Nau mai, haere mai, welcome to EyeContact. You are invited to respond to reviews and contribute to discussion by registering to participate.

JH

Keeping the Dispossessed at Bay

AA
View Discussion
Brett Graham, Monument, 2018, painted recycled pine,  4200 x 10600 mm. Photo: Sam Hartnett Brett Graham, Monument, 2018, painted recycled pine,  4200 x 10600 mm. Photo: Sam Hartnett Brett Graham, Monument, 2018, painted recycled pine,  4200 x 10600 mm. Photo: Sam Hartnett Brett Graham, Monument, 2018, painted recycled pine,  4200 x 10600 mm. Photo: Sam Hartnett Brett Graham, Monument, 2018, painted recycled pine,  4200 x 10600 mm. Photo: Sam Hartnett Brett Graham, Ngaa ra o Hune, laser engraved and painted macrocarpa, 760 x 760 mm framed Brett Graham, Ka ara te pakanga, laser engraved and painted macrocarpa, 760 x 760 mm framed Brett Graham, Ki roto o Waikato, laser engraved and painted macrocarpa, 760 x 760 mm framed Brett Graham, Ka riro ko Te Rau, laser engraved and painted macrocarpa, 760 x 760 mm framed Brett Graham, Me taana hokowhitu, laser engraved and painted macrocarpa, 760 x 760 mm framed Brett Graham, Tuuria atu raa, laser engraved and painted macrocarpa, 760 x 760 mm framed Brett Graham, Te tatau o te whare, laser engraved and painted macrocarpa, 760 x 760 mm framed Brett Graham, O te hoariri, laser engraved and painted macrocarpa, 760 x 760 mm framed

The work physically is monumental—a ten metre long, weatherboard, colonial dwelling—though militarily for defence it is worthless. Conceptually it exalts the temporary camp of Te Puea on Vauxhall road, Devonport, outside the Narrow Neck barracks in June 1918—for its moral support for the incarcerated Waikato prisoners resisting conscription—and jeers at the perpendicular Firth Tower, made of concrete in Matamata in 1882.

Auckland

 

Brett Graham
Monument

 

13 July - 11 August 2018

Brett Graham is well known for his early imposing hand-carved (or cast iron) sculptures and politically hard hitting installations, and following on from his interest in weaponry and post-colonial symbolism, this show might well be his most physically and intellectually impressive work to date. It dominates the downstairs Two Rooms gallery, hiding the two central columns with a white monolithic fort that has multiple gun embrasures for defenders, and soft (‘bullet-friendly’) pine planks for attackers.

Oozing paradox, the ‘fort’—via an eloquent essay by Anna-Marie White—praises the pacifist beliefs of Princess Te Puea Herangi (1883-1952), and mocks the land-grabbing greed of Auckland businessman, Josiah Clifton Firth (1826-1897). In the wake of the many recent commemorations of Gallipoli and other battles of World War 1, Graham presents a counter memorial, a monument and anti-monument combined. It is both celebratory and sardonic.

This spectacular but ineffective redoubt might initially be regarded as an ‘unmonument’ as discussed in the New Museum exhibition unmonumental (2007) which looked at North American sculpture and installation—mostly in the Robert Rauschenberg tradition—but there really is no connection. The work physically is monumental—a ten metre long, weatherboard, colonial dwelling—though militarily for defence it is worthless. As mentioned, conceptually it exalts the temporary camp of Te Puea on Vauxhall road, Devonport, outside the Narrow Neck barracks in June 1918—for its moral support for the incarcerated Waikato prisoners resisting conscription—and jeers at the perpendicular Firth Tower, made of concrete in Matamata in 1882.

On the gallery walls Graham presents eight laser prints (engraved on macrocarpa) showing blocks of confiscated ‘rebel’ land allocated by the government to soldiers who served in the Land Wars, many of whom sold it to speculators who then divided it up into smaller allotments to be sold at high prices. The names of the dispossessed parties in these engravings surround ‘negative’ collective maps of their original territories located in Waikato, Thames Valley and Tauranga. These names are very pale, as if faded and bleached out of colonial history. Nevertheless they are clearly legible.

With the wall engravings, the installed towering structure that they surround becomes bluster, a sort of ineffectual symbolic scarecrow to frighten off those who might challenge the huge estate on which it hypothetically sits. The eight maps of dispossessed land added together are represented by the gallery space defended by the ‘redoubt’.

An exceptional show, this is Graham at his very best. The physical presence of his bizarrely ambiguous construction draws you in to deal with its attendant ideas on the walls, centering on Waikato history and colonial injustices. Wonderful work.

John Hurrell

Print | Facebook | Twitter | Email

 

Recent Posts by John Hurrell

JH
Joyce Campbell, Flightdream, 2015 (installation view). Image © the artist and Two Rooms, Auckland. Photograph by Sam Hartnett.

The Slipping Away

GUS FISHER GALLERY

Auckland

 

Group exhibition

The Slipping Away



6 July - 7 September 2019

JH
A still from Richard Billingham's Ray and Liz. The image shows Lol, played by Tony Way.,

NZIFF ’19 Overall

Auckland

 

New Zealand International Film Festival
Various theatres around Auckland

 

18 July - 4 August 2019

JH
Front cover of Richard von Sturmer's 'Postcard Stories': Mayon Volcano, Albay Province, Philippines..

Releasing the Benefits of a Wild Imagination

Richard von Sturmer

 

Postcard Stories


Titus Books, Kaipara, 2019

JH
Alberto Garcia-Alvarez: 2014-102, 2014, mixed media on wood, 570 x 245 x 40 mm; 2017-107, 2017, mixed media on wood, 415 x 155 x 40 mm

Lines in Real and Optical Space

TIM MELVILLE GALLERY

Auckland

 

Alberto Garcia-Alvarez
Labyrinth

 

16 July - 17 August 2019