May 1, 2012

Dark Sky

Adam Art Gallery at Victoria University of Wellington
Wolfgang Tillmans, Venus transit, 2004.
Unframed archival inkjet print, 2000 x 1380 mm.*

Dark Sky, the Adam Art Gallery’s latest exhibition opening on 1 May, explores how photography has been deployed to capture the skies. Delving into the intersections between science, art, and commerce, the exhibition brings together a range of images and artworks from 1874 to the present. These range from pocket-sized Real-Photo Postcards, to digital prints sent from space, to large-scale contemporary images and multipart installations, made by artists, astronomers, professional photographers, and unmanned spacecraft. Timed to coincide with the second and last Transit of Venus that will take place this century (on 6 June 2012), the exhibition provides an occasion to think through our fascination for the celestial realm and examine its technological and visual consequences.

Curated by Geoffrey Batchen with Christina Barton.

Dark Sky is conceived by Geoffrey Batchen, leading photographic historian and theorist and Professor of Art History, and curated with Christina Barton, contemporary art historian and Director of the Adam Art Gallery, Victoria University of Wellington. Pooling their skills and knowledge they have produced a striking line-up of historical and contemporary items, ranging from photographs by Hermann Krone—a professional photographer on the German expedition to the Auckland Islands, who documented the Transit of Venus in 1874—to contemporary German artist, Wolfgang Tillmans, who presents a body of work based, in part, on his life-long passion for astronomy and which includes a series of photographs he took of the Transit in 2004.

The exhibition also includes substantial groupings of images by David Stephenson (Australia), Trevor Paglen (USA), and Eric Lee-Johnson (New Zealand) and single works by Colin McCahon (NZ), Ann Shelton (NZ), and Thomas Ruff (Germany). Two New Zealand artists have been commissioned to create new works for the exhibition. Stella Brennan is using research she has undertaken into the Soviet Union’s Venera space programme of the 1980s to develop a sound installation, and Simon Ingram has built an inflatable antenna that will translate electromagnetic waves into instructions that will drive a machine to produce a new ‘radio painting.’

Dark Sky is complemented by a fully illustrated catalogue with an essay by Geoffrey Batchen and a public programme that will bring scientists, artists, historians, and writers together to respond to the occasion. A highlight will be a panel discussion with German and New Zealand poets who have been invited to observe and respond to the Transit of Venus by the International Institute of Modern Letters and Goethe-Institut. See the calendar here.

Dark Sky has received major support from the Australian High Commission; Goethe-Institut; IFA (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen); the MacDiarmid Institute and the Art History Research Cluster at Victoria University of Wellington. The Adam Art Gallery also acknowledges the support of the Faculty of Science, Victoria University of Wellington; the National Institute of Creative Arts and Industry at University of Auckland; and the Royal Society of New Zealand.

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.

If you require further information please contact Therese Lloyd
[email protected] / +64 4 463 5229

*Image above:
Wolfgang Tillmans (b. 1968, Germany/UK). Venus transit, 2004.
Unframed archival inkjet print, 2000 x 1380 mm.
Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Buchholz, Cologne.

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