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Like Teen Spirit: Justine Kurland’ at Artspace


Smells Like Teen Spirit

‘Justine Kurland’ at Artspace, 16 October – 9 November 2002

Returning to Auckland in October, New York photographer Justine Kurland will be unveiling 11 new works created whilst artist in residence in Auckland last year.

Exploring the rites of passage from teenage girldom to womanhood, Justine Kurland unearths an evolving mega race and places them in her all-girl-world, set against the dramatic landscapes of the parks and West coast beaches of Auckland.

Justine Kurland’s tableau-photographs offer a mythical world inhabited by sprite, adolescent girls.

Kurland describes her work as a form of propaganda, deliberately projecting an idealized vision of femininity. “I stage photographs of teenage girls, imagining they have run away from home, gathered together, forming packs in the woods where they live like wildlife. I imagine a world devoid of men, where girls are independent and free, where perfect moments follow one after another. At the same time I create this narrative, I allow it to unravel, so the pictures have only a trace of my directorial hand. Ultimately these photos are about how the girls interpret my request for paradise.” – Justine Kurland

Working with young women from Saint Cuthbert’s and Auckland Girl’s Grammar schools, Kurland was interested in watching their own responses to her narrative and let the images unravel, rather than confine them to a predetermined ideal.

A native New Yorker, Kurland graduated from Yale University and since, has staged an array of solo exhibitions ranging from the prestigious art fair, the Venice Biennale to the hip London gallery White Cube. Her work has been widely published in Vogue, Time Out New York, Artforum, Flash Art and New Zealand’s own Pavement.

Following the success of the exhibition at the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Photography, Kurland’s work will be on show at Artspace from 16th October until 9th November.

Presented with the support of Elam School of Fine Arts, Auckland University.

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