Friday, 19 October 2012

More modern

Tonight is the opening at City Gallery Wellington for Ben Cauchi's survey exhibition The Sophist's Mirror.

A few months ago I was asked by the good people at the Gallery to give a talk about Cauchi's show near the end of the season. It's been lovely to have this super-extended lead time to mull over my thoughts, and I'm looking forward to dropping by the show frequently to test my ideas against the objects.

In the meantime, you should check out this episode of The Gravy featuring Cauchi, which gives a wonderful insight not just into how he works, but also how he thinks about his work (my favourite moment is when he talks about beautiful imperfections).

I also used the sets functionality on Digital New Zealand to bring together a selection of Cauchi's work with examples of the processes he uses: wet collodion plates, tintypes, ambrotypes, salt prints. This had the interesting result of making Cauchi's look more contemporary, not less.

It's also been interesting imagining the hang of a show I've not been at all involved in. For example, I see interesting visual and metaphorical resonances between the self-portraits and the portraits of cameras (I have always loved how the National Library uses 'portrait' to describe photos of non-humans, like motor vehicles). I wonder if that will be drawn out in the show. And I have noticed, going through the work on Cauchi's website, the repeated visual motif of the glowing heart in the centre of the photos - sometimes a glowing object, or a halo around an object, or simply a space that's made active by being lit up. I wonder if I will see this being repeated round the walls?

It all makes me wonder if there is something in offering people the opportunity to remix or rehang a show - on paper or online. Would visitors take it up, or is this something only a geek like me (by which I mean, a person with specialised and deeply committed areas of interest) would be keen to do?

1 comment:

Paula Bray said...

Thank you Courtney for introducing me to Cauchi's photographic work. It is stunning and and I love the passion that he puts into the whole process. Takes me back to the reasons I started photography in the first place.-Paula