Contemporary Art Museum


APR 22

Govett-Brewster’s winter shows tackle community and social issues

22 April 2010   

Yin Xiuzhen <em>Weapons</em> 2007 (detail). Installation view Anna Schwartz Gallery, Sydney, courtesy of the artist and Beijing Commune. Photograph by Paul Green Enlarge Image

Yin Xiuzhen Weapons 2007 (detail). Installation view Anna Schwartz Gallery, Sydney, courtesy of the artist and Beijing Commune. Photograph by Paul Green

Pertinent issues of community, consumption and change are at the heart of the winter suite of exhibitions coming soon to the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery.

The Gallery’s 2009/10 New Zealand Artist in Residence, Fiona Jack presents a collaborative archival endeavour delving deep into the rich history of Memorial Halls in New Zealand, while the final installment in the Gallery’s year-long investigation of contemporary Chinese art sees husband and wife, Song Dong and Yin Xiuzhen, incorporate domestic materials in their installations, which critique the dizzying rate of social change and urbanisation taking place in China today.

Fiona Jack: Living Halls
19 June – 5 September 2010

War Memorial Halls occupy an iconic place in the cultural and geographic landscape of Aotearoa New Zealand. Auckland artist Fiona Jack’s work looks at the significance and history of these buildings to our communities and national identity, as well as their function and status in today’s society.

Following the Second World War, the New Zealand Government offered subsidies for war memorials to be constructed throughout the country, with a strong preference indicated for the formation of new community spaces as 'living memorials' for those who sacrificed their lives fighting overseas. Jack’s Living Halls project, which spans almost two years (and counting) engages with this phenomenon.

Living Halls comprises accumulations of paintings, drawings, and photographs. The paintings are generous contributions from artists throughout the country and form a rich visual archive, reflecting close relationships between these buildings and their communities.

Govett-Brewster Director Rhana Devenport, who is curating the exhibition says: “Jack’s three months in Taranaki during the summer of 2009/10 as part of our Residency programme allowed the project to open out and become entwined with hundreds of souls across Aotearoa, whose involvement with the story of War Memorial Halls in New Zealand was particular, personal and until then, somewhat invisible. The archival and research nature of the project has unearthed innumerable architectural plans, drawings, histories, memories and stories.”

A book about the project, co-produced by the Govett-Brewster and art publisher Clouds is due out later in the year. Fiona Jack is the 2009/10 Govett-Brewster New Zealand Artist in Residence, a major partnership with Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki (WITT) supported by Creative New Zealand.

China in four seasons: Song Dong + Yin Xiuzhen
19 June – 12 September 2010

Beijing-based Song Dong has been a significant figure in the development of Chinese contemporary art since the early 1990s. He has exhibited at prestigious art fairs and institutions across the globe such as the 2006 Gwangju Biennale, South Korea; The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), New York in 2009; and later this year at the Liverpool Biennale.

Incorporating photography, installation and video, he explores notions of transience, consumption and impermanence; notions shared by a community of Beijing-based conceptual artists responding to their country’s relentless and unprecedented march into the future.

Song Dong’s wife Yin Xiuzhen, also at the forefront of contemporary Chinese art, has also exhibited widely, including the 2007 Venice Biennale; the 7th Shanghai Biennale, 2008; and earlier this year at MOMA. Her often large-scale installations and sculptural works incorporate the use of everyday objects such as clothing and textiles as well as automobiles and aeroplanes to comment on development, urbanisation and globalisation – key factors of China’s integration into the global economy and power system within a domestic and personal frame.

China in four seasons: Song Dong + Yin Xiuzhen is curated by Gallery Director Rhana Devenport and will comprise two parts. The first part will present recent installations and video works from both artists, while the second part – entitled Song Dong + Yin Xiuzhen: The Govett-Brewster Projects – will feature new commissions by the Gallery for its fortieth year. Song Dong’s installation will be in collaboration with his eight-year-old daughter Song ErRui, while Yin Xiuzhen will undertake an off-site project. Both installations will open on Saturday 21 August.

The Govett-Brewster wishes to acknowledge the support of the following organisations in delivering the winter suite of exhibitions: Radio Network Taranaki, Te Kairanga Wines, Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki (WITT), Creative New Zealand and the Asia New Zealand Foundation.


Song Dong and Yin Xiuzhen will be in the country late July to late August. Fiona Jack is based in Auckland and will be in New Plymouth for the installation of her exhibition.

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