For those visiting during Art Basel in Hong Kong (29–31 March 2019), the smell of fresh paint may still be in the air at the latest heritage conservation project, The Mills, which opened on 16 March to encompass the Centre for Heritage, Arts and Textiles (CHAT), joining the ranks with ex-prison complex Tai Kwun, along with Eaton HK—a retro...
Firenze Lai says that she knows her studio of a few hundred square feet intimately; from the textures of its surfaces to the way the breeze blows into the room. The spaces depicted in her paintings are equally intimate. When curators seem to be at a loss for words to discuss troubled times, fear of containment, and the feeling of being completely...
In Meiro Koizumi's three-channel video installation, The Angels of Testimony (2019), the central frame features an interview with Hajime Kondo about his time as a solider of the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War. The conversation centres on war crimes perpetrated in China, including the beheading of Chinese prisoners for...
the uncommon good is et al's first show in Christchurch since 2012. The aesthetic remains however, with text, erasure, found object and astute use of wall and floor space - activated with poise and an unerring beauty of touch.
For some, the look may be bleak: grey and black on newsprint, scribbled writing, black gaffer tape, and some spray can in fluoro pink. There are glimpses of yellow and gold. But the mark-making, composition and seemingly casual presentation is essential et al. It is a mode that those who follow have admired for its tenacity, integrity and political engagement for over 40 years now.
Here, pages of the New York Times are presented taped to the wall. Gleaned whilst in Maine earlier this year, these works are almost diaristic observations of the relentless narcissism and politics of power. This is certainly not the common good. It is Trump et al. And headlines dominated also by Islamic State, Zika, Turkey and the nuclear threat. et al's annotations look like redaction on official documents, hinting at on-going obfuscation and manipulation.
On one page from the Wall St Journal, August 22, 2016 in black on grey, et al has written "if the past has gone the present is not here and the future will not come". This attitude is familiar to Maori. The biggest new work in the show, called white cube brown room tin shed and turanga waka out the back, has a similar subtext. Its fluoro cross form reminds me of Maori sovereignty flags and Hotere's Black Union Jack. And it is sprayed over the floorplan for a Type 1 House, designed for Aborigines in corrugated iron and concrete by the state governments of Australia. The same plans are presented on the gallery floor, measured out in duct tape. The houses, including verandahs, are grotesquely small. So, uptake has been poor. The subjects of et al's research, it seems to me, are coming slowly home.
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