Ruth Buchanan <em>The scene in which I find myself / Or, where does my body belong</em> 2019, installation view Govett-Brewster Art Gallery. Photo Sam Hartnett

Ruth Buchanan The scene in which I find myself / Or, where does my body belong 2019, installation view Govett-Brewster Art Gallery. Photo Sam Hartnett

The Friction in the Collection / Or, Ruth Buchanan Rubs up Against the Govett-Brewster

The Pantograph Punch

27 Jan 2020

Ruth Buchanan’s The scene in which I find myself / Or, where does my body belong marks the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery’s 50-year anniversary. Lucinda Bennett writes about the discomfort, and the sheer joy of discovery.

Let me set the scene. It is 1982, and the Govett-Brewster is the sole public contemporary art gallery in Aotearoa. You walk through the doors and are surrounded by artworks hung floor to ceiling. What seems like every single work from the collection is out, salon-hung for a truly maximalist exhibition experience. You soon learn that this is indeed the case: with the exception of a few sculptures and delicate works on paper, you are standing amidst the entire Govett-Brewster collection.

Titled The Great De-Accession Exhibition, this is no eccentric curatorial exercise. The exhibition has been mounted to give the public an opportunity to view the collection in its entirety, so an informed decision might be made as to which works are ‘relevant’, and should therefore be held onto.

This was – and still is – an unusual scene.


To read the full article see New Zealand's arts and culture journal The Pantograph Punch.


This article is presented as part of a partnership with the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre.

The Govett-Brewster is unique among collecting institutions ... its collection is relatively young, and unlike many of its peers, the Govett-Brewster was not bequeathed a cumbersome collection.