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a tight grasp, a quiet voice 2018
retroreflective glass bead fabric, tape, cotton and gloss spray

Designed and produced in collaboration with Wilson Ong.
Commissioned by Lexus New Zealand.

a tight grasp, a quiet voice centres on a pair of identical LC 500 sports coupés. Building on previous experimentation with reflective paintings, Hikalu Clarke has turned one car into a giant stretcher, covering it with an elaborate canvas that shines under the introduced and ambient light in front of The Cloud. The work riffs on the phenomenon of the car cover, emphasising the vehicle’s status as a precious object, worthy of safeguarding. In its sensual softness and silver colouration, it is also reminiscent of reveal cloths used to premiere new models, evoking the constant technological innovation on which the car industry trades and depends (especially if it is to survive the transition away from fossil fuels).

At the same time, the cover acts as a couture garment, adding volume and complex forms to the body beneath: ruffles that gather tightly, yawn, and dissipate round the vehicle. Clarke picks up on the car’s inherent sculptural qualities, reminding us of the attention to aesthetics and sensation that make it into an object of desire rather than a mere tool. The reflective fabric dialogues with the remarkable painted skin of the LC 500, while creating its own unexpected effects. When photographed with a flash, it produces an image quite other to that yielded by the naked eye, extending the work into the digital plane, while emphasising the uniqueness of physical experience.



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west 2018
house and spray paint on wall

Presented with support from the Chartwell Trust and Creative NZ.

In west, Christina Pataialii explores the intersection of cultures. The work draws on a trip the artist made to Arizona in 2009. Based in the area of Gold Canyon, she was immediately struck by the dramatic desert and mountain landscape, so different to the sea-bounded, rain-drenched environment of Aotearoa. She was also drawn to its history. A nearby range, known today as the Superstitions, is the location of the famed Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine and is said by Apache to be the location of a hole leading to the underworld. The area has also been popular as a shooting location for westerns, a genre of film popularised in Samoa as a consequence of a kind of greater ‘westward expansion’ by the USA into the Pacific in the 20th century.

Pataialii’s mural abstracts Arizonan imagery, mashing it with memories of growing up in west and central Tāmaki Makaurau amid a polyphony of influences. The colouration, for instance, plays on a desert scene in a favourite childhood TV show, The Simpsons. Some motifs are legible as Pacific as well as American. A yucca could also be a fern, a power pylon a palm tree, the shell of a Mustang car that of a Toyota. A fence is fence no matter where you are. The artist’s making also dances between modes, picking up on the example of ‘fine painters’, like Philip Guston and Jean-Michel Basquiat, while depending on everyday house paints and tools. The whole is executed by Pataialii with practised aplomb – not so much resisting boundaries as suggesting their fundamental futility.

Photograph by Tim Wagg.



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Ground State 2018
acrylic ink on canvas and audio recording

Presented with support from Creative NZ.

Sarah Callesen’s practice centres on processes of transformation and mediation. The two works that make up Ground State grow out of sound recordings made by the artist using a hydrophone lowered into the water off Queens Wharf, behind The Cloud. Recordings were made during the day, when the sounds produced by boat motors and other human activities were more prominent, and at night, when these were at a minimum. Responding to the recordings, Callesen created a large, handmade drawing using a system of ruled lines. The work looks like the product of machine logic (and indeed evokes the notion of the body as a machine), but it is as dependent on the artist’s intuition and momentary decisions as on a fixed, principled process of translation.

Next, the drawing was fed into a software programme that generated a new sound file. This was spliced with the hydrophone recordings and other sounds to yield a track that is of this specific location (coloured as it is by anthropogenic noise), of Callesen’s design (the artist can in some measure anticipate the effects of her drawing), and of the computer. Taken as a whole, Ground State embodies the ubiquity of digitally enhanced experiences. The result of complicated and largely opaque processes, it recalls the unknowability of so many technologies that we have easily absorbed as everyday (think search algorithms, Facetune). At the same time, it reflects on the broader question of the impact of us humans on the equally impressionable wider world.

Image courtesy of the artist.


P4: PĀNiA!jj

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Sticky Tape Tāniko 2018
enamel and tape on aluminium with fixings

As well as participating in Projects 2018, anonymous artist PĀNiA! is showing at Auckland Art Fair with Mokopōpaki as part of the new section Piki Mai: Up Here ^^ (this was developed by PĀNiA!’s whanaunga, the anonymous duo Yllwbro). A country girl at heart, who often gets lost in the hustle and bustle of the city, PĀNiA! is all too aware of the value of vibrant signage. Playing off the avenue format of this year’s Fair, Sticky Tape Tāniko is designed to help visitors find their way to Piki Mai, operating like the wall-mounted route markers found in Venice, whose renowned Biennale was originally an art fair. The pieces also recall the ‘slow for the curve’ signs that pepper rural Aotearoa, which themselves resonate with the chevron patterns of tāniko weaving.

Echoing Mokopōpaki’s method of painting its walls brown (rather than the usual white), PĀNiA has coated aluminium signs with brown enamel before applying colourful sticky tapes – a process that expresses the importance of remaking Aotearoa in such a way that a Māori way of being is given the prominence it has too long been denied. PĀNiA! indicates that the signs signal a new direction: ‘Think Māori map-making. Sticky Tape Tāniko is all about the re-appropriation of Auckland real estate by describing it differently.’ The pieces stand not only as a critique of colonisation, but also an act of decolonisation – using what the artist has to hand.

The works that make up Sticky Tape Tāniko are available for purchase from Mokopōpaki.

Photograph by Tim Wagg.


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hand silk-screened garments and performance

Kay Abude’s LOVE THY LABOUR explores conceptions and conditions of work. The ongoing project stems from the experiences of the artist and her family. Relocating to Australia from the Philippines in 1986, Abude’s parents moved from white to blue collar jobs. Her mother worked in an electrical factory, supplementing her income by bringing components home that were assembled by members of the family. The artist notes, ‘Working was a way we spent time together and socialised. It’s how I developed fine motor skills at an early age and it sparked my interest in the factory and systems of production.’

Here, Abude has invited staff at Auckland Art Fair to don garments screen-printed with the eponymous exhortation ‘love thy labour’. The artist signals her solidarity with such labourers by working at the Fair as a guide, an outwardly unglamorous but essential role. In the context of the Fair, LOVE THY LABOUR cannot help but draw attention the fact that art-making is often treated as a ‘labour of love’. Abude’s work, however, is not wholly cynical. It reminds us that despite the dissolution of unions, the outsourcing of production to poorer countries, the rise of unpaid internships, and ever present demands on the artist to make without promise of return, many of us not only do what delights us, but would also feel quite lost without our daily grind.

LOVE THY LABOUR garments are available for purchase from Kay Abude.

Working image courtesy of the artist.



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consume 2018
cement, sand, fabric and rebar

Isabella Loudon’s sculptures hover between states. Formed from delicate fabrics, like chiffon, dipped in thin concrete, the works appear at once on the verge of solidification into being and collapse. Incorporating materials associated with construction, they initially look heavy and robust. In truth, however, they are light and relatively fragile, as is suggested by their suspended state and wing-like forms. The condition of apparent robustness and actual vulnerability is important to Loudon, giving physical expression to her musings on her own psychology. Like so many of us, the artist is aware that the front presented to the world is sometimes at odds with her internal state, one that is more precarious, contingent.

Encountering Loudon’s works, however, we might not immediately register their psychological resonances, instead experiencing them as beguiling objects that oscillate between the artificial and the naturally occurring, the ancient and the futuristic. One viewer might see the vestige of an explosion in an industrial complex; another, the petrified remains of a Roman garment; still another, the dusty concept model for a fantastical piece of architecture. The artist has no desire to impose a particular reading, preferring instead to let her shapeshifting works cue and absorb a host of divergent responses.

Isabella Loudon is represented by Robert Heald Gallery, Wellington.

Photograph by Tim Wagg.



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One Metre Composition 2018
mixed media

With One Metre Composition, Scarlett Cibilich presents a series of works that explore the status of painting as a well-defined medium or practice and the painting as a contained and stable unit. The ingredients of the works are broadly in keeping with painterly convention, including pigment and fabric surrounded and supported by rigid elements. However, Cibilich eschews canvas in favour of a kind of felt, which is impregnated with colour rather than carrying it on the surface. One work appears much like a framed painting and, indeed, exists as a single, mobile object. Another is more like a banner, the fabric pegged along its edges, instead of wrapped round a stretcher, and the work assembled in situ from pieces, after the fashion of an installation.

The works employ similar elements, lending them a close family resemblance, even a subtly kitset feel. Echoing Marcel Duchamp, and particularly his work 3 Standard Stoppages (1913–14), Cibilich works with one-metre lengths of wood and metal, turning the metre into a parameter, a fixed conceptual frame within which to experiment. In a similar vein, she limits herself to a small range of colours and tones. Her works faintly recall monochromes by 20th-century artists like Kazimir Malevich and Robert Ryman, nodding towards such key figures in the history of experimental painting. At the same time, Cibilich plays with materials and processes associated with textile arts, acknowledging traditions that are less well-known but no less worthy of attention.

The works that make up One Metre Composition are available for purchase from Scarlett Cibilich.

Photograph by Tim Wagg.



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From the Collection 2018
site-specific vinyl installation

Please note that the location of this work varies from that shown in the Fair guide.

The From the Collection series began in 1987 with a painting commissioned by the Bank of New Zealand. Since then, it has attracted a broad range of corporate, private, and public clients. Each work in the series is commissioned by a collector, whether individual or collective, operating at once as a provenance marker, a portrait of the patron, and a frontispiece to the collection. The client works with Billy Apple® to have the piece personalised with their choice of colours, logos, materials, and so on, while also merging with the artist’s own brand and its characteristic ‘look and feel’.

For Projects 2018, Apple has created a site-specific vinyl installation similar to a billboard. As is so often the case with his work, the precise nature of the gesture remains elusive. On the one hand, the artist seems to exploit the commercial context of Auckland Art Fair, advertising the series and calling for new customers for this quintessential marker of taste, discernment, and capital. On the other, he underscores art’s ability to treat and challenge cultural and economic norms not only by earnestly questioning and deconstructing them, but also by embracing them with wry enthusiasm.

Billy Apple® is represented by Starkwhite, Auckland.

Mock-up image courtesy of the artist and Starkwhite.



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Rose Hill 2017
colour photographs

Harry Culy’s ongoing series of photographs, Rose Hill, concentrates on the Hawke’s Bay, an area he visited regularly as a child (the series is named after his grandmother’s farm at Maraekakaho, near Hastings). Chosen and composed with the utmost care, the images are immediately elegant, but they also possess a haunting quality, hovering between celebration and lament. Swimming pool, Woodville (2017), for instance, teases out the poetry and style of a mid-century pool complex viewed on a wintery day, while also suggesting a community that receives no lavish government funding, that is not in a position to refresh its facilities, let alone build new ones.

Onga Onga Tearooms similarly mixes charming nostalgia with uncomfortable staidness. There’s a welcoming quality to the room (you can practically taste the buttery scones), but it is also marked by a lingering air of colonialism, with its insipid, faux English decor and all those images of churches and cottages on the wall. Interior, Putorino Pub evokes a different, if adjacent, culture. Again, all is tidy, despite being past its prime. Emptied of real people, Culy’s photograph highlights the communicative power of spaces, while paradoxically suggesting the limitations of judgements made on the surface of things – challenging us to texture our understanding of New Zealand’s ‘provinces’.

Harry Culy is represented by Parlour Projects, Hastings.

Image courtesy of the artist and Parlour Projects.



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A thought for disruption 2018
cast bronze, powder-coated steel and FilmPro orange acrylic

Commissioned by Deadly Ponies.

Hannah Valentine is particularly interested in the state of the physical body in an age increasingly bathed in the digital. Her installations play up the tangible, centring on cast bronze versions of free weights that visitors are encouraged to heft, hold, and move about with. The surfaces of these entities show the artist’s fingerprints, while also being receptive to the heat from visitors’ bodies. Over time, like devotional statues in bronze found worldwide, they will take on a patina in areas that receive minimal touch, a sheen in those caressed with frequency.

In the context of Auckland Art Fair, A thought for disruption provides a release valve for those fatigued by endless looking without permission to touch. At the same time, it does not overlook or forsake the visual. The walls of the small ‘arena’, painted immaculately in blazing orange, not only evoke bodily energy, but also provide a foil for Valentine’s organic, sketchy sculptures and their more regular, architectural stands – creating the impression of the installation as a drawing in space, and one that is lent further texture by the bodies drifting into and moving round the frame.

Photograph by Tim Wagg.