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Eve Armstrong at Artspace
27 Nov 2005 - 29 Jan 2006

by John Hurrell


Eve Armstrong is a young Auckland artist whose work, though already seen in a few local group shows and publications, hardly has a national profile. So it is a surprise that Brian Butler, the new Director of ARTSPACE, has picked her for a solo show in a venue that normally has international solo gigs or national group shows.

As with the previous Francis Alys show - the presentation is tastefully minimal. [Tobias Berger, the previous director, favoured highly cluttered group exhibitions.] In the large square room Armstrong has constructed a small group of sprawling sculptures made of discarded packaging materials: mainly brown plastic tape on the floors or walls, stacked up bundles of crushed cardboard boxes, and rubbish bags filled with polystyrene detritus. They look quite formal, like a grunge Antony Caro -a sort of David Mach meets Robert Rauschenberg -but very restrained in its rejection of colour and use of limited materials. Like say, an et al installation, it has an understated beauty. She uses tape the way et al uses paint.

In the adjacent narrow room Armstrong has placed another sculpture - plus a selection of collages on the wall fastened to fridge trays and brackets. These collages on cardboard use tape combined with cutout images of boxes, bags, skips etc. Her work references itself [collages as working drawings for sculptures perhaps] and seems to celebrate the recycling of waste as art, much like Tomoko Takahashi does in London, but less messy and without the sweetness of say Kurt Schwitters or Jessica Stockholder. This is tough work, not seductive but undoubtedly intelligent in its explorations of space and tangential comments on consumerism. My favourite of recent ARTSPACE shows.

In the small third ARTSPACE gallery is a video installation by English artist Fiona Banner. All the world's fighter planes is a long sequence of photos of military aircraft, an uberlist like something that Patrick Pound would do with hoarded newspaper clippings, but more focused. Nice to see some work by a recent Turner prize finalist in Auckland.

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