22 Jan 2020
...For the last 50 years, the region’s largest city, New Plymouth, has been home to the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, a contemporary art museum that has exhibited and collected chiefly New Zealand art. To mark this anniversary, Govett-Brewster’s co-directors, Aileen Burns and Johan Lundh, who joined the museum last year, invited artist Ruth Buchanan to develop an exhibition of work from the collection.
Buchanan, who is based in Berlin but was born in New Plymouth and is of Te Atiawa, Taranaki, and Pākehā (or European) descent, worked closely with the museum staff to install 292 pieces across the museum.
Buchanan is acutely sensitive to language and the body, and these concerns shape her foray into the institution. Her methodology is feminist, seeking horizontal relations, and influenced by Donna Haraway’s “split and contradictory self” and Audre Lorde’s exhortation to “bear the intimacy of scrutiny.”1 Each of the museum’s five galleries is dedicated to a decade in the museum’s fifty-year history, moving from the 1970s to the 2010s. Buchanan has internally organized each gallery using keywords, including “Legs,” “Hands,” “Female,” “Male,” “Living,” and “No longer living.”
...These galleries are full. Full of paintings skied to the ceiling and hung cheek-to-cheek, art in and under stairwells, and massive works sitting uncomfortably next to small ones, given little of the space to breathe afforded by a conventional hang. This is all deliberate...