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Interpretation and Trust

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Jerome Ngan-Kee, New/Content, detail, as installed at Mercy Pictures. Photo: the artist Jerome Ngan-Kee, New/Content, detail, as installed at Mercy Pictures. Photo: the artist Jerome Ngan-Kee, New/Content, detail, as installed at Mercy Pictures. Photo: the artist Jerome Ngan-Kee, New/Content, detail, as installed at Mercy Pictures. Photo: the artist Jerome Ngan-Kee, New/Content, detail, as installed at Mercy Pictures. Photo: the artist

Ngan-Kee's presentation is really about language, faith and assumptions. A bit like some of the conceptual tensions about representation seen in the famous Magritte ‘pipe' painting 'The Treachery of Images,' with the magnets also referencing the cover of Duchamp's Green Box—except the magnet and metal dust lettering here is done deliberately sloppily.

Auckland

 

Jerome Ngan-Kee
New/Content

 

13 December 2018 - 31 December 2018

With the lights on, lots of plate glass between the two gallery rooms and the mall corridor /thoroughfare, and both sliding doors permanently locked—you have to peer through the glass from outside and think about what is inside the gallery space. It is the last show at this site for Mercy Pictures.

Eight artworks are listed on the takeaway sheet available in the corridor. Peering into the space, all the discernible objects are rust coloured, apart from some little magnets that spell out words. The boxes might be cast and be of iron. Or they might also be cardboard, coated with an applied rust patina. Either way could refer to the orange-sienna Ironbank building several premises down K’ Rd.

You can’t get close to check the accuracy of the artist’s claims—in terms of the putative materials and processes. The clearly discernible objects (banana and apple boxes, shoe and shirt boxes, leaves, words spelling Love or Hate /Care combined) that you see on the floors of the two galleries (one painted grey, the other stained umber) are not necessarily the items (such as a brochure holder, a lock jammer, the lighting, words and patterns) listed in the catalogue which are much vaguer, with oblique titles like Trepan, Perception to Emotion, Host or Informant. The items you see in front of you are discrete and palpable, and seem likely to be artworks, but the actual works listed have properties that are more diffuse or atmospheric, or are outside next to the observer.

Ngan-Kee’s presentation is really about language, faith and assumptions. A bit like some of the conceptual tensions about representation seen in the famous Magritte ‘pipe’ painting The Treachery of Images, with the magnets also referencing the cover of Duchamp’s Green Box—except that the magnet and metal dust lettering here is done deliberately sloppily.

The show is about viewer trust. Trust that the magnets are positioned over iron, and not glued on cardboard or placed (using gravity) on real leaves. And that the listed materials are accurate.

It is a rejection of cynicism; an embracing of positive belief. The word love in the lefthand room is balanced by hate in the righthand space being modified by care. It calls for affection towards the world, enjoyment of our bodily experience of it—not suspicion. But if that ‘black state’ is the way you feel—then that’s acknowledged too.

John Hurrell

(This review was written independently of—and before— the piece by Teghan Burt. It is included for the sake of conversation and dissemination. The more p.o.v.s the merrier.)

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