Category: 2021 Exhibition

Sandy Gibbs – The paradox of failure: sport, competition and contemporary art

14 April- 8th May
Sandy Gibbs
The paradox of failure: sport, competition and contemporary art

I seem to have spent large chunks of my life in swimming pools and changing rooms. Together with the pungent odour of chlorine, it’s a reminder of my 1960’s childhood dream of being an Olympic swimmer – along with my adolescent hero-worship of Tui Shipston who, as a 17-year-old schoolgirl from Christchurch, represented New Zealand at the 1968 Mexico Olympic Games. Idealistically, I believed in the hard-working, democratic rightness of Tui Shipston to win a gold medal – and, more importantly, as a scene-setter for my own future and indisputable swimming glory.

But I was destined for disappointment – she didn’t win.

Of the four events that Shipston competed in at the 1968 Mexico Olympics, she qualified in the finals for only one: the women’s 400 metres individual medley. My hopes were high, and I remember waiting eagerly for the results, only to discover that she came seventh. Seventh… my eyes glazed over in disbelief. Marked by Shipston’s failure to win a medal, it was as if my own failure had also been acted out in that swimming pool in Mexico City. Olympic success was not to be mine. Bloody-mindedly resistant to acknowledging Shipston as the seventh fastest in the world – in itself an act of herculean proportions – I’m ashamed to admit that my hero-worship crumbled and fell away as my own medal-winning fantasy collapsed.

Years later, I resolved to offer Tui Shipston the chance to swim that race again – and maybe win this time.

This was the starting point of this project: an optimistic proposal to restage the original swimming event in the same Olympic swimming pool in Mexico City, the Alberca Olímpica Francisco Márquez, and with the same eight competitors – all now in their 60s.

I rang Tui – but she said no!

This moment dramatically shifted the project from being about failure to being a project that was itself constituted by failures — and in doing so forced a paradigmatic shift in both the framing of the project and its methodology. Contingencies, happenstance and precarious optimism opened up possibilities, and I seized upon opportunities to expand upon restaging as an overarching methodology by obsessively enacting the central character and using my own ageing body along with the language of sport, performance and humour in different ways and modalities as a tool of investigation with which to produce a body of video artwork.

As such, each of the video works is a restaged ‘micro-event’ made in response to the unfolding research journey as I doggedly and somewhat obsessively attempted to track down all of the original competitors – all the while, operating within the contingencies of an ongoing durational project moving towards restaging the final swimming race in Mexico City.

Yukari Kaihori – In Searching of Deities

17 March – 10 April

Yukari Kaihori

In Searching of Deities

The non-human agent, object and our immediate environment.

The past year was eventful. In addition to Covid-19, there were many political incidents and new radical social movements all over the world. It has been overwhelming and has made us wonder whether the world has gone crazy. However, when exposed to things that can overwhelm me, I like to remind myself that I need to connect to the reality of “here and now” and not to live in my ‘headspace’ too much. If everyone were to do this then eventually each of us could realise that the reality around us is not overwhelming or in conflict with ourselves. 

How we see things depends on what and how we believe. For my project In Searching for Deities, I examine different belief systems in opposition to Kantian theories that question the human-centric view of the world. This includes Object-Oriented Ontology (OOO), the ideas of Timothy Morton and Tetsurō Watsuji, and animistic beliefs like Shintoism. In doing so, I am also seeking ways to de-link from the progressive line of modernity as discussed by Walter Mignolo, the founder of the modernity/ coloniality school of thought. Following his position, I try not to participate in a hierarchical culture structure, but instead attempt to give back the power to the objects and spaces.  

Both Timothy Morton, a philosopher who works in the field of ecological studies, and Walter Mignolo, the scholar developed the argument that modernity and coloniality come together like light and shadow. As part of this comes how the meaning of the word “genius” was changed during the Romanticism movement of the 18th Century. Originally, ‘genius’ related to the spirits or deities residing in specific places. Before the 18th Century, saying ‘she has genius’ would have meant that the artist was positively influenced by the spirits. The spirit could inspire, protect and empower a person. In this sense the idea of ‘genius’ was similar to indigenous and animistic cultural values; the power belongs to places and without spirit man did not have the power to create. Colonization and modernization changed the meaning of ‘genius’. We now say ‘she is a genius’ as if she owns and possesses the power. In this project, I intend to use artworks that draw influence from the immediate environment: the exhibition space of RM gallery that comes with local deities and is attached to the community. The intention is to bring awareness to the “here and now”- the actual place we install works and with which we interact. 

Thought is given to considering objects and spaces as possessing spirits or being deities, which may motivate us to care more for our immediate environment. We may need to be aware of our immediate space, to be living ‘now’, and to be ecological. My recent studio practice is a site-specific project concerning the ‘here and now’ of the present time and space. By paying attention to a unique object or the space that one inhabits, the individual becomes more connected to the ‘now’. This installation aims to enhance and intensify the quality and characteristics of the existing space, including residues of artworks left from artists exhibited at RM. 

Sena Park – Aliveness_Symbiosis_on K-rd

Sena Park
Aliveness_Symbiosis_on K-rd
17th February – 13th March

We walk into human-made spider webs. The spider webs are exaggerated and modified from its natural size and form. We mingle with it. We can walk, rest, chat and eat freely around it ignoring its existence.

Humans are members of the ecological community on our planet, as are any other living organism. Unconsciously or consciously and intentionally or unintentionally, we break the balance and disturb our ecological system causing a global issue. Our complex society and relationships have balance and tension like the form of the spider web. My ongoing installation project Aliveness_Symbiosis represents that we live in our place without noticing that we are sharing our nature and living together with numerous cohabitants.

Daniel John Corbett Sanders – Urban Nothing

27 Jan – 13th Feb 2021

In space R
Daniel John Corbett Sanders
Urban Nothing

In Urban Nothing the ‘gay bathhouse’ is presented as a paradoxical figure of revolutionary utopia and commodity spectacle, as a fossilised archetype of social transformation and ruin of haunting cultural potential. Through queer narrative documentary, Sanders explores the sexually charged and commodity-entranced space of the gay bathhouse as a microcosm of late capitalism, and as an exemplary site for excavating how a queer perspective on inner-city reality might expose contradictions otherwise obscured by mythic narratives of progress. 

DANIEL JOHN CORBETT SANDERS (b.1994) is a Taranaki Pākehā multidisciplinary artist and independent curator. They studied at Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland and Auckland University of Technology. Their work investigates the dreams and catastrophes of recent urban history viewed through new queer narratives of inner-city life. Recent exhibitions include Social Practice, Tāmaki Makaurau, 2020; Intimate Atmospheres, Artspace Aotearoa, Tāmaki Makaurau, 2019; After Jack, Window Gallery, Tāmaki Makaurau, 2018; Under Your Skin You Look Divine, Basement Specialist Adult Store and Sex Club, Tāmaki Makaurau, 2018. In 2020 Sanders founded Parasite, an artist-run gallery prioritising the exhibition of LGBTQ+ artists.

Emelia French – Sun Room

27 Jan – 13th Feb 2021
In space M
Emelia French
Sun Room

A soft warm glow
The body is listening
With a heartfelt intelligence
And a hand to the soil
Practising subterranean logics

Prepare the atmosphere: arrange the space
Waiting for something to arrive
An almost imperceptible murmuring 
Sensing, intuiting, receiving, responding
My touch is light 
Things are left open 

Form entangling with action
A poetry of gestures and marks 
Exchanges, reciprocities
Interdependently growing forms 
A cosmic relationality 

Traces are stories of action 
Surface: the place where we meet
Felt on the edge of the skin 
Discolouration, dents, peelings, rust, stain, warping, shrinking, cracking
Material bathed in the sun 

A quiet authority
And a trembling resonance 
Hovering just in reach
Between being something and nothing

Poetic irregularities and variabilities
Word play and world play
The limits of language and representation
Similes, metaphors and meteors 
Composites and compost
Circulating associations
The reflection of a sunset speaks loudly of days


Emelia French (b. 1994, Taranaki, Aotearoa) is an artist and researcher living in Tāmaki Makaurau. She is currently completing her PhD in Visual Arts at AUT University. Her practice is processual and transdisciplinary and includes storytelling, ceramics, painting, photography, bookmaking, metal-work and sculpture. 

The final line of this exhibition text, read as “The reflection of the sunset speaks loudly of days”, is a sentiment borrowed from Agnes Martin (journal entry, 1988). 

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