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Tribute to NZ video pioneer Darcy Lange at Ikon

Tribute to New Zealand video pioneer Darcy Lange at Ikon Gallery

: Darcy Lange
Ladywood Comprehensive School, Birmingham
Image: Darcy Lange Ladywood Comprehensive School, Birmingham 1976.

Media Release

December 10 2008

Tribute to New Zealand video pioneer Darcy Lange at Ikon Gallery

The most comprehensive display of Darcy Lange’s Work Studies in Schools has opened at Ikon in Birmingham, UK.

Lange (1946-2005), an experimental New Zealand video artist, had his first solo exhibition at Ikon in 1971, marking the beginning of an association with Birmingham that was to foster some of his most significant artistic breakthroughs. Ikon, itself housed in a former school, now revisits Lange’s work by focusing on his Work Studies in Schools, 1976–77.

In 1976, Lange embarked on the school studies series with support by colleagues Phil Slight and Ron Jones, lecturers at the School of Art Education. With video equipment from the institute Lange documented three city schools – Leabank Primary, independent boys’ school King Edward VI and the former Ladywood Comprehensive – each with a distinct social identity. Initially regarded by Lange as a continuation of his Work Studies, an ongoing project documenting people going about their daily working lives, the school studies series soon revealed a broader analysis of the education system at this time and how it reflected wider political realities.

Lange’s Work Studies in Schools are remarkable not only for the unique picture they offer of school life in the 1970s, but also for their critical response to the tradition of documentary film-making.

Making the most of the new technology at his disposal, Lange played the video back to his subjects, recording their responses to it. For most of those involved this was their first opportunity to see themselves on screen – a revelatory experience.

The exhibition is co-produced with Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, and co-curated by Govett-Brewster contemporary curator Mercedes Vicente and Ikon curator Helen Legg.
Co-curator Mercedes Vicente says: “Lange had a remarkable early career; he enjoyed the recognition of critics and curators as well as his artist peers. He was very much part of the 1970s international avant-garde and video art scene in London and New York, however he remained a marginal figure in New Zealand.”

This Work Studies in Schools series has been restored by the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery with assistance by the New Zealand Film Archive and the generous support of Ikon.

A monograph on Darcy Lange has been produced and features essays by Guy Brett, Benjamin H.D. Buchloh, Dan Graham, Helen Legg, Lawrence McDonald, John Miller and Geraldene Peters, Pedro G. Romero and Mercedes Vicente. It is co-published by Govett-Brewster Art Gallery and Ikon and will be available at the Govett-Brewster Art & Design Shop in late December.

Work Studies in Schools continues until 25 January 2009.


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