The all pervasive busi-ness of the Christchurch arts community has
provided an action packed line up through the winter months: lots on
and lots to come including films, festivals, art . . . performance .
. . performance art . . . films, festivals, and more art.
An unexpected drawcard of the Canterbury Film Festival was the opportunity to
watch Passolini's controversial Salo: 120 Days of Sodom (minus its stolen
ending), a seminal piece of film history rarely available here, even in the second
decade since its making. Within its conspiratorial circles of perversion, shit,
and blood Salo certainly lived up to its reputation proving to be both extreme
and extremely worth watching.
Another international phenomenon which recently graced Christchurch was London
based artist Simon Biggs. Working as the Artist in Residence at Canterbury University,
Simon drew upon local talent to model as his naked angel-like-floating-forms
which were the basis for his technohappy installation Magnet at the Robert
McDougal Art Annex in June/July. Magnet had a kind of black-and-white ceremonial
beauty somewhat reminiscent of Christine Webster's Black Carnival installed
in the same space not so long ago. However, Simon's installation had added techno-features
of projections and audience interaction: changes of movement within the dual
projections of figures and parts of figures, triggered by somebody-anybody stepping
into a spot of light.
Simon also teamed-up with Fiona Gunn for a successful collaboration at the new
High Street Project as part of the currently running Lots series. Simon
and Fiona's separate and combined contributions culminated in an untitled installation
involving an up-side-down see-saw contraption and two books. Thinking into
an Empty Chamber by Fiona and The Reading Room by Simon, were a collection
of images and sometimes highly personalised texts sourced from email correspondence
between the artists. The books were mediated by a see-saw framework which also
negotiated the space, and in turn was negotiated by the reader: invited to do
so by chairs-for-sitting-and-reading placed next to the books at either end of
The Lots series, which was kicked off with Codename:Frieda by Violet
Faigan and Duane Zarakov, aims to encourage a variety of artists to collaborate
with other more-or-less established, more-or-less artists. Other shows in the
series have included Space by Sean Kerr and Mike Dunn, combining an actual
and a virtual gallery experience; Mute by Paul Sutherland and Brian McMillan
(a somewhat rushed rehash of past work but still with a nice feel); and Disgusting
Dioramas by Ronnie Van Hout and Jemma Upritchard with a touch of indoor/outdoor
taxidermy, model landscapes, model men, plastic farm animals, and real-life sand
The Fiat Lux films Shadows and Smog, based on the Auckland line-up Shadows
and Fog outlined in last issue of LOG, were screened to an appreciative
audience at the University Free Theatre. There was a lot of low budget, low tech
work from the Auckland region, the highlight for me being the dancing crocodile
in David Townsend's Danse Classique and Graham McFellin's untitled work
featuring a stuffed dog with a waggly tail. Unfortunately the majority of work
did not have the edge over the best of the similarly made, fast, fun, experimental,
mainly low budget work prevalent at the 10th Wellington Fringe Short Film Festival
in July (which I was lucky enough to attend in a brief sortie north of Christchurch).
Most excellent was Jon Baxter's very funny splatter comedy movie Frigid and
also enjoyable was Paul Swadel's `pretentious art film' number Protection
(His). Cameron Ross' animated Monster 3D Robots was well received,
along with Simon Howden's more experimental contribution of filmic working drawings
in On the Way Home.
Both Ann Shelton and Joyce Campbell have separately returned to Christchurch
for their first shows here since their collaboration Pink Bits at High
Street last year. Ann coincided her Red Eye show at the Robert McDougal
Art Annex with the launch of her beautiful Red Eye book: the images from
the book forming the basis of enlarged laser copies which constituted the exhibition.
Meanwhile, across the way at The Physics Room, Joyce Campbell and Michael Harrison
presented Hosting, featuring lovely photographic growths by Joyce and
bad painting/subtle voyeurism by Michael.
For those with a bent for tech-no mediums, Saskia Leek's Pink Furniture was
a notably sleek painting show at the Jonathan Smart Gallery. Similarly refreshing
was some of the work in the Canterbury School of Fine Arts Student drawing exhibition
at the S.F.A. Gallery, Between a Process and a Work; revealing some new
and old faces, their drawings and writings.