Thursday, February 23, 2012

What’s in that crate?

As this photograph was taken through the closed doors of the City Gallery last weekend while they were setting up their next exhibition The Obstinate Object which opens tonight, we are picking that it was elements of Don Driver’s installation Ritual. The work consists of nine provocatively semi-clad dolls each standing on a 44 gallon oil drum that are conveyed in a wooden tumbrel resting on a bed of hay. Ritual hasn’t been seen for a while and with its flashing lights and soulful soundtrack it’s intended to be a centrepiece of the City Gallery curated exhibition. 

The last time we saw Ritual was in 1999 when Driver’s survey exhibition With Spirit toured. Hilariously, when it was first shown at the National Art Gallery in 1982 a handout was issued reassuring visitors that the work was not connected with any form of black magic.

Ritual is now owned by Te Papa, thanks to the Govett-Brewster shamefully reneging on a commitment to purchase negotiated by Director Dick Bett and later resubmitted by the new director Cheryll Sotheran. Fortunately the National Gallery stepped in and purchased Driver's controversial installation in 1989. Ironically Sotheran got to live with Ritual on the rebound when she became CEO of Te Papa. So maybe Black Magic was involved after all.