As part of our programme at Gus Fisher Gallery we have a dedicated site-specific space for artistic response called The Booth. This is an architecturally distinct area which once housed the original telephone booth for the building during the era occupied by TVNZ. Situated in the central Dome Gallery and near to the entrance, The Booth is a two metre high recess which is characteristic of a booth or cubicle. The uniqueness of the space lends itself to artistic responses in all media and will be a repository for new and experimental site-specific practices.
Gus Fisher Gallery circulates an annual call-out for proposals from artists to respond to this space. All proposals are judged anonymously in order to focus on the strength of concept and to counter categories of ‘emerging, mid-career and established’ to delineate an artist’s career stage. Selections are made by the Curator of Contemporary Art.
Vanessa Crofskey & Kimmi Rindel
Now You See Me
Wellbeing Analysis Techniques Limited
13 February – 8 May
Now You See Me, a pop-up vanity room delivers a digitally mediated space for self-reflection. A DIY two-way ‘smart’ mirror on the centre wall acts as both a screen and a mirror, projecting real-time updates of current events, world news, weather reports and traffic information.
In speaking to science-fictive ideas of domestic space — a screen in every room, everyday objects made smart — Now You See Me promotes a semblance of helpfulness; of multitasking, time-saving, while embodying the merging of rituals, of internalised and actualised surveillance.
2020 Artists in The Booth:
1 August – 17 October: Zheng Nuanzhi, Like an addiction I wept for the place I could not access, 2019
Like an addiction I wept for the place I could not access reframes the typical nuclear family often portrayed in television sitcoms. The artwork’s title is a line from Jessica Lim’s poem ‘teen murders and constellations (dreams of misanthropy after Valerie Solanos, 2017)’.
Set within a void-like space, the video cycles through endless re-runs where the couch acts as the site where father, mother, son and daughter come together and clash with each other. Their performances subvert typical gender roles and draw on the queer theoretical concept of a ‘found family’, as the characters forge a new understanding of kinship.
Dream-like musical sequences interrupt the sitcom narrative, depicting the mother actor in drag performing to the song ‘I Enjoy Being A Girl’. Her performance is accompanied by Oriental and Western cinematic aesthetics, a colonial rivalry heightened by the mythos of media.
Zheng’s exploration of womanhood is extended beyond the screen by a variety of pot plants that acknowledge the artist’s mother. Unseen domestic and immigrant labour underscores the plants, drawing on Val Plumwood’s Master Model Theory which positions the woman as an invisible worker whom the master both relies upon and ignores.
Zheng Nuanzhi is our second artist in The Booth for 2020. The Booth is a space for site-specific proposals, open annually for applications from artists across any career stage.
15 February – 2 May; extended 19 May – 27 June: Miranda Bellamy, Pathfinding, 2020
Inspired by the artist’s 2019 winter residency in Vermont, USA, Pathfinding repurposes the classic word-search puzzle. The grid of letters filling the space may initially appear incoherent, but from this jumble words begin to emerge. Hidden words include those used in medical terminology, chosen by Bellamy for their significance to her personal experience of transition.
Each letter is formed by looping and tying fluorescent pink trail tape, which is scattered through the many hiking trails surrounding the Vermont Studio Center. Trail tape is used to help hikers stay on intersecting paths through the forest, and this method of path-finding is interpreted in Bellamy’s work as an analogy for finding direction through questioning and exploring gender.
Featuring fluorescent pink, Bellamy’s work references the connotations that come with this colour. It seeks to illuminate and call into question the politisation of trans-bodies, social expectations of gender-performativity and the problematic rise of the ‘gender’ reveal stunt.
2019 Artists in The Booth:
28 September – 14 December: Matilda Fraser, Poet No. 2, 2019
Poet No. 2 is a mechanical sculpture in the form of a Brutalist-style vending machine. Poet No.2 deals with the notion of circulation, in both a textual and monetary sense. Upon inserting a NZ$1 coin, the machine will produce a printed 14-line sonnet, made up of random lines of text generated from an archive of the last 60 years of New Zealand poetry published in national literature journals and periodicals such as Landfall, Sport, Takahe, Turbine, and others. These poems are printed on thermal receipt paper for the viewer or user to take away.
6 July – 7 September: Sophie Mahon, Fault Lines, 2019
Fault Lines is located in the space that housed the building’s original telephone booth. Now used for artists to produce site-specific installations, Fault Lines is the second in a series of works chosen for The Booth.
While temporarily resident in New Zealand, Mahon spent time photographing the visual intricacies of the volcanic and geothermal landscape. Following visits to Rotorua and areas in the South island, Fault Lines speaks of global uncertainties and a human fragility in an environment where Mother Nature continually threatens to take hold. Mahon has carved a fissure in the work, recalling a crack in the ground from a seismic earthquake or the flow of a river or stream. Fault Lines suggests a fragile climate which is prone to snap at any moment, and for the artist this fault extends to people’s ability to connect to each other and the world around them.
The accompanying audio comprises includes those captured underwater, of malfunctioning technology and of clay cracking. the sounds of dried clay cracking and breaking apart underwater alongside recordings of malfunctioning technology.
6 April – 15 June: Elke Finkenaur, Members Club, 2019
Members Club borrows its title from the nearby Northern Club, an exclusive members club built on the site of the first section sold at Auckland’s inaugural controlled land sale in 1841. These clubs were socially and culturally exclusive – the Northern Club did not admit women until 1991. Members Club uses the upholstery style and material of a Chesterfield sofa, an item often seen inside these clubs, to consider forms of exclusion. The upholstered façade symbolises a door or blocked form of entry to a hidden space within.
Members Club is the first in a series of site-specific installations located in the space of the building’s original telephone booth.