Wellington City Council Statement
Courtenay Place Park | Light Boxes
EXHIBITION ONE: Flanerie and Figments
The Courtenay Place Park light boxes offer an intense, highly public exhibition space with a backdrop of buildings, buses and trees rather than white walls. It is the first exhibition space of its kind in New Zealand, taking art out of a gallery context and into public space.
The inaugural exhibition titled Fl�nerie and Figments is timed to coincide with the opening of Courtenay Place Park, and features contemporary photography by eight Wellington artists. The exhibition comprises 16 strong images that feed off and critique our urban condition. Fl�nerie and Figments encourages people to consider their understanding of and relationship to the city.
The Light Box forum provides a ‘sledge hammer’ approach to public space. They are in-your-face: eight, 3-metre high illuminated glass and cor-ten steel boxes on the edge of one of Wellington’s busiest streets.
The artists – Andy Palmer, John Lake, Victoria Birkenshaw, Shaun Lawson, Amelia Handscomb, Steve Rowe, Jessica Silk and Clare Noonan’s artworks were selected because they reflect a variety of photographic practices, styles and approaches to the urban condition. Some works can be read as a response to the prominence of advertising billboards in public space, some examine identity, some critique context and others are a comment on the practice of photography in New Zealand-Aotearoa.
Courtenay Place is a dynamic gateway to the city. This exhibition both plays on the dynamism and demands that people stop, look and consider their environment even if just for a second.
Unreleased Curator’s Statement
Courtenay Park | light boxes
EXHIBITION ONE Flanerie and Figments
The Courtenay Place light boxes offer an intense, highly public exhibition venue with a backdrop of buildings, buses and trees rather than white walls. It is the first exhibition venue of its kind in New Zealand and relishes in the opportunity to take art out of a gallery context and into public space.
The inaugural exhibition, Flanerie and Figments, timed to coincide with the opening of Courtenay Place Park features contemporary photography by eight emerging Wellington Artists. The exhibition uses photography to encourage people to consider how they use and understand their city. Playing on the perception of New Zealand photography, the exhibition takes 16 strong individual pieces that feed off, and critique their urban environment.
Flanerie and Figments begins with a rather simple yet difficult ambition to encourage people to consider their understanding of and relationship to the city. The Light Box concept provides somewhat of a ‘sledge hammer’ approach to fulfilling this aim by being so inherently in your face as eight, three metre high illuminated boxes on a busy Wellington Street only can.
The group of artists was chosen based on the fact that they operate across the genres and practices of contemporary photography. The works were chosen to reflect the various practices and genres but also to feed off the environment in which the work was to be shown. Some works can be seen as comments on the nature of the billboard (and more broadly, advertising photography in general) , while other works are the antithesis of not only advertising photography but what you might expect to see in a public exhibition such as this.
Yet there exists a crossover between all the works in Flanerie and Figments. Regardless of style or subject matter an examination of identity, the use of the portrait, or the critique of context. Through parallax and a sideways glance, the experience and reading of the work by a pedestrian at 5kph or a motorist at 50kph is interrogated. The modes of experience that this park design creates can only be heightened and further explored as the exhibition space becomes part of the arts infrastructure on the city.
When all is said and done Flanerie and Figments surrenders itself to the street, acknowledging that peoples perceptions through a mode of parallax, while catching a bus or staggering to the next watering hole will ultimately rule the day. As with any show, relationships identified and exploited may go unseen. People will bring their own perceptions to bear, however in an urban environment such as this, the scale and intensity create a hyper environment in which this exists. The scale of Courtenay Place where one can view the work from 200m away, adjacent to busses, billboards and buildings, any deliberate relationships are likely to be watered down. In this way an interesting dynamic is played out where instead of an environment where viewing an object is the aim, the act of viewing is subverted by the everyday.
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©Andy Palmer 2006-2014