Artists break window for exhibition

Artists break window for exhibition

Isabella Dampney and Theo Macdonald, 2018. Image courtesy of Xander Dixon and Enjoy Public Art Gallery.

Two young and ambitious artists from Auckland have broken a window at Enjoy Public Art Gallery on Cuba Street. The gallery space has been left empty – but this is not laziness, the artists insist.

Through their exhibition – ‘Heart of Glass’ – Isabella Dampney and Theo McDonald are aiming to tap into an ongoing conversation about contemporary art in New Zealand media.

McDonald said, “New Zealand has a very specific relationship with publicly funded artworks that cause media uproar.”

Dampney said that controversial, contemporary artworks could often be seen as “a massive waste of public money, for what is a seemingly stupid act, activity, product, or whatever.”

Breaking the window could be seen as redundant in this way, but that’s exactly what the exhibition was about – starting a conversation about what art means.

The exhibition takes its name from Blondie’s 1979 hit single “Heart of Glass”. Dampney and McDonald said, “One of the hardest things about choosing to make contemporary art is the knowledge that your work will never be as widely distributed as Debbie Harry’s.

“What we do takes a lot of effort for very little return.”

As part of the project, Dampney and McDonald, who are also musicians, recorded their own ambient cover of the original song.

They reflect on the 1970s era of disco, new wave and rock n’ roll music to connect to a bygone radio era.

Curator Sophie Davis said the exhibition puts an emphasis on conversation instead of being confined within the gallery space.

“Bella and Theo are playfully thinking about how people relate to and understand contemporary art – which tends to be viewed with a certain kind of humour or even suspicion – compared with, say, pop music.”

Viewers can take part in the exhibition and occupy the empty space with conversation about the broken window.

Isabella Dampney and Theo Macdonald, 2018. Image courtesy of Xander Dixon and Enjoy Public Art Gallery.

McDonald is a BFA (Hons) graduate of Elam School of Fine Arts. He co-hosts the weekly radio show Artbank, on 95bFM, and co-founded the art-punk bank ‘PISS CANNONN’ with Isabella Dampney.

Dampney is also a BFA (Hons) graduate, from the University of Auckland. Some of her previous exhibitions include: Bella and Theory IDEATE!, I Think We Should Put Some Mountains Here, and Avoiding Climax: Bella and Theo Understand it Better but the Frog Dies.

Heart of Glass remains open at Enjoy Public Art Gallery until April 7.

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Article by Louis Davis

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