The Devil’s Blind Spot
Te Puna o Waiwhetu Christchurch Art Gallery has a long-standing tradition of curating exhibitions of emerging and early-career artists. We do this in order to contribute to the ecology of the local art world, as well as because – quite straightforwardly – we’re interested in the practices of artists at all stages of their careers, and would like to bring the work of outstanding younger artists to wider public attention. The Devil’s Blind Spot is the latest in this ongoing series, but unlike earlier exhibitions, it’s concerned with a single medium – photography.
Not Quite Human
Lara Strongman: The title of your new work for the Gallery is Quasi. Why did you call it that?
Ronnie van Hout: Initially it was a working title. Because the work would be outside the Gallery, on the roof, I was thinking of Quasimodo, from Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. I was coming out of a show and research around the idea of the freak, the outsider and things that are rejected—thinking about how even things that are rejected have a relationship to whatever they’ve been rejected by. And I called it Quasi, because it’s a human form that’s not quite human as well. The idea of something that resembles a human but is not quite human.
When we asked Tony de Lautour to produce a new work for the Bunker—the name Gallery staff give to the small, square elevator building at the front of the forecourt on Montreal Street—he proposed a paint scheme inspired by Dazzle camouflage. Associated with the geometric near-abstraction of the vorticist movement, Dazzle was developed by British and American artists during the First World War to disguise shipping. It was a monumental form of camouflage that aimed not to hide the ship but to break up its mass visually and confuse enemies about its speed and direction. In a time before radar and sonar were developed, Dazzle was designed to disorientate German U-boat commanders looking through their periscopes, and protect the merchant fleets.
Senior curator Lara Strongman spoke with Tony de Lautour in late January 2016.
Twenty days in China and Japan
After ten days in China—where we visited an artist’s studio in a half-empty compound of 140 multi-storey buildings, a private museum of antiquities in a sky-scraper and a tiny artist-run space in a hutong (alleyway), and met writers and curators and art dealers and collectors all over Shanghai and Beijing, with a side trip to Nanjing—I wrote an anguished note to myself: how will I write an article about all this that’s not just a list?
Jonathan Mane-Wheoki: teacher
There are some teachers you remember all your life: extraordinary individuals who view learning as a boundless source of energy, both for themselves and their students. This sort of teacher has not only total command of their subject, but an infectious enthusiasm for it that transmits itself to the minds of others. Teachers like this create advocates for their subject. They impart knowledge, but more importantly they show you a way of being in the world. It's a rare teacher who teaches you how to learn, but Jonathan Mane-Wheoki was one such individual.