Gallery brings together old and new installations in 'Plays On'

4 May 2010

This content is tagged as Visual arts .


Play On

8 May — 25 July 2010

They say that to replay the past is to come to terms with it. This is just what the artists and the exhibition that opens this Saturday at the Adam Art Gallery, in Victoria University, Wellington, sets out to do. Play On brings together for the first time four key installations made in the 1990s with a new work especially made for the occasion. They all have one thing in common: they all treat music as their subject.

The works are: Julian Dashper's The Big Bang Theory (1992-1993), Michael Parekowhai's Patriot: Ten Guitars (1999), Slave Piano's Slave Pianos (of the Art Cult) (1998-1999), and Terry Urbahn's The Karaokes (1995-1997), which are joined by Ava Seymour's 11 Bars of Oboe (2010).

Julian Dashper created fictitious rock bands whose names are the same as New Zealand's greatest artists. Entitled The Big Bang Theory his installation features a series of named drum kits including The Colin McCahons, The Hoteres, and The Anguses. Terry Urbahn's work is interactive and invites an audience to sing along to music videos made by fellow artists. Slave Pianos (Michael Stevenson with Australian collaborators, Danius Kesminus, Rohan Drape and Neil Kelly) allows the viewer to automate a grand piano which plays an archive of avant-garde sound art, and Michael Parekowhai's Ten Guitars with its paua-inlaid guitars aligned in sculptural formation recalls those Maori entertainers of the 1960s who brought their musical talent to the world of popular music.

Ava Seymour has been invited to add a new work to this stellar line-up. Her suite of 11 large-scale photographs recalls and encodes a secret history relating to New York's underground music scene of the 1960s and '70s.

One motive for the exhibition says Christina Barton, Director of the Adam Art Gallery and curator of the exhibition, "is to reflect on the ways in which artists in the 1990s made ambitious works that used music to ask serious questions about history, culture and identity, especially by referencing real artists and artworks."

Considering the significant ways these installations reflect on the social, cultural and critical turns of the 1990s and beyond, Play On raises important questions about what art is and how culture works.