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Artspace New Artists: A New Generation

11 July ­ 03 August 2002

The fifth in our annual series of New Artists shows, Honestly profiles the work of six emerging artists from around the country. The geographical spread is new for Artspace. Gallery Director Hanna Scott comments, “these artists are recent graduates, new names, and most people won’t have seen their work before”.

The show at Artspace provides an opportunity for these artists to develop a new body of work, with the backing of a public gallery focussed on cutting edge contemporary art practise. What’s more, Scott argues “this show doesn’t shy away from challenging installation works. Honestly has a sculpture focus, and four of the artists have made new work specifically for this exhibition”.

While the show doesn’t have an overarching theme the works are united by an attitude: reserved, even calculated tones of understated humour and mock-serious gestures. That attitude is loosely captured in the title ­ Honestly. It suggests a level of sincerity that is understated, but that could just as easily be tongue-in-cheek.

A Wellingtonian, John Lake’s quasi-scientific video Longer Whiter Cloud documents a lava-flow of shaving cream as it erupts, endlessly and with a riveting display of textures, from marsh-mellow to mud flow. The work’s title suggests an identity crisis for Aotearoa, but it also mocks consumer culture’s language of desire.

At the opening, Kate’s House of Fashion will be staging a trade show launch of her 2003 Spring range in conjunction with Newby Models Inc. Stepping lightly between the worlds of fashion and art, Aucklander Kate Newby’s low-rent aesthetic, customised couture and commercial acumen is a deliciously ironic aside to fashion’s glossy, oversold metaphors. Her performances, installations, stickers and street posters have attracted the attention of the High Street set and Newby will be orchestrating a performance work for the opening night event.

Warren Olds’ sleek boy racer wall painting embodies the cult of customisation with flame motifs and a contrived bedroom-laboratory aesthetic straight from the boy-next-door. Working from Hamilton, he has developed a vast new wall painting for Artspace, a techno-geek shrine fit for an art gallery, generated using popular vector design programmes and auto tracing tools.

Perhaps the most bravely understated work in the exhibition is Wellington-based artist Ella Bella Moonshine Reed’s installation. It draws on the Gallery’s diffuse natural light through its conservatory-like ring of windows. Reed’s patient husbandry has produced a crafted and stylised assembly of pale-purple African Violets, atop a wooden tea-trolley - the epitome of do-it-yourself propagation. It is as if all the attention, patience and precision that goes into cultivating and propagating these domestic flowers has been poured into the installation, they are very still. Reed challenges us to catch them at growing.

Aucklander, Lauren Winstone’s corporate alter-ego, Big Wheel Enterprises, has pulled off another new installation. Trading on the vernacular of business tactics, including signage, key rings and caps, Big Wheel Enterprises’ latest initiative is a poster advertising Winstone’s audio tracks of her singing backing vocals. A big rig with it’s backing lights on is proudly photographed in the poster, another play on commodity fetishism, and it’s the only connotation of her conceptual artwork in operation.

Another Aucklander, Joyoti Wylie’s charming and disarming songs are recited in myriad voices, across 1950s telephone wires, like voices from another life and another time. Infused with sentimental and candid quotations her poetic narratives and musical compositions are laced with alternately playful and disturbing overtones.

The show will be followed by a publication that matches new writers with each of the artists. The exhibition opens 10 July at 6pm. Two artists will be presenting performance art works at the opening.

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