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.
Deanna Dowling, Notes on time
26 June – 4 September
As stated by artist, ‘It is the smallest details in our architecture that help us to understand the built environment both historically and socially, every starch, crack or worn surface. Walls layer over time, strata of history within them. It is the repetitive nature of the routines we have and places we regularly visit that enable us to notice these things. Through the cumulation of our encounters, the soul of architecture and its historic fabric are made.’
Deanna Dowling’s site-specific intervention will involve sanding away the layers of paint on the interior walls of The Booth, revealing the past treatment and history of the surface. This mimics the gradual wearing down of surfaces through repetitive human touch, such as a well-used stair rail or the changing patina of a brass handle. Traces of interactions within lived spaces are revealed through this wear and tear, adding to a building’s layered history rather than being seen as material decay.
Emily Parr (Ngāi Te Rangi, Moana, Pākehā)
25 September – 18 December
The work will consider The Booth as a kind of communicative portal, able to send and receive messages across time and space. During the First World War, Emily Parr’s great-great-grandfather was interned on Motuihe under suspicion of aiding the Germans. The Jewish merchant spent several years separated from his Sāmoan wife and their ten children. The family’s very cosmopolitan home, Oli Ula, stood beside the brick wall from which Te Wai Ariki emerges today, and just along the road from the Gus Fisher Gallery. Among her family’s archive from this period are messages that travelled between postal censors and military authorities; the family and the government; the island and Oli Ula.
As stated by the artist, ‘Imagining tuatara and Te Wai Ariki as witnesses to these family histories unfolding across Tīkapa Moana and utilising The Booth as a means of conveyance, my work will link Motuihe and Oli Ula; 2021 and the early twentieth century; my ancestors and I.’