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Alex Monteith Consumes The Govett-Brewster Spring

Alex Monteith: Accelerated Geographies Consumes The Govett-Brewster This Spring

A major survey exhibition featuring mesmerising, ambitiously-scaled video installations by Alex Monteith, one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most arresting younger generation artists, will open at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery on Saturday 25 September.

Several multi-channel works, up to 15 metres in width, will absorb the Gallery spaces in a whole-of-Gallery encounter. Monteith currently features as one of four finalists in this year’s Walters Prize at the Auckland Art Gallery, New Zealand’s most prestigious contemporary art award for outstanding achievement.

Importantly, Accelerated Geographies will premiere Monteith’s most recent project, shot at the spectacular location of Dip Flat in the South Island with the Royal New Zealand Air Force. The artist worked closely with the No. 3 Squadron during Exercise BLACKBIRD 2010 which includes alpine SAR (Search and Rescue) training. Also included is Monteith’s elegiac meditation on surfing shot in 2009 at one of Taranaki’s foremost surfing beaches, Stent Road. Entitled Red Sessions, this vast work featured in the 4th Auckland Triennial presented earlier this year.

Gallery Director Rhana Devenport, curator of the exhibition, said; ”Alex Monteith has the rare ability to penetrate the physical and psychological terrain of performative action, her engagement with specific communities associated with highly addictive adrenaline-fuelled sports is particularly compelling. Her empathetic ability to work with and shoot alongside high performance practitioners in so many fields results in art works of tremendous beauty, power and magnetism.”

“Alex Monteith’s time-based works offer audiences a direct and real-time encounter with speed, slowness, endurance and high performance using a visual language of remarkable compositional clarity and powerful scale. Motorcycle racing, free surfing and aerobatic flying are all investigated as Monteith brings her intimate knowledge of these activities and communities into the realm of art.”

Devenport notes; “This is only the third time in the Gallery’s 40-year history that the entire Gallery has been dedicated to a single artist, Monteith follows Leon Narbey in 1970 and Peter Robinson in 2008 in creating an immersive transformation of the entire Gallery. The Gallery takes seriously its role in offering these important project opportunities to exceptional artists from Aotearoa New Zealand.”

Alex Monteith has been actively involved in arts practice and discourse in New Zealand and internationally; winning the Arts Foundation New Generation Artist Award in 2008. Monteith was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 1977 and moved to Palmerston North, New Zealand in 1987 with her family. In 2001 Monteith completed a BFA in Photography, an MFA in Intermedia and the Time Based Arts and a DocFA at The University of Auckland’s Elam School of Fine Arts. She currently lectures at Elam School of Fine Arts. A competitive surfer for six years, Monteith was the Irish National Women’s Champion in 2001, and has competed on the New Zealand national circuit.

To accompany the exhibition, the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery will publish a much-anticipated monograph that adopts a comprehensive view of Monteith’s practice. Along with commissioned essays by Jon Bywater, Danny Butt, Jan Bryant and Rhana Devenport, the book will gather material from diverse genre-specific sources including surf and motorcycle magazines, photography and blog culture.

This exhibition is curated by Gallery Director Rhana Devenport. This publication has received major support from Creative New Zealand while the development of new works in the exhibition have been supported by The University of Auckland’s Elam School of Fine Arts.


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