Dunedin has been ablaze recently at the hands of a serial arsonist,
sending the stench of burnt out buildings across the central city, and
fuelling rumours of a Daniel Malone copycat artist at work in our midst...
The conspiracy theories have been given added credence by reports that
a prominent artist/musician lost extensive "documentation" of
his work in one of the blazes. Local art paparazzi were even spotted
milling around expectantly at several fire sites, cameras on hand.
Away from the media spotlight we discovered He's in My Room, an installation
by recent graduate Kylie Symister at an old warehouse deep in the heart of Dunedin's
industrial zone. One negotiated a path through a demolition furniture yard, and
into a wide open space, sparsely decorated with intermittent areas of activity:
a photo sequence of a man tripping over his briefcase; a collection of framed
Christ reproductions. Around the corner hung a mosquito net reminiscent of a
giant veil, enclosing a wooden table that displayed three handmade toffee boxes
containing fruits pierced by shards of glass. Icing sugar footprints stalked
the room, reminding us of the elves prints sneakily left by Mum and Dad around
the Christmas tree. An industrial sized pile of jellies shaped like plastic meat
trays balanced on another table in the centre of the room, periodically falling
into the still space, to land sloppily on the floor.
At the Public Gallery for a dose of art glamour we viewed Melbourne artist David
Rosetzky's Society Lite. Rosetzky, one of the founders of artist-run space
First Floor was in Dunedin for a few weeks as the DPAG's artist in residence.
Seen at all the right places, Rosetzky managed to coerce all the right people
to act in a series of imitation CK1 spreads and neo-eighties music vids. DPAG
curator/barfly Gwynneth Porter starred alongside Honeymooner/art spunk Jonathan
Nicol, who strutted his stuff in Blanchet suits to the tune of Depeche Mode's Everything
Counts in Large Amounts.
Sharing the limelight with Rosetzky last month was Dutch artist Jan Van Der Ploeg,
in town to install a series of paintings at the Public Gallery, and also at the
Honeymoon Suite as part of Julian Dashper's Abstract Abstract exhibition.
Jan's visit provided extra fuel for Dunedin's overactive gossip mill when he
was arrested outside the city's premiere alternative venue relieving himself
in full view of passing traffic, a practice apparently `quite normal' in Holland.
Also at the DPAG currently is Communion, the latest crash and burn videos
from the archives of Fiat Lux. The package made for riveting viewing, despite
the fact that at times the videos on offer seemed more like installation components
than stand alone movies.
Violet Faigan had us whooping for more as she spun country records, knocked back
whisky like it was water, and shed gallons of "tears, stupid tears." Graeme
McFellin's hypnotising video Mind and Memory Development was like a distopian
version of the Muppet Show, hosted by a long haired puppet guru whose soothing
monotones lulled viewers into complacent obedience. Highlight of the day for
us had to be the neo-Gothic offerings of Fiat Lux aficionados Megan Dunn and
David Townsend: Spellbound, an angst-ridden graveyard melodrama courtesy
of the Sky City Sinners, and Dunn's The Forest, which features the best
use of a Cure soundtrack you're likely to come across for some time.
Finally, a brief roundup of the latest pearls from The Honeymoon Suite, now closed
for summer holiday. Just wrapping up at the time of writing is the Suite's funded
series Softcell. The works in the series have demonstrated wide ranging
approaches to the utilisation of communication technology as a subject matter,
from the techno-wizardry of Danny Butt and Sean Kerr to the techno-boganism of
the Sky City Sinners, whose incongruous bottle of `Internut' pills provided a
sceptical humour often missing from self professed `new media' exhibitions. The
curators of Softcell have managed to avoid the temptation to prostate
themselves at the altar of Technology, while still recognising the relevance
of a technology based show in a city most often renowned for its `grunge' aesthetic
and isolationist expressionism.
Miles Long and Candy West