Much like the car of the same name in the legendary eighties TV show, Knight
Rider, the globe-trotting collective KIT seems to be chock-full
of hi-tech wizardry, deep electronic voices (à la hal-9000)
and enough good intentions to join the fight against evil - in whatever
technologically advanced form evil may take. In this episode, set in
the darkened halls of The Physics Room, KIT takes us back into prehistory,
or rather takes prehistory back to us, for a camping trip, as it were,
in Joy riding in the Land that Time Forgot. Appropriating imagery
from the Jurassic Park playstation game, KITtransformed the
gallery space into a primordial forest scene, with a deep floor of
bark underfoot and a row of tents, illuminated from the inside and
printed with the aforementioned primordial forest scenery and sound
giving me such useful tit-bits of information as the fact that I now
am on full speed and have limited invulnerability, and the whole thing
starts to remind me of trying to find my tent at the gathering,
except it isn't raining.
I tried to think of a really clever way of linking KIT's effort to that of Toronto-based
artist Mitch Robertson, but the best I could come up with was that KIT (from Knight
Rider) was driven by David Hasselhoff, who is now better known as
Mitch, the beefcake macho lifeguard from Baywatch, and the even more way-out Baywatch
Nights. Is this the stuff that curation is made of?(Log probably
welcomes comment on this and other issues.) Anyway Mitch Robertson's latest
attempt at world domination, Red Bird Paparazzi, follows the latest adventures
of those 'cute little red birds' as they flitter around, elude that 'wily garden
gnome', pooh on your washing, and generally try their damned hardest to make
Mitch famous. I was lucky to see the man himself in action, with an anonymous
member of the KIT collective, swapping project space e-mail addresses like bubblegum
Speaking of fame, certain celebrity sleuths at The Physics Room allegedly spotted
infamous Las Vegas crooner Tony Bennett painting en plein air by
the Avon River. Rumour has it that the performer (replete with staunch looking
body-guard) was dressed in a white polo shirt, white tennis shorts, white sports
socks, and white tennis shoes, and was reportedly painting in a faux naive style.
While on the topic of art/music crossovers, avant-garde Japanese turntablist Otomo
Yoshihide unleashed his own brand of turntablism (I guess) on the hallowed
chambers of the Robert McDougall Art Gallery recently. Using such novel tactics
as a drum cymbal mounted on a turntable and played with a violin bow, Yoshihide's
serenely chaotic compositions left the old McDougall all shook up. I sat there
mesmerised as flecks of paint from the ceiling gently snowed down on me. I looked
to see the glass skylights above my head loom ominously as if they were about
to come crashing down on me, much like the guitar that nearly flattened Yoshihide
as it fell off its perch, feeding back to a speaker towards the end of his performance.
Serenely minimal and with the tense comedic atmosphere of traditional Japanese
Noh Theatre, Otomo has a unique ability to bombard the audience with what seems
like pure waves of sound. It is hard to tell if this is actually this indescribable,
or as I am beginning to suspect, the process of listening to his performance
actually targets the part of your brain that can describe what's going on and
destroys it with a little atomic explosion. Either way, emerging from the Robert
McDougall Art Gallery, I couldn't help but think that I had been sitting in a
microwave set on high, and that I had been cooking from the inside out. There
were three electronic bleeps and then they let me out the door.
Aqua is the new Kraftwerk.
Courtesy Jonathan Smart Gallery.
Right on the money with the New Age issue were Richard Reddaway and Judy
Darragh, recently showing at Jonathan Smart. Both with their own take on
a kind of intuitive organic geometry, the unlikely pairing came off with a sense
of shared purpose which worked pretty well in a kind of slap-dash thrown-together
kind of way. Reddaway hit the ground running. Delivering three or four works
on the way up the stairs, this guy means business, or rather, this guy means Disco.
Yep. The mirrors are back, this time mounted on Joel Shapiro-esque groupings
of wooden blocks and attached to the wall. This was vintage Reddaway, but where
are the little men that I recall being unimpressed with all those years ago?
They don't seem too far away. My guess is that they are doing John Travolta à la Saturday
Night Fever strut moves...
Judy Darragh, still in fine form, presents life at a more sedate
pace - but still, I suspect, on the same drugs. Either an acid flash-back
or a tribute to the late, great Frederick Hundertwasser, or even
perhaps both, Darragh presents us with a series of beautiful romantic landscapes,
waterfalls and forest scenes, punctuated by a flurry of stuck on labels,
dots, and price tags. Strangely cinematic, these images remind me more
of the yellow brick road than the yellow submarine, and despite their hallucinatory
nature retain a quaint innocence about them and perhaps present some kind
nostalgia for lost youth.
Speaking of lost youth, Boyd Webb has finally hit the McDougall. For all
the innocence and ambiguity of Darragh's images, Webb seems a little precious,
and his straight-forward comes off as a little too didactic. Even so, the works
have a quaint Englishness about them. Not surprising, considering that he left
the most English city south of Rangiora for the real thing long ago. The early
works pile on the Monty Python bottom humour, something which I'm not
sure entirely works, but I'm finding hard to complain about. Most of the work
from the mid-eighties becomes much of a muchness, as all the work starts to look
like an all-too-clever Greenpeace campaign, but things lighten up later
In the more recent works, like the one where the fillet steak has run-in with
the barbed wire in the psychedelic oil slick, the images become richer and more
abstract and some have the added bonus of being light-boxes. These are a little
nicer, but over all, Webb's work only manages to get maybe one-and-a-half thumbs
up, as the show loses its momentum through sheer repetitiveness of the images,
perhaps exacerbated by the Robert McDougall and its 19th Century salon-style
galleries. This seems to bring out the worst in the images, making them perhaps
even more contrived than they really are.
But what really bugs me about Webb's images is that they seem to lack some kind
of relevance, especially when compared to the likes of Judy Darragh's images
with their immediacy almost to the point of urgency. Perhaps it is the blatant
environmental ideology, something that requires direct action, communicated by
Webb through an extremely indirect and mediated technique. I can't help but think
that Webb is only adding to the problem by using this ideology as a smoke screen
so that it is see what he is really on about. And that's pollution. Bit
of a double standard really.
And finally, everybody's favourite marauder from the north is in town. Billy
Apple, like a cross between Mel Bochner and that fat guy from E!'s
Fashion Emergency, has come to teach CoCA a lesson. 'Censure, the Given as
an Art Political Statement', comes off more like a decree from the inquisition
than a minimal installation, although it is kind of pretty in that way that nuclear
submarines are pretty.
Compared with a nuclear submarine, Billy Apple's work is the more spacious option,
with only the smallest of interventions to interrupt the grandiose modernist
architecture that is CoCA. Small interventions, but applied with an iron fist.
The first room contained a shape like a deranged necktie, make from red string
stretched between nails suck in to the floor with an air hammer. Apparently this
had something to do with painting the walls red in another gallery across town.
I wonder why he didn't. Good manners can get you anything.
The second work, for the Robert McDougall, couldn't be done because there was
a Luddites meeting on at the same time he wanted to install the work, and they
confiscated his power tools. This work, one of my favourites, consists of a single
nail in the centre of the McDougall's marble floor with a little red circle around
it. It even looks good at CoCA.
Work like this make you look at the details and the details were there. Evenly-spaced
flood lights on the lighting track, and residue from a very hurried-looking paint
job were the best ones. I guess it's hard to use a paint roller with those heavy
The third, a work conceived especially for CoCA, sit is in the back end of the
gallery where they normally have probably the worst painting shows ever anywhere.
The paintings as you would figure, sit on two long picture rails, which Billy
Apple has Censured. That is, he has painted them red. Billy Apple has issued
an ultimatum, either: (a) leave them painted red for all eternity, (b) remove
the damn picture rails, (c) wimp out and paint them white again.
This is like CoCA getting a celebrity make-over, only instead of options you
get an ultimatum and you can't take an art gallery on a hot date. Anyway I'm
on the edge of my seat and I just can't wait to see the next show at CoCA, so
that I can find out what's going to happen to the picture rail.
Daniel Arps is a Taurus [Dragon] who enjoys Thai cookery and long walks on
beach. He lives and works in Christchurch.
Log Illustrated apologises for not printing Mr Arps' last
c-town round-up properly. He was the blameless victim of a small team of
adept blame-avoiding, but highly adequate magazine-makers. He ended up looking
all arty and illegible
and we are quite sorry. It is there in full on this website if you are interested.