//
Category: 2020 Exhibition
Sam Clague: Drink The Ocean

Drink The Ocean
29 July — 15 August 2020

…But how did we do this? How were we able to drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? Where is it moving to now? Where are we moving to? Away from all suns? Are we not continually falling?… 

Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science

Drink The Ocean is an exhibition that explores the object-as-information, and the semiotic payloads indivisibly accrued by even the most quotidian object in the global contemporary environment. 

Clague’s works are elisions in the true sense of the word: as aporia, an irresolvable internal contradiction that gets to the heart of what it means to both reject and join forces with our turbid desires. Perhaps it’s something like the poet Anne Waldman describes when she takes on the dark spirit of Richard Nixon during a fire puja ceremony: in order to generate more compassion for the world we have to let in the negative energies as well as the positive.  

Abbra Kotlarczyk, Art+Australia Online

Joanna Neumegen, Emmanuel Sarmiento and Jessie Howell: Could I steal a moment?

Could I steal a moment?
29 July — 15 August 2020

Memory like death has a way of seizing time.

I think about keepsakes and mementos as symbols of fear. Fear of forgetting and fear of being forgotten. Emblems of evanescence. A key to unlock the door to a placeless time or a timeless place.

I often think about what I’d grab if the house was burning down. It could only be something small enough to run with. My phone or that photo? I can always get a new phone… I can also think of them without their picture. Have you ever closed your eyes and pictured a face? Forcing the image onto the backdrop behind your eyelids. I can secure a shape, but as I grasp at it and try to look closer, the translucent impression shifts and the details escape me.

There is an argument to be made that perhaps all existence is escapism. The only realities we are capable of inhabiting are our escaped ones. If this strong view turns out to be true, then the only way to directly experience escape would be to die. The ultimate crash.

In the car yesterday my chest got tight and I was scared we would die on that motorway. Why do I fear death? Maybe because it’s the ultimate surrender of control. Every time I dream I’m in a car I’m always in the passenger’s seat anyway. Why are we so obsessed with eternal life?

Sometimes I feel fine. Other times I’m gripped by uncontrollable fear. I disassociate and everything around me is a bit too bright a bit too abstract. Some omen is telling me something bad is going to happen. The consequences of living life like Hannah Montana. Hanging suspended from everyone I once was. A subject shaped in response to a network of associations, conversations, things I’ve latched onto; receipts of my existence. Every secret I hold onto is a notch on my belt, hung in the
wardrobe of my former selves.

Everything was forever until it wasn’t.

Becky Richards – Sand-Pit

What shape are your thoughts?

If your feelings of delight, or empowerment, fear or sorrow were given concrete form, what might they look like?

Inside each body sprawls the desert of the mind.
An ever-changing internal topology, studded with land marks, swept clean or flooded by weathers of thought and mood.

These rolling dunes are punctuated with strange grammar:
the biting mouths of despair,
jagged cliffs of anxiety,
exultant trunks of purpose and power,
oozing slugs of low energy,
a sprouting garden of fresh ideas…

Becky Richards presents a new body of experimental ceramic work, bound together through simple, spatial logic. Her research is led by material processes, and follows a continuous flow between the world of the mind and the realm of matter – fulfilling both her inherent need to make things, and the necessity of keeping herself happy and well.

Matilda Fraser – His trunk for a hand, and his foot for a scythe

Tom, a four-year-old Ceylon elephant, was gifted to the Duke of Edinburgh in Kolkata and brought to New Zealand on the ship Galatea in 1870. Aboard the ship, he was “pampered with biscuits, pea soup and tobacco… of the latter he was very fond”. After arriving in Auckland, Tom was taken to the Albert Barracks, where he was housed for the duration of his stay along with his friend, a tortoise, who “chiefly serve[d] as a pedestal for children to stand upon all day”.

Tom was a source of curiosity and awe for the people of Auckland. He was also a heavy drinker and was frequently plied with beer and spirits by members of the public and the soldiers that he lived with. During his stay, he was put to work at Maungawhau, quarrying basalt and scoria, and hauled the trig platform, which denotes the highest natural point in Auckland’s landscape, to the summit of the maunga. For this work, he was rewarded with sticky buns and beer at the local public house.

When the Duke’s tour of the colonies ended, Tom was taken to England; whereupon while being transported between Plymouth and London, Tom panicked at the movement of the train and crushed his keeper to death against the side of the carriage.

Tom died young, at about sixteen years of age, in 1882 at the Dublin Zoo. His skeleton remains at the Trinity College Zoological Museum in Dublin.

Matilda Fraser (BFA Hons, 2012, Massey University; MFA 2016, Elam) is an artist and writer based in Te Whanganui-a-Tara. Recent shows include Poet No. 2 at The Booth, Gus Fisher Gallery, 2019; The Race Marches Forward on the Feet of Little Children, Blue Oyster Art Project Space, 2018; I digress, Enjoy Public Art Gallery, 2017; The Eight Hours Plan, Mason’s Screen, 2017; New Perspectives, Artspace, 2016. She was the 2015 Writer-in-Residence at Blue Oyster Art Project Space, Dunedin, producing a series of nested texts entitled Against Efficiency about the nature of criticism. In 2020, she will undertake the Toi Pōneke Visual Arts Residency.

Matilda Fraser’s project is supported by Creative New Zealand.

Vivienne Worn – Retracings

Retracings
17 June — 4 July


Retracings began with repeat visits to the physical archive held at RM Gallery and Project Space before morphing with the pandemic into a painterly response to the archive from afar. Utilizing drawings, ideas and materials gathered prior to lockdown, time slowed, and an extended experiment in painting on silk ensued. As such, Retracings negotiates the territory between moments drawn from the RM Archive and the subjective feeling of painting, permeated by a surreal episode in global affairs.

The RM Archive was established in 2009 as an accessible archive of exhibition invites, publications and artists ephemera with an aim for it to be experimental, flexible and evolving. It is an archive started and run by artists for the wider community it serves. Formed and collected by multiple authors over time, the first thing noted is a sense of overwhelming labour within the room. Aware of how much energy is required to stage a single project, this room overflows with the trace of people and communities working. Assuming much of the work has been unpaid, the Archive could be said to represent an ongoing record of creative dreams, persistence and hope. Publications held offer a distinct international flavour as RM places itself within a global art scene of artist run initiatives, with local archive boxes sharing shelf space with texts and images from Berlin, Korea, Melbourne and the US. Painting in response, moments discovered in the archive and publications have been mixed and repeatedly re-drawn, then through light washes on silk, floated together. In this way the project aims to think through painting alongside a physical archive, while also reflecting on local to international aspirations.

Rebecca Steedman – The weight of things

The weight of things
17 June — 4 July

This body work exploits the potential of clay, in its raw, unfired (malleable) state, to capture surfaces, as well as the impact of movement and falling. For example, this work measures the height of the gallery through a series of falling cups. Original forms begin as cups, bowls, vases and plates, common domestic ware forms, those recognisable to people from daily use. These (often failed, broken, having lost their traditional function) ceramics become sculptural, and absurdly reference the moment of impact which re-shaped them. At the heart of it the interest is in the investment we have in daily objects in communicating abstract ideas or qualities… the funny way we try and capture and explain the world around us through another form. Initial inspiration was geological (a small amount of found clay retrieved from rail developments in the local area is included within the glazes) these rail developments unearth rocks and minerals that reference significant shifts within the earth’s crust over vast periods of time, which we use to understand the historic and ongoing formation of our landscapes. This work explores the immediate surfaces within and around the gallery.

Text by Becky Richards here

Ryder Jones – Shapes for future suns

Shapes for future suns
May 27 – June 13 2020

I walk down to the beach and try to make something from nothing. Shells with moon snail holes, knotted nylon, shards of blue plastic high on the tideline, beer cans and red ribbonous seaweed, rose stalks growing though a crack in the wood, tossed magazines and felt-tipped markers. 

Or Made from my body alone, its flight and its fall.

The sun is bleeding and my hands are pricked as I weave this wreath of thorns. Back yard stinking of seaweed as I conjure your trace. I’ll try to draw the arc of my time spent in the sand. I’ll put it all in my car and drive it to this clean white room.

Tanya Martusheff

Slough
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

RM Gallery and Project Space
Hours
Thursday and Friday 1pm - 5pm
Saturday 12pm - 4pm

Samoa House Lane
Auckland Central 1010

We are located in the centre of Auckland, close to Karangahape Road. We are on Samoa House Lane, just off of Beresford Street -- look out for the incredible fale of Samoa House and you're nearly there.
We are  2 minutes walk from Artspace, Ivan Anthony and Michael Lett.

Subscribe to the RM mailing list