16 January – 22 February 1998
Kirsty Cameron, Shane Cotton, Tony de Lautour, Giovanni Intra, Saskia Leek, Michael Morley, Séraphine Pick, Peter Robinson, Jim Speers and Ronnie van Hout.
With recent box office receipts showing that New Zealanders make more than 14 million visits to the cinema each year, it seems timely for the McDougall Art Annex to present Now Showing, a 'widescreen selection' of ten of the country's rising young artists ‒ all making a personal salute to the movies.
The exhibition concept was developed by Robin Neate, an artist and writer whose own work has often reflected aspects of popular culture and in particular, film. Kirsty Cameron, Shane Cotton, Tony de Lautour, Giovanni Intra, Saskia Leek, Michael Morley, Séraphine Pick, Peter Robinson, Jim Speers and Ronnie van Hout, who do not normally work in the photographic medium, were commissioned to take photographs to celebrate 100 years of cinema.
Giovanni Intra's work Bungalow #3 Chateau Marmont, West Hollywood is based on the drug related death of actor John Belushi. Taking a cynical look at the ambiguous fragility of life on film, Intra says: 'The whole of Hollywood is one big mass grave for all those dully glowing stars. People have probably died on every available square inch four times over.' Kirsty Cameron, whose work Queens of Outer Face consists of a series of photographs of polaroids of drawings makes a poignant femage 'an ode to all those girls on film who got less than they desired, the nameless girls and their uncelebrated debuts in cheap, stained films.'
The more sinister aspects of cinematography are exposed in Peter Robinson's work, which focuses on Leni Riefenstahl's Nazi propaganda film Triumph of the Will. Displaying the camera's devastating power to brainwash, the Nazi torchlight processions become mythic fantasies of abstract patterns of sight and sound. 'In the opening sequences of the film Hitler descends like a God from the sky upon the Nuremburg masses. This image made a lasting impression on me and and inspired the frequent use of the aeroplane in my own work.'
Séraphine Pick acknowledges cinematic classics such as The Blue Angel, Blue Velvet and A Streetcar named Desire, creating a world in which personal relationships are suffused with the grand emotions of the big screen and images dissolve into each other like a series of slow fade-outs. With 'works which glow with the light of a hundred half-remembered movies,' Pick plugs into the poignant nostalgia these old movies inspire: 'I saw my first movie on the bigscreen in the early 1970s from the Russell Town Hall. I saw lots of B-Grade horrors. I was really too young, but it was fun to dress like you were older and try to get in.'
So buy a tub of popcorn and sit back, the lights are dimming, the reels are rolling and the show is about to begin.
This exhibition was held at the Robert McDougall Contemporary Art Annex in the Arts Centre.
Robert McDougall Art Gallery - Contemporary Art Annex