Appropriation is a key aspect of our collection and also in our
artistic working habits. In art, appropriation is taking bits of
present culture and parts of existing art and creating a new artwork
out of them. When the old and new are joined successfully, the
work takes on a new angle or meaning from the original source.
Appropriation is common practice in contemporary art and is often
ironic or pointed, providing a new take on existing ideas.
Peryer’s Doodlebug photograph and my V1 photograph
and model all reference the German flying bomb from World War II.
I visited the Auckland Museum while I was paying off Peter’s
photograph and saw the actual Doodlebug that he had photographed.
Although Peter’s photograph focuses on the detail of the
propulsion system and the swastika, I instantly recognised it as
the object in the photograph. After seeing the Doodlebug in its
entirety, I decided to make a cardboard-model version and create
my own photograph of my model.
two photographs use appropriation, but instead of appropriating
from a different source, she has used her own imagery. The photograph
of Ruby as Little Red Riding Hood appears as a photograph
in a book viewed by Jo’s mother. These two works were in
an exhibition called Getting Personal at Photospace Gallery,
where I first met Jo.
paintings and sculptures are appropriated in the works by Sandra
Schmidt, Brian Campbell and Helm Ruifrok. Helm’s
copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s Virgin and Saint Anne is
one of my personal favourites in our collection. I’ve seen
the Da Vinci original in the Louvre, and Helm’s version is
more mystifying – an ethereal gaze on the faces replaces
the focus on the Christ-child in the original. Sandra’s all-over,
obsessive ballpoint pen drawing slowly divulges its composition
the longer you look at it. John Constable’s well-known Hay
Wain painting is transformed into repetitive shards of thousands
of blue lines. Brian’s work is a quirky take on a Hellenistic
marble sculpture of a hermaphrodite fending off a satyr.
Tao Wells’ and Gina Ropiha’s artworks appropriate
from older sources but are closer to home. A cutting statement
on the vagaries of colonisation, Gina’s work refers to the
watercolour by Tupaia, a passenger and artist on Cook’s voyage
to the Pacific. Tupaia’s drawing depicts Joseph Banks bartering
with a cloaked Maori. Tao’s drawing is a gestural, almost
snapshot representation of Colin McCahon’s ubiquitous Necessary
Protection series. The fact that it is a five-second dash
of line from memory comments on how artists such as McCahon have
authored symbols that are instantly recognisable. The labels by
each of the works show the sources the artists have appropriated.