennale opens somewhere in the world every two days. An artist is usually funded at a Biennale by their own country's cultural agency, some of which are much better funded than others. For those countries which do invest heavily in Biennale representation, do these large group shows become a vehicle of cultural imperialism?
"Finn's the kind of guy who can pretty much point to any random slab of stone laid onto any sidewalk in the city and expect an entire history of its construction, its placement and its foundation. Finn is fantastic - I made an 'Everybody Loves Finn' shirt because it's so true" (Kah-Bee Chow).
For The Bed You Lie In, Finn is making a collection of Art Gallery souvenirs. For the fictional rock-bottom price of $5, Finn is marketing 'pieces' of New Zealand Institutions, in snazzy packages. Much like the Berlin wall, he is floating the idea that you can take away a small part of the foundations, equipment, or some aspect of the institution. Instead of a postcard of a memorable artwork, or catalogue of a memorable show, you can take away a souvenir of the institution itself.
Rachael activates discussions of the art world - of its parameters, its limitations and its diversity, through the formal use of paint and objects. Studying as a painter, Rachael has made a tree that is laden with fruits, which shrivel and dry as they leak paint onto the gallery floor. She is threading through the disciplines - by using sculpture to create painting - and setting it up as a 'natural environment' that reeks of installation. The 'fruits', made of plastic bags, gloves and cloth, resemble animalistic udders. So again she is conflating ideas of artifice and naturalism by using them in the same breath, and letting them define and represent one another.
Kim, alongside the hardy men of Fletcher construction, is building a gallery inside a gallery, restricting our passage through the space. In Artspace's small back space, a perfectly gibbed and painted wall will leave a small passage around the perimeter of the room for people to negotiate. Oreintation is peculiarly eschewed when the space is altered in this way, with sounds becoming directionless, and claustrophobia creeping around the corners. Her work has dealt with minimalist architecture in the past, and this work throws up an insurmountable barrier between the viewer and, presumably, an interior gallery.
One of Marnie Slater's projects at Enjoy was called 'My Room'. The walls and ceiling were covered in tin foil, the floor was covered in horrendously bright pink fabric, and the entrance was assisted by a pathway of wooden planks - the kind you get in national parks when either a) they are wanting to keep people elevated from the boggy mess below, or b) they are concerned for those trampers who might slip and fall into the chasm below. The leap from Marnie's path was all of 15cm, but the whole installation was so explicitly silly, it almost felt sinister. For The Bed You Lie In, Marnie is again playing with the notion of what the art world promises, how much it deceives, and how much it actually delivers. As she says, it is about broken promises. She is making a rostrum made of cheap, thin veneer with a fitted microphone, inviting viewers to have their voices amplified through out the gallery. The rostrum is flanked by two speakers, which altogether create a nice little matching podium, so sweet, but when activated, so invasive.
A hatch door hanging open from the ceiling, a handbag filled with the broken remnants of a wine glass that also emits the telltale hubbub of an exhibition opening, an exhibition invitation, and a photograph of a woman at an opening in an oddly obvious disguise. These are the clues that Louise Tulett leaves in the epilogue to an exhibition last year. The project heightens the social awkwardness that many people feel around the art world - including artists. Her work provides an escape route for the viewer's individual experience within a gallery, for the artist as performer, and for the artist as person.
Tao is taking a more literal approach to the idea of the art world as a social institution, and presenting for curatorial accreditation a series of works to be deemed worthy, or not, of exhibition at Artspace. Based on a show where a curator evaluated one of Tao's works as 'artworks', which he then exhibited alongside the 'non-artworks', Tao will exhibit both the success/s and failure/s, possibly in hierarchical order. For The Bed You Lie In, Tao will attempt to recreate the essence of each of the participating artists, using the remnants of his own past works, and objects in his studio. Tao has received a 150 wd statement on each of the artists by the curator, as well as an image that an artist may have supplied. His goal is to 'better' the original works in his re-making. Futile? Perhaps not…