Exhibition Essays

2003 Reviews

March 2003


Louise Menzies

Through his collecting of images of the landscape, Daniel du Bern has collated a series of photographs and text pieces concerning many issues felicitous to contemporary New Zealand Art. Eclectic photographs of landscapes spread across one side of the space, facing framed texts positioned on an opposite wall, which detail biographies of significant and currently successful practitioners.

Next to this is a facsimile of the backbone of du Bern's project: a letter of request for surplus art works, as well as an extensive conceptual pr&eacutecis and a list of invited artists. We are even given an opportunity to make a donation for our choice of the unsigned and undated photographs (A New Zealand Landscape) 1-26). This shifting rhetoric of authorship in the work amplifies the way in which our engagement is often mediated through fictions, in this situation through the applied use of images of the landscape. Rather than hitting the wall in attempting to align ourselves with the artists' intentions, du Bern intelligently provides the background information. He tells us what it's all about and without ruining the surprise. How you want to see then, is what they are. Once someone else's, they are currently du Bern's and next perhaps they are yours. A dense, ambitious show but one worth taking the time for.

While AN EYE FOR AN EYE tackles those big art questions of authorship, representation and commodity status, they are dealt with in a refreshingly bemused and arrogant way.