press release

Ruth Buchanan
The scene in which I find myself / Or, where does my body belong
December 7, 2019–March 22, 2020

Launching the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery 50 year anniversary is a project developed by Aotearoa New Zealand artist Ruth Buchanan. Spanning the entire contemporary art museum, the exhibition excavates the Govett-Brewster Collection and will include close to 300 works from artists including Jim Allen, Flora Scales, Ralph Hotere, Tom Kreisler, Colin McCahon, Gretchen Albrecht, Christine Hellyar, Fiona Clark, Stanley Palmer, Darcy Lange, Len Lye, Maree Horner, Mary Louise Browne, Peter Robinson, Michael Stevenson, Giovanni Intra, Ngahina Hohaia, Yuk King Tan, Saskia Leek, Francis Upritchard, and Lisa Reihana.

Presenting the largest number of Collection works ever shown at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, the project seeks to break (open) the mechanisms of collecting and challenges the role and success of the museum. If a collection is meant to reflect the society that creates it, there are problems with the methodologies if amongst this highly regarded collection, so few perspectives are captured. Through insisting on giving space to the paradoxes of collection building and collection showing Buchanan produces a conflict in motion. The lenses applied to this particular collection provides a crucial course alteration for the future. Here, the collection becomes the scene, and the body in attendance is dynamically addressed, and each of us—the institution, the visitor, and the artist herself are implicated in what these future procedures may be.

Uneven Bodies symposium
March 6-8, 2020
In close relation to the exhibition the symposium will consider what we hold, why we hold it, and what might come and go from our collection in the future. Acting on the imbalances exposed by Buchanan’s show, and searching for considered and forward-thinking approaches to collections locally and around the world, the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery & Len Lye Centre’s Co-Directors and Chief Curators, Aileen Burns and Johan Lundh have co-organised a symposium with Buchanan, Uneven Bodies. Independent curator Gabi Ngcobo and Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith will give keynotes and further participants include Megan Tamati-Quennell, Christina Barton, Jenny Harper, and Luke Willis Thompson. Ruth Buchanan is a New Zealand artist of Te Atiawa, Taranaki, and Pākehā descent living in Berlin. She develops site and material specific strategies that include sculpture, text, spatial structures, performance, audio, film, textiles, and graphics. The construction of the public moment is crucial and is viewed as strategically staging the parameters of encounter and the manifold power-structures that subsequently emerge. Rooted in legacies of feminism, institutional critique, and experimental writing her practice puts sets of standards into motion by re-formatting existing traditions of presentation and the functionality of systems of explanation.