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Unnerved - The New Zealand Project at NGV

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by Vanessa (subscribe)
WeekendNotes Chief Editor / Chief Writer / PR & Communications.
The National Gallery of Victoria is currently hosting the Queensland Art Gallery exhibition 'Unnerved -
The New Zealand Project
'.



This touring exhibition primarily focuses on displaying artworks by contemporary New Zealand artists - 26 artists in fact, but in particular as the title of the exhibition suggests, 'Unnerved' wants to unsettle it's audience, to affect them - that seems to be the purpose of the exhibition. However it's not all images of silent darkness, there is also much humour to be found among the 100 pieces on display - dating back to the 1960s.

Composed of an array of paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures, installations, film and video art - you will most certainly find yourself entertained, baffled and humoured by most of the content on display - but what is unique about each piece is it is also simultaneously exploring the cultural identity of New Zealand.

Expect to view the works of artists such as Michael Parekowhai, whose over-sized sculptures will immediately displace you - ('The Horn of Africa' is wonderful), equally affecting are the large-scale photographs by Anne Noble - in particular her 'Ruby's Room' series, which present a sequence of images focused on a mouth of a young child - it is playful and yet there is an underlying darkness as the child's mouth appears somewhat gagged and in another the ruby lips rest on barbed wire.

Another photographic and multimedia artist is Lisa Reihanam, whose series of images entitled 'Digital Marae' explore Maori identity. Like iconic photographs of ancestors, these beautiful stylised images are a direct link to the history of New Zealand, and remain imposing and thought-provoking. Paintings by John Pule also feature in the exhibition. Pule who is also a well-regarded novelist and poet, focuses on Niuean colonial.

The works of Gavin Hipkins are a highlight, in 'The Homely' series the artist is exploring the landscape of New Zealand - there is a touch of the surreal in his imagery. The works of Yvonne Todd are equally strong and otherworldly. Short films are also on display - there is Campbell Patterson's 'Chewing Brothers' - as the title suggests it is a minimalist video of two brothers chewing gum. Another slightly off-kilter addition is Sriwhana Spong's haunting 'Candlestick Park', as well as Nathan Pohio's works, which 'recreate' the discovery of New Zealand.

The collective works explored in this exhibition, are incredibly revealing about New Zealand, and provide a sense that it's people are looking to their past, to explore their future. Still, while the history of New Zealand reigns heavily in this exhibition - there is much modernity to be found - whether it is the technology used in the respective artworks, the pop-culture references or the new found techniques - New Zealand's contemporary artists view their homeland as a place between the old-world and the new-world.

If you a NGV Member, there is a special opportunity entitled 'Everything you ever wanted to know about New Zealand art but were too afraid to ask', with Justin Paton, Senior Curator of Christchurch Art Gallery and kids can participate in Art Sparks, a series of free events, in which kids can learn about Maori and Polynesian culture. Please note Parent/Guardian supervision is required at this event. For details regarding the dates of this event please visit the NGV website.

Also free screening of the wonderful feature film Whale Rider, is scheduled for 28 January, 2011 at 1.30pm.



The exhibition is also complemented with a screening of a collection of short films entitled 'New Zealand Noir.' This special event will occur on 29 January 2011 at 2.30pm to 4.00pm. This event, like the exhibition is FREE and 'Unnerved' will close on February 27 2011, so there is still time to explore this excellent exhibition, which is sure to leave an impression on you.
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Why? Explore New Zealand through the eyes of it's artists
When: 26 Nov 2010 - 27 Feb 2011
Where: National Gallery of Victoria
Cost: Exhibition is Free - For Special Events check website for price
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