Opening: October 14, 2012, 7 pm
On the occasion of New Zealand’s invitation as the Guest of Honor at the 2012 Frankfurt Book Fair, the Frankfurter Kunstverein presented the group exhibition “Contact. Artists from Aotearoa/New Zealand”. This was the first comprehensive exhibition of contemporary art from New Zealand in Germany for over ten years. Entitled “Contact”, the exhibition brought together paintings, photographs, films, and installations by nearly twenty New Zealand artists. The title is drawn from a 1974 performance by Jim Allen, one of New Zealand’s important exponents of conceptual art. This three-part performance, restaged in 2011, focused on the underlying conditions of human actions in examining the interactivity between bodies, space, and material. It was based on a broad definition of “contact” as a mental, physical, and social interdependency. Allen’s work was created during a time in which the artist was searching for different ways to approach the past and its cultural context. Against this background “Contact” served as the starting point of the presentation at the Frankfurter Kunstverein and is representative for forty years of artistic production in Aotearoa (the term for New Zealand in Te Reo, the language of the Māori, meaning “land of the long white cloud”).
The term “contact” refers to the network of relationships between the two dominant ethnicities in bi-cultural Aotearoa/New Zealand: the indigenous population of Māori and the white settlers, “Pakeha”. Video works by Lisa Reihana, for example, deal with themes of cultural oppression, the search for cultural identity, and the struggle for self-determination. New technologies and old myths are intertwined in works by Rachael Rakena, while Francis Upritchard creates new, hybrid forms based on historical objects. Issues related to the complexity of multicultural society in the scope of a powerful influx of immigrants from the Polynesian islands, as well as the fate of a life in exile, are reflected in the photographs of Edith Amituanai. “Contact” not only presented works that artistically address socio-cultural conflicts in today’s Aotearoa/New Zealand, but also ones of a more poetic nature, like works by Dane Mitchell or site-specific installations by John Ward-Knox. The title of the exhibition is expanded conceptually to include the artistic methods and processes of painters like Judy Miller, who, alongside Francis Upritchard, represented New Zealand at the Venice Biennale in 2009, or Simon Ingram, who employs a programmatic approach devoid of subjective intervention in his “Automata Paintings”.
“Contact” outlines a complex portrait of artistic production of the last forty years in Aoteaora/New Zealand. Here works are not used to illustrate a single thematic point, rather the aim is to create a multifaceted perspective of a highly active and heterogeneous artistic scene within the context of a contemporary dialogue.
Curators: Leonhard Emmerling, Aaron Kreisler
Participating Artists: Jim Allen, Alberto García Alvarez, Edith Amituanai, Ruth Buchanan, Philip Dadson, Alicia Frankovich, Marti Friedlander, Simon Glaister, Murray Hewitt, Simon Ingram, Janet Lilo, Len Lye, Judy Millar, Dane Mitchell, Alex Monteith, Simon Morris, Fiona Pardington, Campbell Patterson, Rachael Rakena, Lisa Reihana, Peter Robinson, Sriwhana Spong, Francis Upritchard, Daniel von Sturmer, John Ward-Knox
October 10, 2012, 7 pm
Over and Over Again - The Legacy of Gordon Walters
Lecture by Christina Barton (Director Adam Art Gallery, Wellington NZ)
This lecture will offer four linked readings of the work of Gordon Walters (1919-1995), who is widely regarded as New Zealand's greatest abstract painter of the modern era. Departing from his early work, The Poet (1947), it will track the progress of Walters' painting and its reception-specifically in relation to his synthesis of contemporary European and American with pre-modern Maori and Pacific sources-within the context of New Zealand's emergence as a modern, then bicultural nation. Whilst canvassing the changing ways in which Walters' work has been understood, this lecture will also offer new insights into its legacy for an understanding of the role of painting as both an historical project and as an embodied practice that mediates a relation between the individual and his world.
Christina Barton is a writer and curator with a specialist interest in New Zealand art after 1960. She is currently Director of the Adam Art Gallery, Victoria University of Wellington, in Wellington, New Zealand.
October 6, 2012, 11 am
Artist talk with Edith Amituanai
Edith Amituanai (*1980, Auckland) is one of the most important photographers of New Zealand’s emerging generation. Her large-format color photographs may be viewed in context with the transition of New Zealand from a bi-cultural to a poly-cultural society. Edith Amituanai comes from a family that immigrated to New Zealand from Samoa in the 1960s. She documents the lives and circumstances of Samoans in the European and American diaspora.
Edith Amituanai won first prize in the Marti Friedlander Photographic Award (2007), and she was nominated in 2010 for New Zealand’s most important prize for contemporary art, the Walters Prize.
October 6, 2012, 6 pm
Artist talk and book presentation with Judy Millar
Judy Millar (*1959, Auckland), who represented New Zealand at the 2009 Venice Biennale with Francis Upritchard, became known for gestural paintings with an intense color palette. The specific aesthetic of her work is owed to a two-part technique. The paint is mixed, poured onto a canvas lying on the floor, and then smeared with a rag, palette knife, or other tool. More recently she has developed her paintings into sculptures by scanning small-format images and printing them, many times enlarged, on vinyl.
In conversation with Dr. Ulrike Schick (Director of the Museum für gegenstandsfreie Kunst, Otterndorf) Judy Millar will offer an in-depth view of her work and will also present her recent publication “The Rainbow Loop” (Kerber Verlag).
October 6, 2012, 7 pm
Distance looks away: what does New Zealand art mean now?
Lecture by Aaron Kreisler (Curator)
The starting point for this talk makes reference to a key book of essays, “Distance Looks our Way: The Effects of Remoteness on New Zealand” (1961), which traced the growing concerns of writers, artists, and academics in the Second World War and immediate post-war period who sought a new language/vision that was identifiably New Zealand. It posits this set of texts front and center because in a number of respects a discussion about the birth, development, and anxieties of a New Zealand contemporary art scene is something that has concerned a number of artists, art writers, and academics in this country over a sustained period and is still very prescient. Where New Zealand exists in an international framework or with respect to the center/s is of particular interest these days, especially when we are investing in significant art outings, but, as the New Zealand art writer and academic Wystan Curnow notes, maybe there are some important questions that we should be asking such as:
- “… do these scenes, which now wait upon the centre, presage a further expansion of its borders, and a further reconsideration of postwar art history? Or do they represent the latest addition of fresh emigrant faces from these various scenes which serve to confirm its authority?”
The power of being on the geo-political margins has been and continues to be a concern for New Zealanders. This paper will make reference to some of these issues while it responds to some of the artists, artworks, and ideas put forward in “Contact. Art from Aotearoa/New Zealand.”
October 9, 2012, 7 pm
The Meaning of Nature and Landscape in New Zealand in the Context of the History of Settlement and a Multicultural Nation
Lecture by Eveline Dürr (Professor for Ethnology, LMU Munich)
New Zealand is primarily associated with stunning landscapes and a way of life harmonized with nature, far removed from the “dirt” and noise of a globalized world. These perceptions are by no means new. They characterized the image of New Zealand already in the 19th century. In this lecture the meaning of naturalness and proximity to nature is presented and illuminated with a view to New Zealand's former settler society. The relevance of these notions for the current self-understanding of the island's inhabitants will be discussed as well. In the context of contemporary modern society the impact of these representations still plays an important role in the national identity of the South Pacific Island, which is defined by immigration and economic globalization.
Eveline Dürr has been Professor for Ethnology at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich since 2008. Her research focuses on the perception of nature and the environment, and specifically the cultural identity and representation of New Zealand, where she lived and worked for many years.