Pat Unger: Passport Issue

20 June – 4 August 1996

This exhibition of new work by the Christchurch artist Pat Unger is focused around the idea of the 'passport' with the passport applicant being in this case New Zealand.

Personal characteristics for this applicant are listed as: "first to see the light, first to see the night, having frequent cold fronts, being the home of heroes and sportsmen and exhibiting the behaviour of enthusiastically promoting the national culture." The subtle irony in these abstract works challenges many of our national and artistic assumptions and attitudes and makes for a fascinating exhibition.

On a deeper level Passport Issue is also about form and content. The form is provided by the rather loose logic of the passport format. The content or meaning is realised through various snippets of reality. These stand in for the passport photograph mounted onto a page or space and layered with allusions to artistic styles and fashions. She includes bad 'white art' and bad 'black' art, the gestural brush stroke, the dribbled paint contrivance, repetition and of course the ubiquitous rubber stamp, the sign of authority's ultimate approval of identity. An identity that gives the applicant, at least temporarily, the right to be recognised.

Pat Unger who lives in Christchurch graduated from the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts in 1979 after already completing a two year graphic design course at the Christchurch Polytechnic. She has been exhibiting in solo and group shows since the 1980s and has, over the years, worked with a variety of media including acrylic on canvas or paper. In Passport Issue Pat Unger uses oil on paper for this new, innovative and challenging show.

('Pat Unger - Passport Issue', Bulletin, No.102, June/July 1996, p.2)