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Strange New World

Strange New World

Untitled, Martin Basher, 2006


Wellington-based artist Martin Basher has created a strange new world: a post-apocalyptic environment where a lone man joyrides his way through a deserted landscape of pine trees, shantytowns and coloured lights; wasteland of billowing smoke. Basher’s ‘Blackwater’, curated by Sarah Farrar, references contemporary politics.

Basher’s paintings are set within an installation of debris, painted trees, a beaten-up cantina (which offers ‘dining and dancing’), an oil drum and a makeshift outdoor toilet. One of the underlying messages and narratives lies in the repeated references to consumption—represented both by the human body’s use of foodstuffs (note the toilet); and of the widereaching impact of humanity’s consumption and waste of global resources. Scattered throughout the gallery are discarded food cans. A black pool has oozed out of an oil can which bears the words ‘fine dining’ and ominous black clouds billow across the sky on can wrappers and in some of the paintings.

Basher suggests a possible connection between the ‘Blackwater’ project and the Mad Max films, in which a young Mel Gibson lives in a dystopian world, the Australian outback gone apocalypse now. ‘I sometimes feel very pessimistic about our future’, Basher says. ‘I get really angry about it. At other times, I get very resigned to it and think what damn bit of difference can one person do. It’s just a matter of time before half a billion people in China get cars. When you’ve got that many new cars being introduced, or even if we just continue the way we are, that’s pretty dire and I want to talk about that.’

Biography: Martin Basher was born in Wellington in 1979. He completed a Bachelor of Arts (Visual Arts) from Columbia University, New York in 2003. Basher has exhibited his work in New York and in New Zealand. His recent exhibitions include: ‘The Party Went Off But No-One Came’ at Good As Gold, Wellington, 2005; ‘Fine Dining’ at High Street Project, Christchurch, 2006 and ‘The Western Way’ at Mary Newton Gallery, Wellington, 2006. Basher, currently based in Wellington, is about to return to New York to undertake a Master of Fine Arts at Columbia.


Paula Savage, Director, City Gallery Wellington is delighted to announce the appointment of Sarah Farrar to the position of City Gallery Wellington Curator. ‘It is wonderful to see Sarah Farrar, who has served as Michael Hirschfeld Gallery curator for two and a half years, progress to this new phase in her career. We know she will deliver energetic and challenging projects.’ Farrar is considered one of New Zealand’s leading young curators. Visual arts guru Jonathan Mané-Wheoki ranks Farrar up with Justin Paton as one of his best students.


Michael Hirschfeld Gallery, City Gallery Wellington

1 – 30 July 2006


The Michael Hirschfeld Gallery is proudly sponsored by DesignWorks Enterprise IG. Thanks also to Hamish McKay Gallery; Colourcraft; and Publication and Design, Wellington City Council.


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