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Seven Exciting and Powerful Auckland Art Exhibitions to Step Into This Spring

From tumultuous and unsettling photography to immersive moving image projects, here's where you can get your art fix around the city.
By Concrete Playground
September 23, 2020

Seven Exciting and Powerful Auckland Art Exhibitions to Step Into This Spring

From tumultuous and unsettling photography to immersive moving image projects, here's where you can get your art fix around the city.
By Concrete Playground
September 23, 2020


From tumultuous and unsettling photography to immersive moving image projects, here's where you can get your art fix around the city.

With the sun shining and everything looking just a little bit more beautiful, spring is the perfect time to head out for a day of gallery hopping around Auckland's many galleries. There are plenty of exhibitions currently showing — or set to open in the next couple of months — covering everything from tumultuous and unsettling photography to immersive moving image projects. Here are seven of the best.

  • 7

    This major Auckland Art Gallery exhibition looks at built environments and our hyper-connected 21st century lives through the eyes of the skilful photographers. Civilisation, Photography, Now features the work of 100 photographers across eight key aspects of contemporary civilisation. The exhibition illustrates our increasingly global, connected society and encourages viewers to consider where we live, how we consume, and how we travel, learn, explore and control. Art and documentary photography, photojournalism and commercial image-making by artists including Richard Misrach, Candida Höfer, Pieter Hugo, Taryn Simon and An-My Lê focus attention on our habitation of the planet.

    Image: Zhang Xiao.

  • 6

    Images of flatmates chopping each other’s hair during lockdown in Auckland, a whale cruising near Kaikōura, dust from the Australian bush fires settling on the Southern Alps, a memorial for victims of the Christchurch mosque shootings, and a flock of rako Buller’s shearwaters flying below the Milky Way are among those taken by photographers competing for the New Zealand Geographic Photographer of the Year 2020. Forty entries are now on display at the New Zealand Maritime Museum until March 2021 in the A Year in Aotearoa exhibition. The competition is the country’s largest and most popular photography exhibition. The entries document tumultuous, unsettling and consoling life as we know it, with the winning images chosen from five categories: aerial, wildlife, landscape, photo-story and society.

    Top image: Petra Leary (cropped).

  • 5

    The Royal Photographic Society’s ‘Science Photographer of the Year’ exhibition arrives at the Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT) direct from its opening season at London’s Science Museum. The images on display cover every aspect of scientific endeavour imaginable. Discover the beauty of raspberry mould, see eye to eye with a confused flour beetle, and get up close to the skull of 500-year-old King Richard III. The Museum has selected 47 photographs to share with visitors and communicate the power of science.

    Image: Ribblehead Viaduct Star Trails, David Forknall.

  • 4

    Tanu Gago’s Savage in the Garden showcases a collection of visual poems dedicated to the contemporary notions of Pacific masculinity. The immersive moving image projects from the Samoan-born Auckland artist address expressions of cultural, gender and sexual identity. Gago is the co-founder of Pacific LGBT arts collective FAFSWAG. In Savage in the Garden the artist uses the screen to challenge the mainstream exploitation of Pacific bodies and lack of representation within the media beyond this superficial physicality. Both works will be presented as free large-scale screenings to the public at Viaduct Harbour.

    Image: FAFSWAG, Tanu Gago.

  • 3

    Featuring artists by way of South Korea, Guyana, Japan, USA and New Zealand is this exhibition celebrating 60 years of television in Aotearoa. As the site of the country’s first official public television broadcast, Gus Fisher Gallery will reveal the heritage of the building through archival footage and ephemera paired with contemporary artistic responses. A starting point for the exhibition is the work of Nam June Paik, who is often referred to as the father of video art. Global Groove (1973) is a seminal work in the history of video art. It cuts sequences of music, commercials appropriated from Japanese television and performances by avant-garde artists in a kaleidoscopic and ever-changing environment.

    Image: Gus Fisher Gallery.

  • 2

    Visitors stepping through the doorway at Elizabeth’s this October will enter Dreamland, an immersive multi-sensory experience created by visual artist Veronika Sola. The installation, which is running as part of Artweek Auckland, was inspired by “the beauty of flowers, the ebb and flow of nature, and the changes we face while journeying through life.” Dreamland invites visitors to explore the concept of change and dreams in a space of light, moving image, scent and sound. A series of workshops are also being held alongside the installation to help visitors explore their senses. Join a blossom and wild flower workshop, create your own scent at a fragrance design workshop, or sit back and enjoy a gin and tonic tasting masterclass.

    Image: Veronika Sola and Alexander Okhlopkov.

  • 1

    In Oliver Cain’s new exhibition Relatively Fruity he ​explores themes of gender and queer identity through linguisitic paintings, comically morphed appropriated objects and body parts, in a variety of materials. The exhibition at Mount Eden’s Föenander Galleries features new ceramics of everyday objects, such as highly glossed white milk cartons and bowls engorged by bananas, and provoking works like a​ series of stretched nipples made from bubble gum. Oliver’s work is known for pushing the boundaries between conceptualism and post-pop art. Each of the works gently nudge the viewer into an uncomfortable space but not over the edge — instead encouraging them to experience something different and deeper.


Top image: Mike Kelley Flughafen Zürich 28 and 16 (Visual Separation), from the series Airportraits, 2015 © Mike Kelley

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