Ruth Buchanan’s “The scene in which I find myself / Or, where does my body belong”
              Tara McDowell
              The Taranaki region on the west coast of Te Ika-a-Māui (the Maori name for the North Island of Aotearoa, or New Zealand) meets the Tasman Sea on three sides and rises at its center to the peaks of Mount Taranaki, a volcano that has been active for around 130,000 years. For the last 50 years, the region’s largest city, New Plymouth, has been home to the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, a contemporary art museum that has exhibited and collected chiefly New Zealand art. To mark this anniversary, Govett-Brewster’s co-directors, Aileen Burns and Johan Lundh, who joined the museum last year, invited artist Ruth Buchanan to develop an exhibition of work from the collection. Buchanan, who is based in Berlin but was born in New Plymouth and is of Te Atiawa, Taranaki, and Pākehā (or European) descent, worked closely with the museum staff to install 292 pieces across the museum. Buchanan is acutely sensitive to language and the body, and these concerns shape her foray into the institution. Her methodology is feminist, seeking horizontal relations, and influenced by Donna Haraway’s “split and contradictory self” and Audre Lorde’s exhortation to “bear the intimacy of scrutiny.” Each of the museum’s five galleries is dedicated to …

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