Exhibition Essays

Number Nine Reviews

December 2002

Projections Review

Kate Kelly

A tea towel hangs from a huge, perhaps monolithic black platform from the top of the Gallery. It is dark within. Suddenly, a slide projector shifts then another and another. I am confused. What is the tea towel doing? A dreaded man in the corner tells me that is doesn't matter, it's not in the way of the slides, four now projected on walls roadside of the gallery. He sits, in almost darkness, beneath cut outs of stars and moons at the opposite end of Enjoy, where I am. What are the implications of this type of format in a gallery such as Enjoy? How will this work be seen, by various whose? Will John Lake like it? Staunch in his formalistic photographic viewpoint? Will a Tao Wells Rampant in his renegadness? Will the guy who owns the dairy next door like it? Or not and why? According to what subjective cultural norms will this be viewed?

Who is the curator of this show? He is Tim Wyborn, film man of Aro Valley. Loosely associated with The Wayfarer Library, he has compiled 251 works from many of his artist friends. Technical complications abound, the slide projectors crap out regularly, the tea towel is propping up one of the projectors and the atmosphere is claustrophobic. Black sheeting coasts the windows liberally, I feel like I am in Batman's underground lair.

Assaulted with so many images, many of great beauty, (that nasty, nasty word I contemporary art culture and yet so relevant and debated), I wonder at the compiling of these. Yes, Tim has done this, artist friends have submitted images and he has selected them on his basis that they work together in his estimation. There is no connection between each artist formally; conceptually these are linked by friendship.

This is tricky, in Enjoys space. Tim has made films for much of his career, so to construct a filmic atmosphere, and to focus on the slides alone is something he is attuned to in a natural way. Yet from a sculptural perspective it is so problematic... the space hasn't been taken into any consideration, except to project images and use walls. The entirety of the area has been utilised in a rudimentary way only, yet the effect can be mesmerising.

Many of the images are of singular artworks, and are interesting in themselves, but remain a showcase, much like a portfolio of work. Other slides actually use the material as their medium, constructing an image within itself. These I appreciate as they conflict with the other, singular artwork showpieces, more ethereal in nature. Richard Whyte's mound-like creations juxtaposed with Nikki Deeley's artworks for example. They jar the senses; this is stimulating in itself to have so much difference so quickly. Each slide holds fascination in itself. Slightly frustrating, I want to climb in and see the scale, size and texture of Nikki's artworks. Richard's, I can view for the painterly quality, and refer to formal attributes in their actuality experiential qualities such as scale, visual texture, collision with other slides that are his on opposite walls.

As an introduction to the artwork Tim placed examples of each artist's work outside in the entrance hall, in small frames. Were these necessary? Is this dumbing down what essentially is something so completely experiential?

I feel that Tim has taken on a challenge that could have benefited from some more Enjoy input. This curatorial series has shown us that contemporary art theory is not essential to produce art, but a meeting of concepts from a conceptual train of thought, and alternate trains of thought can b beneficial for the dialogue of Enjoy. However I believe this needs to be done in a respectful manner of work of high quality is expected for future shows. Diversity and discussion remain the basic of Enjoys philosophy as always, and as goes with active dialogue remains a culture of change. In this privileged space this amount of experimentation is idea for the dialogue that Enjoy needs to survive, and to remain relevant.