Gavin Hipkins: Leisure Valley

Gavin Hipkins: Leisure Valley

ST PAUL St Gallery at AUT University

Gavin Hipkins, Leisure Valley (detail), 2014. Pigment print on newsprint, 120 x 80 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Starkwhite, Auckland.
March 17, 2014
Gavin Hipkins: Leisure Valley

4 April–17 May 2014

“The Open Hand: A Call for Civic Debate”
Symposium, 16–17 May

ST Paul St Gallery
AUT University
School of Art and Design
Level 1 WM Building
40 St Paul Street
Aotearoa/New Zealand

Leisure Valley is an exhibition of new work developed specially for ST PAUL St by Gavin Hipkins. The exhibition is a continuation of Hipkins’ engagement with architecture through his photographic practice. For Leisure Valley Hipkins returned to the city of Chandigarh in Northern India. Hipkins first visited Chandigarh in 1997, and the subsequent work The Trench (1998), which focused on Le Corbusier’s Open Hand Monument, was recently exhibited at the Museum of Applied Arts (MAK), Vienna. His new 46-part photo-installation takes its title from Chandigarh’s Leisure Valley, a green belt conceived by Le Corbusier as the ‘lungs’ of the city. As a modernist project Chandigarh looked to the future constructing an urban environment through an ethos that desired a healthy self-determined democracy.

For Leisure Valley, Hipkins’ composite images of Chandigarh play with these utopian desires of modernist planning and mimic the romantic appreciation of the ruin through capturing aspects of present day Chandigarh that are in various states of decay. This compression or flattening of time periods is further complicated in the series by the absence of inhabitants (as is typical in architectural photography), stylistic photographic techniques employed by Hipkins, and the temporal nature of the newsprint surface of the images.

Leisure Valley also includes a new experimental short film titled The Port (2014). The Port combines images taken from the 18th-century architectural astronomy instruments called Jantar Mantars in New Delhi and Jaipur. These structures sit alongside abstracted and naturalistic landscape motifs, and suburban architecture from Auckland’s current master-planned community Stonefields—built on the site of a former quarry in Auckland. These images are combined with an audio montage read from passages of H.G. Wells’ 1895 science fiction novella The Time Machine. In the gallery space the sound and image play unsynchronized, their different duration causing an ever-changing relationship.

As an example of “a new urban village” (as described on the Stonefields website), Stonefields presents a 21st century antipodean manifestation of a planned community. Hipkins representation of the two sites—Chandigarh and Stonefields—in the exhibition Leisure Valley offers a nexus of seductive photographic and filmic mediums and the desires and dismays of utopian and dystopian retrograde futures.

In conjunction with Leisure Valley ST PAUL St is publishing a catalogue featuring new essays by Chandigarh scholar Dr. Vikramāditya Prakāsh, and Vienna-based independent researcher Stephen Zepke. The gallery will also convene the symposium “The Open Hand: A Call for Civic Debate,” 16–17 May.

Gavin Hipkins is one of New Zealand’s leading contemporary artists. In 2014 his work will be on display at The Museum of Arts and Design (MAD), New York (in collaboration with Karl Fritsch), and at The City Art Centre, Edinburgh, in conjunction with the Edinburgh Arts Festival. His work is included in major public collections including The Queensland Art Gallery, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, San Diego Museum of Photographic Arts, and George Eastman Museum of Photography and Film, Rochester, New York. He lives and works in Auckland, New Zealand, where he is Associate Head of School at Elam School of Fine Arts, The University of Auckland.

The artist and ST PAUL St Gallery gratefully acknowledge the support of the National Institute of Creative Arts and Industry (NICAI) Research Development Fund, The University of Auckland for supporting Leisure Valley, and the School of Art + Design AUT University for supporting the symposium.

ST PAUL St Gallery
ST PAUL St is a suite of purpose built galleries and project spaces run by the School of Art and Design, AUT University, Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand. Since establishment in 2004 ST PAUL St has developed a strong programme, which has seen the gallery recognized as a leading university gallery and a place for generating critical discussion around contemporary art and design in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

For more information, contact Charlotte Huddleston: [email protected].


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ST PAUL St Gallery at AUT University
March 17, 2014

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