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A restoration of rooms found only in the home: Acclaimed artists challenging how we look at things come to Victoria University of Wellington

Top image: Marie Shannon’s The Rat in the Lounge (1985)

Adam Art Gallery at Victoria University of Wellington is presenting the work of Auckland-based artist Marie Shannon. The exhibition, Rooms found only in the home, has previously been shown at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery.

It is paired with A RESTORATION, a 15-minute, two-channel video installation by British artist Elizabeth Price. It’s the first time the work by the award-winning artist has been shown in New Zealand.

Shannon has been making photographs for 30 years, and more recently has expanded her practice to videos. Adam Art Gallery director Christina Barton says: “Marie Shannon may not be a household name, but she should be. She’s an artist with a clear and consistent practice. Her photographs demonstrate her incredible construction skills and reveal her wry imagination.”

Shannon’s photographs draw on her home life and her most intimate relationships. They capture simple, everyday moments such as reading by the fire, going to the supermarket, typical family life, and the layout of domestic spaces. They also relate to her life as an artist, which she shared with her partner and fellow artist, the late Julian Dashper.

Adam Art Gallery curator Stephen Cleland says Shannon is of a generation of artists who were trained in the 1980s to question the assumption that a “photograph could not lie.” Cleland says Shannon fight back against this idea by making photographs that stand in for reality. Her images either show the models she makes from simple materials such as fur, pipe-cleaners and felt, or serve as the ground on which words appear. “Rather than reveal herself, she models a world of her own making,” says Cleland.

Cleland adds that, like Shannon, Price shares an under-the-radar public profile. “Although she won the Turner Prize—Britain’s most prestigious award—in 2012, few may be familiar with her practice. This is largely because as an artist, she prefers to immerse herself in each project that can take years of intense research to realise.”

Born in the UK in 1966, Price has exhibited her work around the world, including the Chisenhale Gallery in London, The Stedelijk in Amsterdam, the Swedish Contemporary Art Foundation in Stockholm, London’s Hayward Gallery, the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World in New York, the Berlin Natural History Museum, the Chicago Institute of Art, and more. She is currently working on exhibitions for the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the Nottingham Contemporary and the Whitworth in the UK, and The Void in Derry. In other words, to say she’s busy would be an understatement.

Work from Elizabeth Price’s A RESTORATION (2016).

Price has delved deep into archives and museum collections to find material to create sensuous and immersive video installations that revisit historical events and reimagine historical sites. The visual imagery is complemented by soundtracks and written and spoken narratives. A RESTORATION offers local audiences an introduction to her practice. This particular work draws on collections from the University of Oxford’s Ashmolean and Pitt Rivers museums, which are world-renowned for their art, archaeology and ethnography collections and scholarship.

After winning a commission to make a work based on these collections, Price became intrigued by the archives of Sir Arthur Evans, who was responsible for the excavations of the famed Minoan palace complex at Knossos on the island of Crete.

Adam Art Gallery’s Barton says Price’s video installation uses Evans’ historical records and images of the objects to “reflect on our very human desire to restore the past by preserving its material traces.”

Barton says more, too. “I am excited to see Shannon and Price’s works together. Both understand the power objects and images hold as historical vestiges, but they also give new life to such things through their constructive processes. There is a playfulness, poignancy and charge to both their practices.”

Rooms found only in the home and A RESTORATION open on Friday, April 27 at Adam Art Gallery Te P?taka Toi at Victoria University of Wellington. They will be showing until June 24. Admission is free.

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