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Bloom mutation, toxicity and the sublime

Bloom mutation, toxicity and the sublime
Govett-Brewster Art Gallery
13 December 2003 - 26 February 2004

The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery will open a major international exhibition of contemporary art on 13 December. Bloom: mutation, toxicity and the sublime, explores the disturbing yet compelling fascination of the monstrous associated with genetic engineering, mutation, the development of cybernetics and toxic environmental change.

This exhibition, the latest in a series that examine topical developments in contemporary culture, features an array of leading contemporary artists who respond to ethical issues resulting from scientific progress and its negative side effects. These side effects include the emergence of new diseases, the release of toxins and lethal viruses into the environment and food chain and global warming with its associated fears of dramatically altered eco systems, hurricanes, flash floods and rising sea levels.

The artists approach these issues from a philosophical perspective, for example Brazilian artist Eduardo Kac creates a synthetic 'artist's gene' for his work Genesis to question the dubious notion of humanity's divinely sanctioned supremacy over nature. This work was featured in the 2001 Yokohama Triennale, while a number of other works come direct from this years Venice Biennale, including the very popular work of Australian Patricia Piccinini concerning stem cells and the production of new life forms.

The artists' philosophical views introduce contemporary angles to 18th and 19th century notions of the sublime as seen in Shelley's Frankenstein, Carroll's Alice in Wonderland or the painters associated with the tradition of the Romantic Sublime. The catalogue also refers to popular culture and the ongoing interest in mutation evident in such films as Spiderman and X Men and asks the question as to why the "monstrous" continues to be so fascinating.

The exhibition has been curated by Gallery Director Gregory Burke and features many major names in international contemporary art, such as Saskia Olde Wolbers (Netherlands), Magnus Wallin (Sweden), Denise Kum (NZ/UK), Boyd Webb (NZ/UK), Christine Borland (UK), Hany Armanious (Australia), Patricia Piccinini (Australia), Susan Norrie (Australia), Jun Nguyen Hatsushiba (Vietnam/Japan), Motohiko Odani (Japan), Tamami Hitsuda (Japan) and Eduardo Kac (Brazil).

Len Lye: gene pool, works from the collection
Govett-Brewster Art Gallery
6 December 2003 - 4 March 2004
Gene pool, works from the collection takes a fresh look at the way Lye underpinned his practice with 'scientific' theories about the world. Lye's kinetic sculptures, photograms, doodles and film work are re-examined in the context of gene theory. Over the course of his career, Lye developed a symbolism that combined 'old brain' thinking, machines and Pacific motifs that kept in step with science and technology development. Lye endlessly strove to discover the essence of what made an artist's brain tick.

Fiji Biennale Pavilions
Govett-Brewster Art Gallery
6 December 2003 - 7 March 2004
Auckland artist Mladen Bizumic presents Fiji Biennale Pavilions, a project resulting from his position as the Gallery's 2003 artist in residence supported by the Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki and Creative New Zealand. The project investigates the cultural politics associated with World Expos and international art Biennales and the way they often become sites for official government agendas rather than artist driven cultural production. These events reflect the dominant world order despite recent theories about globalisation and the diminishing distance between the First and Developing worlds. By conceptually locating his Biennale in Fiji, Bizumic makes the South Pacific the centre-of-attention and suggests that a new world Biennale could still offer a utopian vision of internationalism and creativity.

For further information, please contact:

Joely Ham
Curator, Public Programmes
Govett-Brewster Art Gallery
Private Bag 2025, Queen Street
New Plymouth
New Zealand
Ph: +64 6 758 5149

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