This week I flew to Auckland to see a special edition of Hue & Cry journal. It was commissioned by ST PAUL St Gallery for the exhibition The things we talked about, which looks at how ‘speaking, reading, writing, research: each may be understood as a gesture of self-definition, as part of an unfolding autobiographical narrative.’
The Hue & Cry edition Window/Mirror is in the gallery’s front window and came out of a conversation between myself and artist Ruth Buchanan. Ruth currently lives in Berlin so our conversation was an email blind date. The starting point: a question about whether our art practice was a form of self-definition. The exhibition catalogue states that Window/Mirror ‘comes to the space as a vinyl text on the window and a series of suspended posters that change each week during the exhibition.’ The idea of suspension appeals – to write to each other required a suspension of our everyday doing. Ruth’s emails would turn up, challenging me, and I’d have to respond to keep the conversation going. I imagined her at a big wooden desk, or, like me, at a kitchen table. Over a month we tried to wring out the relationship between art and self-definition, at least for the two of us.
ST PAUL St Gallery is usually closed on a Monday, so when I arrived Abby Cunnane, who curated the show, turned on the lights and video pieces, holding up her remote as if in salute. I spent an hour in the gallery and at times felt quite moved. It’s an exceptional collection of pieces and voices, with work by Moyra Davey, Dorine van Meel, Ruth Buchanan, Marie Shannon, and Alicia Frankovich. On opening night there was also a performance by lightreading (Sonya Lacey and Sarah Rose). Shannon’s digital work The Achaean Faxes (2012) especially made me think about the lifespan and function of a conversation. Shannon edited faxes from her partner Julian Dashper during his residency in Germany in 1995 (Dashper died in 2009) paired her new narrative with a mournful cello piece. It made me think about how we not only use conversation to define ourselves, but to cross distances and connect, whether that be from Berlin to Wellington, or to a time decades ago.
Images, top to bottom: Lover (2011) by Alicia Frankovich; The Achaean Faxes (2012) by Marie Shannon; One of the three curtains that form An image of a solid (2012) by Ruth Buchanan
Window/Mirror (2015) was edited by Chloe Lane and Andrea Bell, and designed by The International Office.