Local Knowledge & Bedazzled at the Dowse

Local Knowledge: Dan Arps, Simon Faithfull, Veranoa Hetet, Mike Heynes, Julian Priest, Andrew Ross, Joe Sheehan, Ans Westra, Zheng Guogu and Fiona Jack
17th December 2011 – 23rd April 2012

Bedazzled: Royal NZ Ballet costumes designed by Kristian Fredrikson
26th November 2011 – 4th March 2012

Lots on at the Dowse. Their latest pamphlet covers 28 events until April. The big ground floor exhibition at the moment is Local Knowledge, a collection of material loosely grouped under the subject of “place, time and what it means to be at home”. To be honest, most of this stuff is fairly unspectacular. There’s a display by Julian Priest of a new time zone created for the Dowse which is calculated by how busy things are inside, but the equipment was broken when I saw it. Zheng Guogu has created a personal world in Age of Empires, represented by a ten minute video which doesn’t move much. There’s an elaborate installation by Dan Arps constructed from junk brought in by the Dowse staff which you can walk through, but it just looks like recycling day. The one video installation which is interesting and actually works is UK artist Simon Faithfull’s 0˚00 Navigation film, which shows him doggedly walking along the Greenwich Meridian, no matter what gets in his way. There’s the usual tasteful Ans Westra photos, a selection taken in Lower Hutt, Petone and Naenae showing ordinary people from previous decades. As a whole it’s all a bit antiseptic with rare flashes of humour – a cassette tape carved out of jade, and a selection of Fiona Jack’s collection of amateur paintings of local war memorials.

Upstairs is Bedazzled, a large collection of the Royal NZ ballet costumes designed by Kristian Fredrikson from the 1960s to the 1990s. The costumes are from crowdpleasing productions (A Christmas Carol, Swan Lake, Cinderella) but the costumes are detailed and subversive – seemingly fragile assemblages of fine fabrics which had to look good from a distance and withstand the rigours of performance. There’s also an interesting selection of his sketches and colour tests.





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