at: City Gallery Wellington



2 x 2 Contemporary Projects: Kelcy Taratoa - Back to Mine: Urban Realities

Edith Amituanai – Mrs Amituanai

Kelcy Taratoa – Back to Mine: Urban Realities

18 June – 30 July 2006
Te Ngākau Civic Square, 101 Wakefield Street, Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Aotearoa Wellington 6011

2 x 2 Contemporary Projects, a series of two exhibitions, each showcasing two artists. The City Gallery Wellington artists’ projects programme aimed to show art and artists at the forefront of contemporary practice, providing a focused solo exhibition opportunity for artists whose work is fresh, innovative, and rich in ideas. Photographer Edith Amituanai and painter Kelcy Taratoa in the first programme; and multi-media artist Lonnie Hutchinson and video artist Sriwhana Spong in the second programme. Whilst these are four distinct exhibitions, they share some common concerns and show that the issue of identity formation, at both a personal and broader cultural level, has on-going currency for artists working in a wide range of media.


Photography: Courtesy of City Gallery Wellington

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2 x 2 Contemporary Projects: Kelcy Taratoa - Back to Mine: Urban Realities


Emma Bugden
Curator: 2×2 Contemporary  Projects 2006

ARTISTS Edith Amituanai, Lonnie Hutchinson, Sriwhana Spong, Kelcy Taratoa
2×2 Contemporary Projects presents young artists, two at a time: Edith Amituanai and Kelcy Taratoa (18 June–30 July 2006), Lonnie Hutchinson and Sriwhana Spong (5 August–24 September 2006).

Amituanai and Taratoa both explore portraiture and identity. Amituanai’s Mrs Amituanai is a series of documentary photos of friends and family, showing communal spaces in their homes that evince the relationship of migrant Samoan communities to suburban Auckland. The interiors often feature family photos, including dignified portraits marking communions and weddings. The Sagapolu Lounge (2006) and The Amituanai Lounge (2006) show the lounge in the artist’s family home and the lounge in her husband’s, where she moved following their marriage. She calls the series Mrs Amituanai because, ‘when I got married in August this year, I became the first Mrs Amitunuanai in my husband’s household since his mother passed away fourteen years ago’.

Kelcy Taratoa’s stylised self portraits are lurid. His bright urban scenes are packed with pop imagery—superheroes, toys, motorway signs, and consumer brands. Episode 0014 (2006) finds the artist beside a parking meter with a dangling Spiderman offering ‘Let me take care of it’. Taratoa has Silver Surfer—a comic character he identifies with—on his t-shirt. Originally black, Silver Surfer’s memory was wiped and his body besieged by the technology of the evil alien Galactus. In Taratoa’s eyes, this is a metaphor for imperialism. In Spasifik magazine, he says: ‘The characters depicted confront internal identity struggles—internal identity struggles confront indigenous people.’ A flatscreen presents video footage of urban landscapes cut to music. On the white gallery floor, shiny white road markings are installed.

In the second instalment, Sriwhana Spong’s work Twin Oak Drive is named after a road that passes through Auckland’s Cornwall Park; it also nods to David Lynch’s Twin Peaks (1990) and to horror-films generally. Spong feels disconnected from her Balinese heritage, which she describes as ‘a glimmer of something fed to me through shadows and whispers’. Her work refers to Balinese rituals of offering goods to spirits. Visitors enter through a curtain of strung cigarettes. In a video on a small screen, a handheld camera drifts haphazardly around a dark landscape finding common food goods—like bananas, Coke bottles, and popcorn—in circular arrangements. In a projection on the opposing wall, totem-like structures have been fashioned out of other household objects. Spong’s unnerving work endows commonplace items with spooky significance.

Every work in Lonnie Hutchinson’s Parallel Seductions is black. In old glass cabinets, she presents patterned, shield-like acrylic cutouts. They are numbered, suggesting museum registration numbers. Images of naked women, Ladies (2006)—taken from her small, expressive ink-drawing series Midnight en Mass (2003–4)—are blown up and rendered directly on the walls. They comment on the cultural and sexual politics that weigh down and disempower indigenous women. A video, Wet Black (2006), records Hutchinson making ink drawings.

Text: Courtesy of City Gallery Wellington