Unnerved: The New Zealand Project
Press Release: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, May 2010
The richness and diversity of contemporary New Zealand art and film will be celebrated in a major exhibition and cinema program at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) from May 1 until July 4, 2010.
Queensland Art Gallery Director Tony Ellwood said ‘Unnerved: The New Zealand Project’ was the second in the Queensland Art Gallery’s series of country-specific exhibitions curated from its contemporary collections.
“The exhibition explores a rich, dark vein that recurs in New Zealand contemporary art and film.
“It features more than 120 contemporary New Zealand works by more than 30 artists, dating from the late 1960s to the present, including paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures, installations, film and video art,” Mr Ellwood said.
In conjunction with ‘Unnerved’ the Gallery’s Australian Cinémathèque presents ‘New Zealand Noir’, a film program reflecting the unique visions of New Zealand filmmakers.
Mr Ellwood said the Queensland Art Gallery held the largest collection of contemporary New Zealand art outside that country, including many works acquired through the Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art exhibitions since the early 1990s.
“Many of the works create a sense of psychological or physical unease for the viewer. It’s interesting to see how artists achieve this in different ways, using scale, mystery, narrative, humour or parody,” he said.
Senior artist Michael Parekowhai is represented by a range of works including two gigantic inflatable rabbits and The Horn of Africa 2006, a sculpture of a life-size seal precariously balancing a grand concert piano on its nose.
Powerful images of ten Maori ancestors, part of Lisa Reihana’s ongoing Digital Marae series, play out new versions of traditional narratives for a contemporary audience.
“Also prominent are haunting photographic series by Yvonne Todd, whose glossy portrait photography references pulp fiction novels and B-grade films, and Anne Noble, who chronicles the otherworldly silence of life for Benedictine nuns,” Mr Ellwood said.
A large floor-based world map created entirely from salt crystals by Ruth Watson, Au hasard 2010, implies a world subject to constant change.
Alex Monteith’s panoramic 25 metre-wide video installation documenting the New Zealand Air Force Red Checkers aerobatics display team immerses the viewer in the precision timing and accelerated speed of these highly orchestrated manoeuvres.
Meanwhile, four hilarious episodes from comedy TV series Flight of the Conchords emphasise the subtle cultural differences of the main New Zealand characters Bret and Jemaine in New York.
Mr Ellwood said the filmmakers featured in the ‘New Zealand Noir’ cinema program untangle elements of family and place, national and personal identity and cultural heritage.
Directors include Peter Jackson (Heavenly Creatures 1994), Jane Campion (An Angel at My Table 1990; The Piano 1993), Taika Waititi (Two Cars, One Night 2003; Eagle vs. Shark 2007), Florian Habicht ( Woodenhead 2002) and Armagan Ballantyne (The Strength of Water 2009).
Screenings of animations and films by a younger generation of New Zealand artists will also be shown in the Children’s Art Centre.
And, in GoMA’s foyer cabinet, 35 Pacific lei (body adornment) from the Gallery’s Collection will be displayed, demonstrating the diversity of media used by artists across the Pacific.
‘Unnerved: The New Zealand Project’ is sponsored by the New Zealand Government and Creative New Zealand.