May 19, 2014

Kim Pieters: what is a life?

Adam Art Gallery at Victoria University of Wellington
Kim Pieters, letting the days go by, 2013. Mixed media on board,
600 x 820mm. From the “arbitrary knowledges” series.
Private collection, Dunedin. © Kim Pieters.

what is a life? brings together paintings, drawings, photographs, and moving-image soundscapes by artist Kim Pieters (b. 1959, New Zealand). Surveying her output since 2007, it focuses on the range of works she has been producing in and from her inner harbour studio in central Dunedin.

To ask the question ‘what is a life?’ is to test the deepest purposes of being an artist. For Pieters, this is a necessary interrogation that informs her engagement with material reality. Informed by her readings in philosophy, poetry, literature, and history she explores the space between her life, world, and the conscious processes that grant meaning to the facts of living. Her resulting artworks are improvisatory and open-ended. They require responses that are together mental, perceptual, and sensuous, and posit answers to the big questions that sit alongside empirical, metaphysical, or logical ways of knowing.

Since 1993, Kim Pieters has lived and worked in Dunedin, where she is an integral figure in the art and experimental music scenes. For more than two decades, her paintings and drawings have been included in exhibitions throughout New Zealand and, through the 1990s, she was known for her bass playing and vocals in underground ensembles such as Dadamah, Rain, Flies inside the Sun, Pieters/Russell/Stapleton, DoraMaar and Sleep. In performance, these often featured Pieters’ moving-image projections. With musician, writer and curator Peter Stapleton, she founded the Metonymic music label and, in 2000, began the Dunedin experimental music festival Lines of Flight.

This exhibition is the first to bring together the full range of Pieters’ practice and her first survey in a public institution. The exhibition will be launched at 6pm on Tuesday 27 May with a unique performance by Eye, a trio of experimental musicians—Peter Stapleton, Peter Porteous, and Jon Chapman—all with long histories of involvement in New Zealand underground music. Their performance of improvised psychedelic drones will be accompanied by Kim Pieters’ projected film.

A fully illustrated catalogue documenting this exhibition will be available from the Adam Art Gallery and good bookstores in July.

what is a life? is accompanied by RELOAD: Kirk Gallery Series 2014:

Shannon Te Ao, Follow the Party of the Whale, 27 May–29 June
Hito Steyerl, Is the Museum a Battlefield? 4 July–11 August
Eddie Clemens, Collector’s Edition Glitch, 15 August–21 September

These are one-work moving-image installations that each revisits a charged history and loaded sites by means of a canny re-deployment of digital media.

For further information, please contact Ann Gale, [email protected].

Adam Art Gallery
Victoria University of Wellington
Gate 3, Kelburn Parade
PO Box 600
New Zealand 6140
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday, 11am–5pm
Free entry

The Adam Art Gallery is the university art gallery of Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand. It is a forum for critical thinking about art and its histories as well as the professional structure within which the Victoria University Art Collection is managed. The gallery has a considerable reputation for its programmes that explore the full range of media available to artists and aim to test and expand art form and disciplinary boundaries. The gallery is a remarkable architectural statement designed by Ian Athfield, one of New Zealand’s foremost architects



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