Auckland Art Fair, The Right Place?

24 - 28 February 2021


The Right Place? — the 2021 Auckland Art Fair presentation of Jhana Millers Gallery — features work by six early-career artists: Will BennettHarry CulyTyne GordonAyesha Green, and Elisabeth Pointon of Aotearoa, and Lucy O’Doherty of Australia. The title ofthe show was a relatively late development. Millers’ initial intention was to focus on the dark sensibility of the ‘Antipodean Gothic’, an extension of the notion of the ‘New Zealand Gothic’, associated especially with Pākehā artists who rose to prominence in the 1990s, such as Tony de Lautour and the late Bill Hammond. Culy has long declared his interest in the Antipodean Gothic, both as an aesthetic and as a means of evoking sensations of apprehension. Millers was struck by the extent to which other younger artists — including Bennett, Gordon, and O’Doherty — shared an interest in the sombre and unsettling, particularly as expressions of an awareness of the effects of settler colonialism and environmental degradation in Australasia.

Such awareness is detectable in the work of Green and Pointon, artists of Māori and South Asian heritage respectively, as is a certain gothic quality. Green plays with colonial systems of knowledge and Victoriana with a fanciful edge. Pointon’s works often have a dark humour to them, and can suggest troubling situations, actual and potential. Ultimately, however, Millers felt that it was more meaningful to frame the interests of the selected artists more broadly, emphasising their diverse relationships with that old obsession in this part of the world: the physical-cultural environment in which we find ourselves. In 2021, Aotearoa is one of the few locations in which the staging of a conventional art fair can even be imagined. To the on-looking world, this appears the right place to be. But being conscious of hubris (the right place is only so at the right time), the range and extent of looming catastrophes, and — to paraphrase Allen Curnow — the stains of blood that write our stories, it seems only appropriate for Millers to append a question mark. Place is a given, but it can also be queried and changed. 

Francis McWhannel

Installation Views
Group Exhibition
Auckland Art Fair, The Right Place ?
Jhana Millers Gallery