Keir Leslie – 26 September, 2013
The arrangement of plastic tat echoes traditional flower arranging, but at the same time sharply misreads and misuses that tradition. It also projects onto Taiwanese culture a tacky cheapness that is not, in fact, a property of that culture, but rather a construct of Western power that has, until recently, placed Taiwan into peripheral relationships within an economic world-system that prioritized certain forms of manufacture in certain places.
Part Two Preview: Here Comes the Drunk Monk
7 September - 21 September, 2013
On one wall, a bright pink tube spins slowly, on each rotation making a falling squeal, a child’s version of a siren. Running down the green wall, a cable drops to the floor before a brief horizontal passage to the battery lying on the carpet. In the middle of the room, a low, square white plastic stool, like you might find in a laundry, supports a purple bucket filled with colourful plastic and foam tubes. Pared back and deliberately, casually, correct, the install reveals a sophisticated sense of space and composition, adeptly exploiting a Sydenham front room.
Mat Logan recently spent three months in Taiwan at the Taipei Artist’s Village early this year, on an Asia NZ Foundation residency. This show presents a sample of the work coming out of that residency in Christchurch at Glove of Idle Bone. Self-consciously positioning itself as a preview, or teaser, for a forthcoming show elsewhere that will display that body of work in more depth, Part Two Preview also comes after Logan’s display of that practice in Taipei. Playing off this in-between-ness, the show almost operates like a skit on a rap record, existing as a game-like moment between two more serious endeavours.
Glove of Idle Bone is a return to the 183 Milton Street project by Christchurch-based gallerist Tim Middleton. But where 183 Milton Street treated the lived in house, the dwelling, as a site, Glove of Idle Bone presents itself as an empty room. In a city where living space is at a premium, the gesture of the empty room is harsh, revealing the extent to which all spaces rely on a material support.
Like 183 Milton Street, Glove of Idle Bone is domestic. And this domesticity is not simply a matter of site. The shows that Middleton has presented have been domestic in scale and concern — Ben Lander’s intimate collages, Logan’s household wares — while the openings have been hosted in impeccable style by Middleton, who performs hospitality with the easy grace of an expert. Still, Glove of Idle Bone is a chillier project than 183 Milton Street, and there is a strong note of the domestic gothic.
As (to some extent) a representative of New Zealand, Logan’s work in Taipei considered the relationships between New Zealand and Taiwan, and the cultural contacts and differences. The arrangement of plastic tat echoes traditional flower arranging, but at the same time sharply misreads and misuses that tradition. It also projects onto Taiwanese culture a tacky cheapness that is not, in fact, a property of that culture, but rather a construct of Western power that has, until recently, placed Taiwan into peripheral relationships within an economic world-system that prioritized certain forms of manufacture in certain places. The spinning noise-maker both directly parodies Len Lye, but also, in its determined circularity and rotational noisemaking, calls up Julian Dashper’s drumheads and vinyls.
If we pursue that reading, the show as a kind of record, then this is a tight track, with some well-placed guest vocals by Idle Bone.
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