John Hurrell – 25 August, 2011
Sarah Ortmeyer's downloaded black and white photographs and readymade floor sculpture doesn't demonstrate any technical facility yet her work is the highlight, deftly (because of Hopkinson) linking up with Connor, So and Mangan. Her four items conceptually focus on the laurel wreath given to victors in competitive events.
Fiona Connor, Nicholas Mangan, Sarah Ortmeyer, Renee So
Curated by Sarah Hopkinson
3 August - 27 August 2011
As a show which deals in unusual hybridic combinations, Vandelay Industries’ four artists juxtapose unexpected elements within pictorial and architectural gallery space.
Renee So’s woven painting could be a blanket on a stretcher, but one carefully composed and packed with allusions to Russian Orthodox priests, Babylonian wall reliefs, tangrams, and comic strip drawing. A clever blending of incongruous costumes, curly beard wigs, blue eye make-up and the light bubbling ambience of lilting music, So’s quirky graphic sensibility is a valuable component of this show, a subtly cheeky, linear foil to the more earnest dominant photography.
Fiona Connor’s fake Mexican postcards (one wire stand leaning, the other freestanding and swivelling) deal in images of two forms of Mexican architecture: pyramids and post offices. The former are in stacks of multiple sendable postcards, the latter in thick cardboard singles, wrapped in cellophane and numbered to reference for easy purchase at the counter. The stand, an object which transforms the gallery into an ersatz tourist venue.
The other two artists also have conceptually connected, multiple elements on the walls or floors. Nicholas Mangan uses a set of three coloured photographs to suggest the existence of a fake Pueblo archaeological site in Santa Fe being plundered for sellable building materials, and hidden inside a concrete block shed. We see a dig gridded up with coloured string and pale stone cubes removed. One part could be a quarry, another ruins from an ancient dwelling.
Sarah Ortmeyer’s downloaded black and white photographs and readymade floor sculpture doesn’t demonstrate any technical facility yet her work is the highlight, deftly (because of Hopkinson) linking up with Connor, So and Mangan. Ortmeyer is a German artist. Her recontextualised four items conceptually focus on the laurel wreath given to victors in competitive events. Such a leafy crown is the logo for the sports clothing promoted by thirties tennis star Fred Perry: there is a poolside image of him and his then girlfriend Marlene Dietrich. There is also a shot of Bobby Fischer, chess champion, wearing one after he defeated Boris Spassky, thirty years later. And there is a detail from Ingres’ famous 1806 portrait of Napolean on his Imperial Throne, again wearing a laurel.
On the floor is another work by Ortmeyer, a laurel made of tourist souvenirs, assorted Eiffel Towers threaded over a wire hoop. Initially reviled when erected in 1889, the Eiffel Tower is now the unchallenged symbol for both Paris and France - the ultimate brand. The small replica towers on the sculpture are sold by African immigrants at the foot of the real thing, many being imported fakes sold alongside ‘authentic’ French tourist commodities. The work coordinates nicely with Connor’s self-printed postcards, So’s rendered Babylonian beard-wig and Mangan’s fake Pueblo site.
This show is a clever piece of thoughtful assembling by Sara Hopkinson. Initially a bit dry, its humour (coming mainly from So’s inclusion) slowly dawns on you over time.
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