A reply to Ava Seymour

 

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The Dunedin Public Art Gallery and the Hocken are currently holding a retrospective of Frances Hodgkins Fellows. The fellowship has been running since the 60s, it brings artist to Dunedin to for a year of full-time art-making. It’s a wonderful exhibition to visit.

One of the works in the retrospective is Ava Seymour’s 2001 Prototype #1 (pictured above).

It shows Central Otago rock formations, with giant bones overlaid. The accompanying blurb explains that Seymour “doesn’t associate that landscape with humans… more with dinosaurs.”

To me, Seymour’s work, like Graham Sydney’s seems to hide the long history and present reality of human activity in the area.

Below is an image I made in response, featuring some of what I associate with the Central Otago landscape.

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Images sourced from: The Otago Daily Times Regions Section, Willian F. Heinz Bright Fine Gold, and my family’s personal collection.

Boundlessness

An artist, Noriko Nakamura, had become angry at life’s boundaries. Frustrated at the divisions they create, she cut a clean circular hole through an art gallery’s internal wall. It was suppose to be an act of careful poetic defiance. However, in the process of doing so she revealed that inside the wall there was actually already another wall. […]

boundaries

An artist, Noriko Nakamura, had become angry at life’s boundaries. Frustrated at the divisions they create, she cut a clean circular hole through an art gallery’s internal wall.

It was suppose to be an act of careful poetic defiance.

However, in the process of doing so she revealed that inside the wall there was actually already another wall.

A wall within a wall.

Nakamura writes that upon seeing this second wall she thought, “the boundary will always be a boundary.” She then “got frustrated and started hammering the inside wall.”

No more clean lines.

A second (more violent?) act.

Gillian Rose, a philosopher, warns against the destruction of boundaries. She writes a reply to Nakamura, 3 decades before Nakamura cuts the gallery’s wall:

“A soul which is not bound is as mad as one with cemented boundaries. To grow in love-ability is to accept the boundaries of oneself and others, while remaining vulnerable, woundable, around the bounds.”

Rose warns not to make boundaries concrete, but not to make boundaries vanish either.

 

Little obsessions

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1.

We drove down the South Island

with all our possessions.

Three of us, taking turns at sitting in the back seat

where toasters fell onto my lap occasionally

and provincial views were obscured by tramping packs.

In the back seat, I slowly became a luggage.

I even empathised with the suitcases.

2. 

We visited my mum

who was painting.

Three of us, undercoating the bedroom walls

where white paint ran onto stained wood widows

and old bedding lay across old carpet to keep it safe.

In that bedroom, my mum had slowly become a paint brush.

We all understood that.

3. 

We began writing CVs and Cover Letters

full of mostly accurate accounts of ourselves.

Two of us, proof-reading each others half-truths

where marginal ability became proficiency

and a passing hobby snuck its way into my Interests section.

At my laptop, I slowly become a Cover Letter.

Able only to speak in short and enthusiastic sentence structures.

You have to break up being a Cover Letter some how. We did this by watching Werner Herzog films, letting other peoples obsessions distract us from the mundane-ness of our own.