January 24, 2012

Camera Work at the Adam Art Gallery

Adam Art Gallery at Victoria University of Wellington
Fiona Amundsen, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum Main Building, Hiroshima, 29/03/2010, 6.28 (shadows and people).
Courtesy McNamara Gallery.

Fiona Amundsen The First City in History
John Lake The Campus
Simon Starling Autoxylopyrocycloboros
Kohei Yoshiyuki The Park

Camera Work offers four different takes on photography. Loosely organised around the idea of photography as a research tool, these four projects offer different working methodologies and presentation techniques, to test the visibility of the medium and its claims to historical truth. In turn, the exhibition challenges and extends the documentary claims of the photographic medium. Camera Work is staged during the New Zealand International Arts Festival.

Fiona Amundsen‘s The First City in History (2010) forms part of a larger project, which tracks the impact of World War Two across parts of Asia and eventually the Pacific.  Focusing on the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, Japan, Amundsen uses the camera to closely study public space, embracing the medium’s indexical relation to reality to reconfigure how historical, cultural and political meanings are invested not in overt symbols located on site but through careful acts of perception, recognition, interpretation and extrapolation on the part of the viewer.

The Campus (2011) is John Lake‘s response to an invitation to capture life on campus at Victoria University of Wellington. Developed over the course of 2011, this project has produced a fascinating archive of visual material that will enter the university art collection as a suite of ten framed photographs, an artist’s book and an archive of raw video footage. Presented for the exhibition as a situation that invites discussion, The Campus shows how a research endeavour that set out to capture the mundane activities of university life turned into a quest to grant deeper insights into the social, cultural and political forces that power relations in this or any educational institution.

Simon Starling‘s Autoxylopyrocycloboros (2006) is a slide piece that tracks the reclamation and destruction of a small wooden steamboat on a loch in Scotland which is also base to Trident submarines that carry nuclear weapons as part of Britain’s defence programme. Using old technology (steam propulsion and slide projection), Starling offers a pointed critique of our all-too-human investment in progress that is at once absurd and telling.

During the 1970s, photographer Kohei Yoshiyuki frequented Tokyo’s Shinjuku, Yoyogi, and Aoyama parks at night. Armed with a 35mm camera infrared film, and filtered flash bulbs, he documented the men and women who gathered there for clandestine trysts, as well as others lurking in the bushes who watched them and sometimes participated in their couplings. According to Martin Parr, The Park is ‘a brilliant piece of social documentation, capturing perfectly the loneliness, sadness, and desperation that so often accompany sexual or human relationships in a big, hard metropolis like Tokyo.’

Camera Work will be accompanied by a public programme including a series of documentary film screenings presented at the New Zealand Film Archive during the month of March. Entitled Documents on Sculpture, the series explores notions of camera work as a sculptural and politicised act. For more details please review

The Park is a joint project with the Centre of Contemporary Photography, Melbourne and IMA, Brisbane. Fiona Amundsen’s The First City in History is supported by Asia New Zealand Foundation, New Zealand Japan Exchange Programme and Auckland University of Technology. John Lake’s project was commissioned for the Victoria University of Wellington Art Collection in 2011. Simon Starling’s work is staged in partnership with The Physics Room, Christchurch.

The Adam Art Gallery is the university 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 built 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 Curator Laura Preston
Email: [email protected]
Tel: +64 4 463 5229

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