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Sarah Smuts-Kennedy at RM

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Sarah Smuts-Kennedy, Star circuit : Heart circuit  (Events within Boundaries), 2016 as installed at RM. Photo: Sam Hartnett Sarah Smuts-Kennedy, Star circuit : Heart circuit  (Events within Boundaries), 2016 as installed at RM. Photo: Sam Hartnett Sarah Smuts-Kennedy, Star circuit : Heart circuit  (Events within Boundaries), 2016 as installed at RM. Photo: Sam Hartnett Sarah Smuts-Kennedy, Star circuit : Heart circuit  (Events within Boundaries), 2016 as installed at RM. Photo: Sam Hartnett Sarah Smuts-Kennedy, Star circuit : Heart circuit  (Events within Boundaries), 2016 as installed at RM. Photo: Sam Hartnett Sarah Smuts-Kennedy, Star circuit : Heart circuit  (Events within Boundaries), 2016 as installed at RM. Photo: Sam Hartnett Sarah Smuts-Kennedy, Star circuit : Heart circuit  (Events within Boundaries), 2016 as installed at RM. Photo: Sam Hartnett Sarah Smuts-Kennedy, Star circuit : Heart circuit  (Events within Boundaries), 2016 as installed at RM. Photo: Sam Hartnett Sarah Smuts-Kennedy, Star circuit : Heart circuit  (Events within Boundaries), 2016 as installed at RM. Photo: Sam Hartnett Sarah Smuts-Kennedy, Star circuit : Heart circuit  (Events within Boundaries), 2016 as installed at RM. Photo: Sam Hartnett Sarah Smuts-Kennedy, Star circuit : Heart circuit  (Events within Boundaries), 2016 as installed at RM. Photo: Sam Hartnett Sarah Smuts-Kennedy, Star circuit : Heart circuit  (Events within Boundaries), 2016 as installed at RM. Photo: Sam Hartnett Sarah Smuts-Kennedy, Star circuit : Heart circuit  (Events within Boundaries), 2016 as installed at RM. Photo: Sam Hartnett Sarah Smuts-Kennedy, Star circuit : Heart circuit  (Events within Boundaries), 2016 as installed at RM. Photo: Sam Hartnett Sarah Smuts-Kennedy, Star circuit : Heart circuit  (Events within Boundaries), 2016 as installed at RM. Photo: Sam Hartnett Sarah Smuts-Kennedy, Star circuit : Heart circuit  (Events within Boundaries), 2016 as installed at RM. Photo: Sam Hartnett

For me the wall drawing is the thing. It is a very rich and absorbing array of clustered lines, spread out with all sorts of compressing - and dissipating - tensions where the knotted and unravelling ‘threads' are squeezed together. Smuts-Kennedy in her booklet calls this wire wall 'Incoherence' but the overall image has a definite sense of compositional order and considered placement. It is not aleatoric.

RM

Auckland

 

Sarah Smuts-Kennedy
Star circuit : Heart circuit (Events within Boundaries)

 

9 June - 25 June 2016

In this unusual installation that extends over the period of Matariki, Sarah Smuts-Kennedy presents on one wall a sort of ‘painterly’ (in a Cy Twombly sense) relief sculpture made of different coloured heavy fuse wire, knotted and looped and repeatedly crinkled, spilling out from holes in the MDF. It is like a drawing of obsessive linear mark making - bundles of gathered up springy extrusions - that is deliciously varied, inventive and full of visual surprises. At the back of the small booklet Smuts-Kennedy provides, a tangle of wires is photographically compared to two ‘grazing’ and ‘encountering’ spiral galaxies.

Elsewhere in the room, hanging down from the ceiling in different parts of the space, are brass or nickel-plated hoops, three circles that in the context of the already mentioned small booklet, seem to be earth, moon and sun. The ‘sun’ seems to be near the wire-bearing wall and the ‘earth’ and ‘moon’ down the other end of the room. The wall work in this context - with its entangled organic forms - also seems to reference something else, a garden, Smut-Kennedy’s own garden at Maunga Kereru.

The ‘star circuit’ of the title seems to consist of the three linear spheres (‘geometric form(s)’ as ‘site-specific tools’), and the ‘heart circuit’ seems to be the wire ‘garden’ that can be interacted with via two thin metal divining rods found on a nearby table alongside a crystal ‘singing’ bowl (an aid for meditation) on a stand. Astrology and dowsing are salient under-pinning belief systems for this show.

Interest in (and sympathy or enthusiasm for) the paranormal is quite common in the contemporary art world, as various Auckland exhibitions by curators like Natasha Conland and Caterina Riva have shown. As one often sceptical of certain artists’ related claims, I don’t ‘connect’ with such content (namely the astrology and dowsing) when found in installations like this one. However there are other aspects obviously that draw me in.

For me the wall drawing is the thing. It is a very rich and absorbing array of clustered lines, spread out with all sorts of compressing - and dissipating - tensions where the knotted and unravelling ‘threads’ are squeezed together. Smuts-Kennedy in her booklet calls this wire wall, Incoherence, but the overall image has a definite sense of compositional order and considered placement. It is not aleatoric.

And the work fits in (visually anyway) with the projects of other ‘wall-minimalist’ artists like Patrick Lundberg (tiny ball paintings), Hany Armanious (cast polystyrene pieces of Blutak), Glen Hayward (hand carved nails) and Julian Dashper (ruled pencil line drawings). If you stand too far back the white swallows up the wire so it disappears, but up close it is endlessly fascinating. Well worth a trip to RM to check out.

John Hurrell

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