Freedom Farmers at Auckland Art Gallery

Freedom Farmers at Auckland Art Gallery

Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki

et al., many to many (installation detail), 2013. Roller chairs, signage, metal tubing, sandbags, helium balloons, Swiss balls, particle board. Courtesy of the artists and Michael Lett. Photo: Jennifer French.

November 16, 2013

Freedom Farmers: New Zealand Artists Growing Ideas
October 26, 2013―February 23, 2014

Auckland Art Gallery
Cnr Kitchener and Wellesley Streets
Auckland 1141
New Zealand

Curated by Natasha Conland

Freedom Farmers is a focus on 20 New Zealand artists exploring idealism, freedom and liberty as propositions for art and society.

While addressing the conditions of the global contemporary, the utopian framework of the exhibition has particular relevance to the historic formation of New Zealand and art’s place in it. The conception of New Zealand during the colonial period and into the present day connects with a lineage of ideas associated with idealised islands in Western thought. The establishment of contemporary New Zealand society aligns strongly with a former colonial impulse associated with emancipation or freedom of many kinds—from scarcity or from the unjust exercise of power.

Following New Zealand’s strongest phase of post-colonial debate and establishment of contemporary identity in the 1980s and ’90s, the relationship to this legacy of thought has shifted from a discourse of place to one of abstract change—an interest in what might be made or formed afresh.

For those artists raised in the 1970s, freedom was posed as an aspiration of the utopian movement—the opportunity to leave one life for a better one—and connects, somewhat ironically, with New Zealand’s swift adaptation of ‘free market’ economic policy in the late 1980s. Subsequently, and in conjunction with the spread of post-modern theories, these artists came to critique social conditions and the role of the individual in society. While a critique of the utopian origins of the colonial era and the social ideals of the 1970s has bred what some might perceive as cynical doubt, utopian thinking nonetheless exists especially within the ordinary terrain of our lives and creative practice. This group of artists have matured to become key figures; they are no longer the youth of our generation, but a group who bridge the space between those who helped break open the social fabric of the 1970s and those who never knew it.

Taking its title from agrarian imaginings of New Zealand, this exhibition asks more fundamentally how freedom can be made and questions its relationship to art, the land and to the production of the economy and society.

Artists: Edith Amituanai, Dan Arps, Wayne Barrar, Martin Basher, Mladen Bizumic, Dorota Broda, Steve Carr, Xin Cheng, Stella Corkery, Iain Frengley, Tessa Laird, Allan McDonald, Richard Maloy, Louise Menzies, Shannon Novak, Ava Seymour, Shannon Te Ao, Isobel Thom, Francis Upritchard, et al.

For more information about the exhibition and the programme, please visit

For press images, and further information, please contact contact Jade Lucas, Communications Coordinator at Auckland Art Gallery: 
jade.lucas [​at​] / T +64 9 3077706

Freedom Farmers at Auckland Art Gallery
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Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki
November 16, 2013

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