Photographs For a Local Tradition
Laurence Aberhart, Minerva Betts, Peter Black, Ken Browning, Murray Cammick, Darren Glass, Gavin Hipkins, Anton Parsons, Ian Richardson, Ava Seymour, Ann Shelton, Jim Speers, Ronnie Van Hout, Peter Peryer
Curated by Gavin Hipkins
8 July - 1 August 1998
A joint project with Sarjeant Gallery, Wanganui
Folklore explores how New Zealand photographers have documented the people and possessions around them from the 1970s until today. Curated by Wellington artist Gavin Hipkins, it asks how photographs have been used to define a national identity or an elusive sense of 'New Zealandness'. Folklore sets out to explore the visual stories we tell about ourselves, for ourselves as New Zealanders.
Perceived as a shadow history, the photographs included in this exhibition are hardly national icons—not coffee-table-book fodder. Instead they celebrate New Zealand taken at street level, depicting people and places in a transitory state. Many of the images are literally photographed from a passing car; these photo-shoot drive-bys rendering a New Zealand landscape in the blur of memory. Photographs of our most prized possessions—quarter-acre castles and imported cars—also feature; as do the owners of these assets, the New Zealanders themselves. Many of these photographs could be described as snapshots, yet they often operate at a more self-conscious level.
In the exhibition, photographers first published by the New Zealand journal PhotoForum in the 1970s are represented alongside work from the 1990s. Folklore marks a renaissance, a return to "straight" photography, an arguably less contrived approach to the subject, side-steping the directorial photographic strategies employed by many New Zealand photographers in the 1980s.