Pair hope to shat­ter modern art myths

The Dominion Post - - Capitalday - LOUIS DAVIS

Two young, am­bi­tious artists have bro­ken a win­dow to start a con­ver­sa­tion – as part of an ex­hi­bi­tion in­side a de­lib­er­ately empty gallery space.

But the artists in­sist the empty space at En­joy Pub­lic Art Gallery on Cuba St is not lazi­ness.

Through their ex­hi­bi­tion – Heart of Glass– Is­abella Damp­ney and Theo Mac­don­ald are aim­ing to tap into an on­go­ing con­ver­sa­tion about con­tem­po­rary art in New Zealand me­dia.

‘‘New Zealand has a very spe­cific re­la­tion­ship with pub­licly funded art­works that cause me­dia up­roar,’’ Mac­don­ald says.

Con­tro­ver­sial, con­tem­po­rary art­works can of­ten be seen as a mas­sive waste of pub­lic money, for what is seem­ingly a stupid act, ac­tiv­ity, or prod­uct, Damp­ney adds.

‘‘It’s seen as re­dun­dant.’’ The artist says break­ing the win­dow could be seen as re­dun­dant in this way, but that’s ex­actly what the ex­hi­bi­tion is about – start­ing a con­ver­sa­tion about what art means.

Con­tem­po­rary art can be dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand with­out ed­u­ca­tion or con­text. It seems silly to some, but there’s a lot more go­ing on be­neath the sur­face, es­pe­cially for the art com­mu­nity, Damp­ney says.

The ex­hi­bi­tion takes its name from Blondie’s 1979 hit sin­gle Heart of Glass.

‘‘One of the hard­est things about choos­ing to make con­tem­po­rary art is the knowl­edge that your work will never be as widely dis­trib­uted as Deb­bie Harry’s. What we do takes a lot of ef­fort for very lit­tle re­turn.’’

As part of the project, the Auck­land artists, who are also mu­si­cians, have recorded their own ambient cover of the orig­i­nal song.

They re­flect on the 1970s era of disco, new wave and rock ‘n’ roll mu­sic to con­nect to a by­gone ra­dio era.

Cu­ra­tor So­phie Davis says the ex­hi­bi­tion puts an em­pha­sis on con­ver­sa­tion in­stead of be­ing con­fined within the gallery space.

‘‘Bella and Theo are play­fully think­ing about how peo­ple re­late to and un­der­stand con­tem­po­rary art – which tends to be viewed with a cer­tain kind of hu­mour or even sus­pi­cion – com­pared with, say, pop mu­sic.’’

View­ers can take part in the ex­hi­bi­tion and oc­cupy the empty space with con­ver­sa­tion about the bro­ken win­dow.

❚ Heart of Glas­sis open at En­joy Pub­lic Art Gallery un­til April 7.

PHOTO: XAN­DER DIXON/EN­JOY PUB­LIC ART GALLERY

Artists Theo Mac­don­ald and Is­abella Damp­ney want to tap into an on­go­ing con­ver­sa­tion about art in New Zealand.

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