Blog Archives
Tanya Martusheff

27 May – 13 June 2020

Saponification, the chemical process that forms soap, sometimes happens in unexpected places. Places where the designed intention inadvertently creates an ideal environment for material response. For example, the fat, oil, and grease build up in sewer systems also go through a process of saponification. These collectively made colossal obstructions are known as fatbergs and are dealt with on a regular basis by drainage workers. Conservationists in art museums battle an issue of metal soap formation. It causes a lumpy texture to develop under the surface of oil paintings because, over time, the oil binding reacts with the alkaline metals of certain pigments. In human body decomposition, fatty tissues react with ammonia to create what is called ‘adipocere’, a form of soap that mummifies the corpse.

Slough relates to the preventative measures taken against Covid-19 as an example of overlapping function, where the materiality of soap behaves naturally and humans benefit from sanitary habits. Soap molecules bond to fats and oils, stripping layers of dirt and dead skin cells with it. Just as our bodies are protected with a layer of skin, the SARS-CoV-2 virus is protected by a lipid membrane. Fortunately for us, that lipid membrane is susceptible to micelles of lathered soap. These bubbles rip apart the virus effectively killing it before washing its pieces down the drain.

My practice aims to reveal the intertwining of human routine and nonhuman agency by researching and creating work with common materials that have more clout than we give them credit for. These ideas follow a philosophy of new materialism that encourage questioning of dominating anthropocentric views. Our intimate relationship to the material world means we cannot keep isolating our interests. Because the physical manifestations that confront us lay bare not just our participation, but our vulnerability in larger networks of things.

Charles Buenconsejo – Open Home

Artist Charles Buenconsejo has left his home in the Philippines to make a new one in New Zealand, one that promises purity and connection with nature. He instead finds a society that poses familiar challenges even as he is “making it” according to Filipino standards of progress, having migrated to First World comfort. Homelessness and poverty seem an intensifying albeit new reality for New Zealand, and the country’s aggressive push for construction in the face of this reality intrudes into his suburban dream.

Twice the migrant—first from his provincial home in Cebu to the Philippines’ capital of Manila, then to Aotearoa—the artist discovers the concept of food sovereignty and finally finds his solace in returning to the soil, the land, and transforming his front yard into a thriving vegetable garden. Using discarded materials from construction, he fashions an urban farm that builds both community and self-love. He learns what the soil, plants, and seasons teach him as he grows food to nourish himself, and in doing so remembers the wisdom of his rural childhood, forgotten in the colonial whitewashing of third-world aspirations. He marries his past and present, the devastation wreaked by market forces and the regenerative influence of nature, the cultures of the Philippines and New Zealand, to engineer paradise—his utopia built within the cracks.

Becky Nunes – An Age Of Iron

March 4th – 21st
In Space M
Becky Nunes
An Age Of Iron 

Tahāroa is a small settlement to the South-West of the Kawhia harbour. At the end of a long winding road the township itself sits in a tight huddle of new and older houses and workers’ cottages. NZ Steel first brokered an agreement with Ngāti Mahuta ki te Hauāuru in the 70’s to extract the titanomagnetite from the sands and ship it offshore for use in the construction of steel. Tucked out of sight, over the headland, the dredging operation of this iron ore extraction from the volcanic black sands of the foreshore has been continuing unabated for 40 years.  Nunes’ film asks what such prolonged extraction and the introduction of this material into the global manufacturing chain might mean for the mauri of the land, and for our planetary relationships. Also screening will be the TVNZ/Journal documentary Tahāroa, made shortly after the mine opened. The screening of this archival 14 minute B&W documentary alongside the less linear new work offers some context, while also provoking the audience to consider land rights, resource extraction, ownership, and our relationships with more-than-human materials and place.

“The whole mystery of commodities, all the magic and necromancy that surrounds the products of labour as long as they take the form of commodities, vanishes therefore, so soon as we come to other forms of production.” – Karl Marx, Capital, Vol.1
Three ships sail under the flags of Japan, Panama and Singapore; Destiny, Providence and Eos (goddess of the dawn). This landscape has been observed for many years allowing for a shift from one way of seeing to another, revealing the deserts of far-away planets. A long burn. And through this act of looking, and re-looking, time has started to fold in on itself. Everything is out of time and what we think should move doesn’t. From somewhere (in China) three workers desperately peer into the void. Their actions only made more frenzied because of the stillness of the screen grabbed image. Something is wrong.
There is a certain conjuring of chaos through the juxtaposition of landscape and failure. But this is not all. A framing of agency is presented in a way that the Afrofuturists know. An object, a spaceship, or a relic from another era orbits and the merging of past, future and present offer a speculative subversion of the documentary form. Out-takes from the world and (science) fiction signal in the glowing translucent wakas heading out to the cosmos, a reconciliation of a future which is both bright and distant.
David Cowlard

Ed Ritchie and Megan Brady – Silent agreements

February 12-29th

Drawn from a comfortable intuition that intertwines between a personal and collaborative friendship, Ed Ritchie and Megan Brady present new work exploring an overlap between a poetic aesthetic and a performative engagement within a space. Silent agreements deals directly with
newly divided space M of RM focusing on the natural light which filters through the large window panes. Significantly lowering the highest point of the gallery to increase one’s ability to think in a contemplative manner, Ritchie and Brady have constructed a handmade paper ceiling filling the space above us. The soft ceiling acts as a room divider, encouraging those within the gallery to speak and move softly, calmly while allowing one viewer at a time to delicately observe the space above the constructed ceiling. Soft ceilings allude to temporary settings. Much like being within a tent, marquee or fort, they embody a strange mix of celebration and imagination. Temporary architectures have a certain way of expanding our treatment of space; to our arrangements and our curiosities.

Selena Ershadi and Azita Chegini – Amator

December 4th-14th 2020

“The very classification “amateur” has an apologetic ring. But the very word  – from the Latin amator, “lover” – means one who does something for the love of the thing” – Maya Deren

Amator is a collaborative and open-ended moving image and text project by mother and daughter Azita Chegini and Selina Ershadi.

When plans to accompany her mother on a recent trip to Iran to make the film fell through, Selina asked Azita to take her handycam with her on her 3 week trip back home to record walking through the Alborz mountains that surround Tehran. What emerged from this seemingly simple task is a series of fragmented glimpses into Azita’s experience of grappling with what it means to be a cameraperson and what it means to document one’s own lived experience, questions intensified by a setting in which the boundary between the private and public is starkly defined.

After years of being the one in front of the camera’s lens, Azita is now the one looking through it, capturing what she sees. Her camera enacts a kind of flanerie that shifts between the interiors and exteriors of both places and bodies across space and time. Over the stream of images, Azita reads her own diaristic text that drifts in and out of the present and the past, moving between the act of recording what one sees and what one remembers.

Iranian oral storytelling has its own version of the phrase ‘once upon a time’. Persian stories often begin with the words ‘yeki bood, yeki nabood’ : ‘one was, one was not.’ It is a phrase that holds space for what has been carved away; a reminder of the untold that always shadows what is told. The ambiguous words question the notion of a singular truth. By including the fractured construction of Azita’s own story – its attempts, its ‘failures,’ its intent – the film strives for narrative multiplicity.

Amator circuitously continues on from Selina’s inter-textual film Hollywood Ave (2017) and its mirror text Notes for 3 Women. The work challenges mastery, singular authorship and resolution, instead embracing minor forms of storytelling that dwell in places of uncertainty and daydreams. It is a project that is slowly, intuitively and imperfectly pieced together by love.

Casey Carsel – Shum Klum

Casey Carsel
Shum Klum
November 6th – 23rd 2019

Garlic is historically tied to Jewish culture as a symbol of celebration and good health. Garlic is also bound to anti-Semitic propaganda within the concept of foetor Judaicus—‘Jewish stink’. In Shum Klum Casey Carsel explores Jewishness and garlic, from the sweetness of tradition to the stench of hatred, and considers the allium’s journey from an everyday marker of Jewishness to nothing at all.

Two texts relate to this project:
Quishile Charan
Garlic and a whole lot of lovin’
Casey Carsel
Allium Olere (garlic scent)

Areez Katki – Some Retained Delights 

Areez Katki
Some Retained Delights
October 9th – 26th
Implementing work within the parameters of 20 odd square pieces of found cloth, each between 400-600mm, Katki embroiders a series of useful textiles yet again; handkerchiefs – found in his late-grandfather’s vanity chest drawer; stolen from the purse of an octogenarian matriarch or two; sourced from a Khadi vendor down the road from his ancestral home; found at a flea market in Athens; joyfully discovered next to the home of Mario Praz in Rome; taken from the kitchen of Pierre Jeanneret’s villa where Katki spent one restless night in Chandigarh. These squares serve as his ground for intimate mark making. Synesthetic responses to heuristic, contemplative thought contemporaneously sit upon & beside the ephemera of remembrances. Addressing how certain evocative gestures, whether grand or minute, may be preserved for one’s pleasure. 
Some Retained Delights 

simultaneously investigates the realms of experiential & historic matter. Participating in elegiac processions through the lush grounds of a Zoroastrian sky burial site; revisiting childhood tropes of lost and found objects; contemplating the joys of Mughal gift giving; distantly observing the linear relationships between bodies as they lean against one another
Fragmented assemblages of embroidered forms have been placed in grid-like compositions to evoke the collectability of thought and form. Allowing some to undulate and metamorphose, recorded through needlework markings contained within windowpane checks of hand woven cloth. Addressing the fragmentary nature of (an often collective) memory, Katki’s new works rest between the genres of storytelling and historicisingi – executed by reviving a cluster of humble textiles. In the process of encountering, acquiring and citing textual stimuli, he has borrowed iconography from Parsi poet Gieve Patel ii , ideologies around the importance of tactile memory imbedded in objects iii from Edmund de Waal’s nonfiction writings and the principles of quality, nature & definitioniv from Annie Beasant, with further applied theosophical discourse in essays by H.S Olcottv. Having formulated and executed these works between May–October 2019; over his summer residency in Athens, a brief sojourn in Rome and remaining months during a revisitation of his home in Mumbai. Gleaning from various sources of mark making, presented forth is an intimate space where one may reflect & perhaps appraise their associations with memory and time. 


i Cullinan, Nicholas. In Part: Fragments of Modernity. (2015). Quaderno #2. Fondazione Prada: Milano.
ii Patel, Gieve. How Do You Withstand, Body. (1976). Clearing House: Bombay.
iii De Waal, Edmund. The Hare with the Amber Eyes. (201o). Chatto & Windus: London.
iv Beasant, A. Leadbeater, C.W. Thought Forms. (1910). The Theosophical Publishing House: London.
v Olcott, H.S. Applied Theosophy and Other Essays. (1975). The Theosophical Publishing House: Madras. 

Caitlin Clarke and Arwen Mirama Sommers, A weakened dark in the deepest, deepest blue
Caitlin Clarke and Arwen Mirama Sommers A weakened dark in the deepest, deepest blue September 18th- October 5th Publication by Arwen Mirama Sommers (download PDF here)

Wild flowers spilling into the earth

Spilling into the woods

Wild spirits spill into our hands

Into our feet

A weakened dark in the deepest deepest blue

Ancestors calling from our stomachs

Mediate your intentions

Shall we learn about our relationship with ourselves first, before we learn to place stones.

We must acknowledge that we don’t exist without our relationship to space. Is it that our separation from our place in nature is causing disruption.

Caitlin and Arwen have been investigating how to place intentions carefully. Through returning to spaces they find significant, they have been transforming their experiences of these places to find new meaning, where memory becomes the thread to bring you deeper into yourself.

They invite the viewer to slip back into childhood and to explore the rope of the immaterial world through how our human intentions affect spaces.

We welcome you to come, renew your thread, and start a ripple.

Clare Fleming and Bronte Perry

Clare Fleming, The momentary triumph of aggression over tenderness
Bronte Perry, Awaiting Paradise
August 28th- September 14th

The momentary triumph of aggression over tenderness
Clare Fleming

In The momentary triumph of aggression over tenderness, Clare Fleming brings together sound and image to recall the interior world of motherhood as it is felt. In this deeply subjective practice of psychodrama and catharsis, her documentation of the domestic tableau works to frame a soundscape that is a raw re-enactment of a mother’s mind produced by the deep listening and self-excavation of parenting by connection. 

This work of disclosure investigates the ambiguity between memory and experience, reality and re-enactment. It questions the mythologies of women’s magazines and influencer feeds, and the art-historical representation of the mother, in an emotional self-portrait of the agony and the ecstasy. Here, the mother is both contemporary archetype and lived contradiction.

Awaiting Paradise
Bronte Perry

Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. Psalm 2:9

In the memory of my grandmother’s house I can hear Armageddon. It bubbles and seeps underneath the floorboards, whispering cold horrors from the ashtray and old Cody’s on her kitchen table. It’s in this house that family values and religious dogma formed a site of corruption of kinship, a place where religious practice and abuse were amalgamated into one another. Where whanaungatanga was lost as the fragility of colonial kinship cracked under its own weight.

My hands buried deep among the pamphlets of his leather bag, a brother of the faith once told me:

“The dead will rise again Bronte, and you will be greeted by them in lush fields laden with fruit.”

I still dream of her kicking and flailing as she screamed for god to not let her die. The stress of not knowing how to respond to her passing was more traumatic than watching her beg wildly for god to save her; for we are taught to not speak ill of the dead – or the dying. Between the spatters of fluid that were filling her lungs, Tim said “we will meet you again in paradise”. But I wonder still if she found her way to Hine-nui-te-Po or whether the assimilated lay aimlessly in purgatory.

I no longer think of paradise but I still dream Armageddon, the crumbling salt pillar of Lots wife and Linda singing Poi E as she drowned.

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