Saturday, December 02, 2006

Das Blaue Haus

(Review from stimulusresponse)

Michael Lett in Wellington
The Blue House
7 Hawker Street
Mount Victoria

24 - 26 November 2006
12pm - 6pm


There is a red car (Toyota Starlet) parked at the end of the driveway and a bright aqua hose is attached to a tap on the side of the house. The house is painted a grey-blue with off-white trimmings. The entrance to the show is at the back of the house where there is a disused miniature soccer goal with a white ball resting in the grass behind it. Further around is a scooter covered in a blue "Vespa" tarp.

In The Hall:

On the wall to the right is a yellow-headed pin (Ryan Moore) stuck into the wall at roughly 1.5 meters height. It is in the right-hand third of one of the panels in the dark-brown wood-panelled wall. To the left of the pin is the door to The Bedroom, and to the right of the pin is a closed door.

To the left of the doorway to The Bedroom is a projected video by Campbell Patterson ("Rollerblading Around My Pants"). The projector (Sony) sits on top of the DVD player (Digitor) which, in turn, rests on two orange Veuve Clicquot champagne boxes. The projection is directly onto the wall and cuts across two panels, distorting where it crosses the ridge between them.

In the video, the artist, wearing a yellow t-shirt, black shorts, black rollerblades, and black wrist and knee protectors, rollerblades into the corner of a room. He takes off his shorts, struggling both because he is unstable on the rollerblades and because the rollerblades are difficult to get through the legs of the shorts. He throws the shorts into the foreground after initially placing them in the corner. Their white lining is now visible. He begins to rollerblade around the shorts shakily. Several times he loses balance, leaning on the wall and holding out his hands to avoid falling. He rollerblades anticlockwise for around thirteen minutes. When he finishes rollerblading he skates back to the camera and we see a flash of his shoulder, then his hair, then the movie resets: The shorts disappear from the floor, we see a flash of hair again, then he skates out to take the shorts off again.

Opposite the projection is a squarish black couch where Michael Lett and Ryan Moore are sitting and talking quietly. To the left of the couch are arranged four works by Rachel Walters: "Bird Bird" (a blue porcelain bird with its face covered in opaque all-purpose bathroom sealant with a smaller bird on a mirrored stand attached horizontally to the larger bird's left side), "Dove Game" (a stuffed or fake dove standing in brown no-more-nails on top of a blue and white puzzle with its wings raised awkwardly above its body), "Rabbit Box" (a ceramic rabbit with painted on eyelashes embedded in no-more-nails on a circular wooden plinth), and "Squirrel Vase" (a ceramic squirrel holding an acorn, its face buried beneath all-purpose bathroom sealant on which is mounted a small, bronze vase).

In The Living Room:

To the right of the doorway is a fireplace (no fire) which is tiled with mottled/tortoise-shell tiles in the shape and traditional layout of bricks. On the mantle above it is "Piss Shit Fuck" by Peter Madden. A smooth shape of gold foil sits beside a small plinth built into the mantlepiece. The foil is wrapped around a rock. On the foil are five flies, two arranged one on top of the other. The flies are painted with tiny skulls on their backs in a powdery paint. In the fireplace below there is a small piece of cardboard ("AGFA for colour prints") as well as ash and scorch marks.

Moving anti-clockwise, a tea-towel (Simon Denny - "Slump") hangs from the small ledge that circles the wood-panelled walls of the room well above head height. The tea-towel is green with many white golf-balls drawn on it. The golf-balls are labelled with numbers from 1 to 4.

Immediately to the left is a large construction, also by Simon Denny ("This Size"). One thick board stands upright some distance from the wall. Attached (white headed pins) to the side facing away from the wall are three pieces of beige paper. A crinkled piece of paper rests on the gap between the upright board, and another, thinner piece of board which curves up from the floor toward the wall. Where it meets the wall it traps some leaflets from the Warehouse against it ($248.64 for a set of swings, $299.94 for a trampoline, or $2.95 per week, some items 30% off). The two boards are supported in place by a further piece of card rolled into a tube which extends between them and on which the crinkled paper rests. At the top right, where the curving board meets the wall, is a small, decorative hook made of dark metal and nailed to the wall.

To the left is a work by Steve Carr framed in light-coloured wood ("Oil Painting") hung to fit in a single panel of the dark-wood wall, between two ridges. Inside the frame is the base of a used pizza box with a roughly circular oil stain on it, along with small pieces of crust and smears of topping. There is a slightly yellowed area in a triangular shape at the bottom right. The oil reveals the pinstriped nature of the base. There is a nail in the wall above and to the right of the work.

Further anticlockwise, on the window ledge of the rightmost window in the room, facing toward the city, is "Flowering Pencil" by Peter Madden. Embedded in a blob of a waxy substance is the pointed end of a stub of pencil. The shaft has been pared into a flowering of shavings still attached to the stub. A further four pared stubs are piled, one on top of the other. At the top is a full pencil with a black shaft, also pointing downward.

In The Bedroom:

Across The Hall from The Living Room is The Bedroom. In the middle of the floor is Eve Armstrong's "Slump." It is largely formed of a pile of rubbish bags (black, dirty orange, and brown). Also in the pile are dirty bricks, a rubber floor mat, flattened cardboard boxes, a green carpet, a fire-place grill, mottled green foam. One of the broken-down cardboard boxes reads "CURTAIN TIE BLA, 24 PCS/CTN, 12 PCS/INNER". One black bag has a tear in it, but all that can be seen is grey plastic. The floor has brown tape stuck down onto it which also fastens down some of the cardboard and a mat. It extends in strips outward toward the doorway. Another box reads "CUT TO OPEN CAREFULLY." The box to the far left of the room leans against a fireplace in which is a charred block of wood. The garbage bags are tied shut with their own tops in knots. It is possible to see through the plastic of one bag: Inside is a woven plastic bag.

On the wall to the left of the door out are four words in yellow neon: "LEANER", "FASTER", "STRONGER", and "SMARTER" (Ryan Moore). For each neon light, two cables hang down and attach to white boxes which are in turn plugged into two two-way splitters in a silver powerpoint. The white boxes also have short yellow wires extending from them capped in a small blue section and then a loop of metal. The white boxes read "Handen" and "Attention! Indoor use only!" Above the right-most white box is a phone jack. The neon is pale or white where it has been bent to form the letters. The letters are fixed to the wall with small, clear plastic attachments with thin wire twisted around the neon itself. The neon shifts in depth as well as in two dimensions (for instance, in creating an "N", the inner portions of the two angles curve inward to avoid one another). The letters in a single word (such as "SMARTER") are either joined to each other directly through the neon tube, in which case the portion of tube which is in neither letter is painted to be blank (for example, from A to R), or a thinner wire carries the connection between them (from R to T, for example).

On the floor in front of and to the right of the neon is a globe (Ryan Moore). The globe is mounted on a wooden stand and has a flat metal band around it, with the thin edge of the band pointing outward. The band has measurements in degrees on it. Uppermost on the globe is Mongolia. The globe still recognises the USSR and East Pakistan. There is a tear at the equator (which is also the seam of the globe) in the Indian Ocean. At the top axis of the globe is a small disc which shows the hours of the day and is also divided into day (white, with a drawing of a sun, 6am to 6pm) and night (black, with drawings of stars and the moon, 6pm to 6am).

In The Kitchen:

In the back corner of The Kitchen, next to windows which open onto The Living Room, is a charcoal drawing of a man and woman ("To Enjoy" by Matt Ellwood). The woman is smiling and has her left arm around the man's shoulders and her right hand on his knee. She is wearing a singlet and the bottom half of a bikini. The man is leaning back with his arms loosely folded, hands relaxed. He is topless and wearing jeans. Her speech balloon covers his face and reads: "WHERE OTHERS RUSH THROUGH LIFE, HE KNOWS WHEN TO REFLECT." The man's cigarette protrudes beneath the speech balloon. From the man's crotch comes another speech balloon which reads: "TO ENJOY." The drawing is masked to be a circlular shape.

On the bench below are: two wine glasses, one drinking glass, three plastic cups (two stacked), one take-out coffee cup branded by Havana, two small plates, one large serving plate with remnants of food on it, a kitchen knife, two butter knifes, crumbs, a lavender-scented soap dispenser, a plug, cleaning-up liquid, a green teatowel, two bottle caps from swappa-crate bottles, one swappa-crate bottle.

Directly above the drawing is a lamp on an extending trellis, aimed at, but not illuminating, the opposite wall.

Works not featured in this review:

  • "untitled" by Hany Armonious (drawing on wrapping paper)
  • "Rabbit" by Hany Armonious (inflatable alien, tea-towel holder)
  • "#2" and "#5" by Eve Armstrong (collage with tape, photographs)
  • "Soft Fall" by Simon Denny (sculpture with boards and paintings)
  • "Scale Up" by Simon Denny (sculpture with found materials and paintings)
  • "Your Stand Up" by Simon Denny (sculpture with found materials)
  • "various" by Eileen Leung (four sculptures in wood and perspex)
  • "The Bosom of Abraham" by Michael Parekowhai (lightbox)
  • "untitled" by Mary Teague (painting on hessian with nylon rope)