Billy Apple®, SUCK

Our 2015 Autumn programme POETRY IN MOTION (March-April-May) is inspired by an expressive way of idealising ‘things’ or visualising a juxtaposition of poetic language and filmic memory. We (re)invite you to Artspace on K-Road during a process of architectural changes, discussions and reorganisation of institutional space. The programme will present its new definition of space through a contextual experiment - based on methodological aspects of exhibition making at two levels of operation. POETRY IN MOTION will unfold in 2 parts: A solo presentation by Billy Apple®, SUCK March 6 – 20 (below) and A sceptical approach to exhibition making, IMAGINARY AUDIENCE SCALE March 27 – May 23, 2015. 


Billy Apple, Suck

 Billy Apple®'s technical drawing for the sculpture Suck, 1961.

A Solo Presentation by Billy Apple®

March 6 to 20 


The solo presentation by Billy Apple® entitled “Suck” departs from a conversation still in progress with the artist around earlier works of his, which were produced during the 60s and are now shown for the first time after many years. As an archaeological approach, the exhibition methodology proposes to revisit the zeitgeist of the period that the works conceptually arose from.  


The pieces are powerfully evocative of a relationship with time which is retrospectively evolving. This retrospectively evolving relationship with the perception of time is also engaged with an art historical need to re-consider these works, bringing a contextual shift in the abstraction of the exhibition venue. 


Experimentally speaking, the work - black and white, sexually explicit - touches on many historical references, from Man Ray to Mapplethorpe, and as a cinematic approach, a sort of conceptual play with the abstraction of pornographic eye, it forms a direct link with the address of Artspace. K-Road comes in to focus as a perpetually youthful, never-aging adolescent of Auckland: a still-not-clean enough environment where the dark, drag, druggy, uncanny and queer actors of Auckland’s night life, sex industry and entertainment cultures have a home. 


Typographically sculptural or sculpturally typographic, the installation is based on four letters, S-U-C-K, which are a direct reference to psychoanalytical thinking; a reminder of the oral stage of development where one needs to suck in order to live, grow, and survive. Apple’s solo presentation is interested in investing in a critical perspective of looking at images as references of intertextuality and reading texts as images of collective unconscious. 


The conversation in SUCK moves between two polarised zones of artistic imagination, or conceptual territories of linguistic experience; a) words, that trigger thoughts, feelings and associations and b) images, that stimulate physical conditions. The exhibition becomes a space for the combination of the “Swinging Sixties”, the cultural period of the production of the work, and the epoch we find ourselves in today, a time and place perhaps best described as the ‘browsing two thousands’. This action encompasses the blurred movements and negotiations we experience today between social and cultural territories.


The pieces in SUCK have close ties to earlier experiments of the artist, whose practice has moved in a more specific direction. Considering Apple’s long term relationship with Artspace, the production of this show has been parallel to the research and development of imagining better ways of operating, sharing, and utilising the institutional space, which will be applied and launched by this solo presentation. The exhibition reflexively engages with the gallery architecture, specifically the wall measurements, creating an open discussion around exhibition making and institutional space. To celebrate his current engagement with Artspace this solo presentation will include a public talk with the artist and another special event. 


Artspace is proud to be part of the Billy Apple® Exhibitions Map in Auckland city, especially during his major exhibition at the Auckland Art Gallery.  


Thanks to Bruce Barber, Wystan Curnow, Shigeyuki Kihara, Richard Maloy, Mary Morrison and Tim Wagg. 

Artist Alliance, Galerie Reinhard Hauff, The Len Lye Foundation, Marian Goodman Gallery and Starkwhite.

Public Programme

4 March, 5pm 
Reading Club #ReadwithArtspace
(Currently on our desk: “Totem and Taboo” by Sigmund Freud)
The reading club #ReadwithArtspace initiates exercises, ideas and thoughts on reading and writing today. Meetings are on the first Wednesday of each month, all welcome.  


6 March, 5pm 
A conversation with Billy Apple®


14 March, 8pm – midnight 
White Night Event: Billy Apple® Party in the Billy Apple® City


Curatorial Tours: 
By appointment, email 



Please note: this exhibition contains content which is not suitable for a younger audience.