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For the Europeans, New Zealand is known for the spectacular landscapes as seen in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, for the millions of the sheep, for the Maori and when we hear news from this country it is always about volcanic and seismic activity. The news though are that there is also an Arts activity down there with the fifth edition of the Auckland Art Fair came to an end a few days ago.

The biennial aims to put under one roof the region’s best contemporary artists and present their latest artworks curated by galleries from Sydney, Melbourne, Gisborne, Dunedin, Wellington, Nelson, Arrowtown and Auckland. For four days (August 7th to 11th) the public had the opportunity to visit one of the 40 exhibitions, projects and installations in a range of media including photography, painting, sculpture and moving image. The programme also included panel discussions, thought-provoking talks, interviews with artists, dealers, collectors and guided art tours led by artists and curators from Auckland’s visual arts community.

Jennifer Buckley, the Auckland Art Fair Director in her statement says “It is very cool to have the space and scope to show solo projects by some of New Zealand’s most interesting and exciting artists”. It’s worth mentioning that among the participating artists we found Bill Culbert who is currently NZ’s representative at the 55th Venice Biennale and Sandra Phillips, curator of photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, a special guest of the Fair this year. Those who have had the opportunity to attend her keynote lecture left with the best of impressions as Phillips discussed the way photography is associated with voyeurism and surveillance and provided an insight into some of the images in this exhibition.

It would be wrong if we did not make a reference to the projects that took place during the biennial. On the city end of the wharf, the Digibox featured multi-media work on screens inside a 40ft container and, near the fair’s entrance, Alex Monteith’s dual channel video work based on the Rena disaster was projected on to the outside of two back-lit shipping containers.

Inside the Fair, visitors could see new and reinterpreted works by some of the region’s leading artists including: Bill Culbert and Scott Eady, fresh from projects in Venice; Niki Hastings-McFall, Rohan Wealleans, Seung Yul Oh, Israel Birch and Dan Arps.

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Daylight Flotsam Venice, 2013, Plastic vessels, fluorescent tubes and fittings Dimensions variable, Installation photography: Jennifer French

Bill Culbert

Bill Culbert makes sculpture, photography and installations that collectively explore the transformative potential of light. His work evinces an ongoing fascination with everyday objects including plastic bottles, wine glasses, domestic furniture and, most prominently, light bulbs and fluorescent tubes. Light is channeled to open space for imaginative play, to mark the quotidian, and to critically, but affectionately, interrogate the act of looking. Project courtesy of the artist and Hopkinson Mossman

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192 Queen Street, 2013, Mixed media, Dimensions variable

Scott Eady

192 Queen Street explores a successful family business of four generations that has endured vacillating and volatile economic times, shedding light on the political and economic structures of our culture both past and present. The project was conceived when the artist, while sanding a set of three reproduction plaster composer busts (Beethoven, Handel and Mozart) was struck by 30 year old memory of his father rebuilding, with the patience of an archaeologist, the original broken Handel, piece-by-piece. Project courtesy of the artist and RH Gallery, Nelson

Alex Monteith

In October of 2011 the shipping container vessel Rena ran aground on Astroble reef, off the Tauranga coast, Aotearoa in fair weather. Oil spills, shipping containers and debris have washed ashore along the Bay of Plenty coast. This project installs one of a series video installations comprised of long-take documentations of the community and NZ defence force responses amidst the clean-up made by Alex Monteith in 2011 and 2012. Alex Monteith has been involved with 13 projects (spanning 2008-2013) involving contemporary culture or environmental aspects engaged with foreshore territories around Aotearoa. Project courtesy of the artist and Gow Langsford Gallery, Auckland

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Seung Yul Oh’s, Huggong 2012, Vinyl, Dimensions variable

Seung Yul Oh’s

Seung Yul Oh’s whimsical oversize red and yellow balloons were re-imagined within The Cloud to highlight their scale, fragility and overriding sense of playfulness. Project courtesy of the artist and Starkwhite, Auckland

Niki Hastings-McFall

In Polynisation Series Reconfigured Niki Hastings-McFall blankets everyday objects from a 70’s Pakeha domestic setting with the ubiquitous lei – a widely recognised symbol of Polynesia and mass-produced souvenir – to explore the ways in which an ‘Other Pacific’ is contrived and manufactured. Project courtesy of the artist and Tautai Contemporary Pacific Arts Trust.

Dan Arps

Dan Arps’ work explores and responds to the contemporary urban environment. His installations, sculptures, paintings and videos fuse architecture, public space, nomadic structures, politics, philosophy and history. He has exhibited extensively in New Zealand and Australia, and in 2010 was the recipient of the Walters Prize. For the Auckland Art Fair 2013 he designed a limited edition calico tote bag. Project courtesy of the artist and Michael Lett, Auckland.

Rohan Wealleans

A statue of a sorcerer from a local television production was the starting point for The Wizard of Forgotten Flesh, and Rohan Wealleans resultant ‘Wizard’ series, based on a narrative rooted in fantasy and science fiction. Project courtesy of the artist and Hamish McKay, Wellington

Israel Birch

Israel Birch paints with light. This body of works entitled ‘Ripple Effect’ plays on the interaction between light, pattern, and the refraction of light, to create the illusion of depth. Project courtesy of the artist and Martin Browne Contemporary, Sydney

Andrew Beck 'Transfer I' Courtesy of McNamara Gallery Photography

Andrew Beck ‘Transfer I’ 2010, Gelatin silver print, 105 x 85 mm, Courtesy of McNamara Gallery Photography. Copyright remains with the artist.

Martin Basher 'T.B.D'  Courtesy of Starkwhite

Martin Basher ‘T.B.D’ 2013, Oil on canvas, 1500 x 1800mm, Courtesy of Starkwhite. Copyright remains with the artist.

Laurence Aberhart 'Interior #3, hall, Tataraimaka, Taranaki, 22 May 2010' Courtesy of McNamara Gallery Photography

Laurence Aberhart ‘Interior #3, hall, Tataraimaka, Taranaki, 22 May 2010’ 2010, Toned gelatin silver contact print, 194 x 245 mm, Courtesy of McNamara Gallery Photography. Copyright remains with the artist.

Scott Eady 'Dear Jonathan, you were wrong' Courtesy of RH Gallery

Scott Eady ‘Dear Jonathan, you were wrong’ 2010, Bronze, enamel paint, biscuit tin, cellotape, 1000mm x 650mm x 250mm, Courtesy of RH Gallery. Copyright remains with the artist.

Juan Ford 'Disobey Yourself' Courtesy of dianne tanzer gallery + projects

Juan Ford ‘Disobey Yourself’ 2013, oil on linen, 910x710mm, Courtesy of dianne tanzer gallery + projects. Copyright remains with the artist.

Neil Frazer 'Sails' Courtesy of Martin Browne Contemporary

Neil Frazer ‘Sails’ 2012, Acrylic on canvas, 1370 x 1370mm, Courtesy of Martin Browne Contemporary. Copyright remains with the artist.

Trenton Garratt 'Clearing of flowers near the treeline'  Courtesy of Starkwhite

Trenton Garratt ‘Clearing of flowers near the treeline’ 2013, Oil on canvas, 1000 x 1200mm, Courtesy of Starkwhite. Copyright remains with the artist.

Reuben Paterson 'Button Down' Courtesy of Milford Galleries Dunedin

Reuben Paterson ‘Button Down’ 2012, glitter & synthetic polymer on canvas, 1504mm diameter, Courtesy of Milford Galleries Dunedin. Copyright remains with the artist.

Richard Reddaway 'The Middle Ages, father and son' Courtesy of Jonathan Smart Gallery

Richard Reddaway ‘The Middle Ages, father and son’ 2013, Wood, fiberglass & audio components, Dimensions variable, Courtesy of Jonathan Smart Gallery. Copyright remains with the artist.

Winston Roeth 'In A Silent Way'  Courtesy of Fox Jensen

Winston Roeth ‘In A Silent Way’ 2012, Tempera on 12 Di-Bond aluminum panels, each panel 48 x 36 inches, Courtesy of Fox Jensen. Copyright remains with the artist.

Richard Stratton 'Chinatown Dunstan' Courtesy of Anna Miles Gallery

Richard Stratton ‘Chinatown Dunstan’ 2012, Ceramic, 280 x 210 x 200mm, Courtesy of Anna Miles Gallery. Copyright remains with the artist.

Rick Swain 'Infinity' (2013) Courtesy of ARTIS Gallery

Rick Swain ‘Infinity’ (2013) Courtesy of ARTIS Gallery. Copyright remains with the artist.

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