August 7, 2013

All There Is Left: Lieko Shiga, Paul Johns, Francis Alÿs

Adam Art Gallery at Victoria University of Wellington
Lieko Shiga, No. 28, from the “RASEN KAIGAN (THE SPIRAL SHORE)” series, 2008-2013. Courtesy of the artist.

Curated by Christina Barton, Michelle Menzies, Laura Preston

…when the poetic operation manages to provoke that sudden loss of self that itself allows a distancing effect from the immediate situation, then poetics might have the potential to open up a political situation.
—Francis Alÿs

Dwelling on the creative afterlife of images and the grounding potential of the poetic gesture, this exhibition showcases the imaginative productions of two artists: Lieko Shiga (North Japan) and Paul Johns (Christchurch), who have survived the recent earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand. Their projects are accompanied by Reel-Unreel, an installation by Francis Alÿs commissioned for dOCUMENTA (13), and screened in Kabul, Afghanistan in 2012.

“All there is left” was New Zealand-based curator Ken Hall’s description of the image archive of pre-earthquake Christchurch. Taking the resilience and potential embedded in this phrase as its point of departure, the exhibition brings together artists whose encounter with catastrophe turns to an affirmation of images as imaginative tools capable of investing its aftermath with reflection and hope.

Dwelling on the human side of disaster, Lieko Shiga, Paul Johns, and Francis Alÿs each use narrative and performative gestures to restore shattered connections between people and places, and to reaffirm the relationship between past and present. In these artists’ hands the camera is not merely a device to fix reality. Photographs and film are treated as material artefacts that can establish living links with their subjects. They are also trusted as totemic vehicles to communicate the ineffable dimensions that make life meaningful.

All There Is Left is accompanied by artist talks from Lieko Shiga and Francis Alys, and “After The Event,” a day symposium. For more information, see

Symposium: “After the Event”
The aim is not to disturb the stability, but to provide strategies for adaptation when transformation occurs. Even more, [to] celebrate change and the energies driving it, as the essence of existence.
—Lebbeus Woods

Keynote Lecture
Joseph Becker, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, co-curator of Lebbeus Woods, Architect
Friday 9 August, 6pm

Day Symposium
Saturday 10 August, 10-6pm

What is the role of imaginative life in memorialisation and reconstruction? In this day of talks and presentations, artists, architects, writers, and designers describe projects reflecting on loss and renewal in the wake of natural disaster. Joseph Becker’s keynote describes the oeuvre of Lebbeus Woods, a visionary who dedicated his career to interrogating potential transformations of individual and collective space.

Lieko Shiga’s exhibition and visit to New Zealand have been made possible with assistance from the Asia New Zealand Foundation. It will also be presented at the Physics Room, Christchurch in October 2013.

Joseph Becker’s visit is funded by New Zealand Institute of Architects. His lecture in Wellington is co-hosted with School of Architecture, Victoria University of Wellington.

For further information, please contact Michelle Menzies, [email protected].

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 which 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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