Arts shows different side to NZ

CHARLIE GATES
Last updated 10:49 04/08/2014
Aaron Kreisler
Simon Wilson
SHOWING WORLD DIFFERENT SIDE TO NZ: Dunedin Public Art Gallery curator Aaron Kreisler at the City Art Centre in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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A video of a driver doing burn-outs and portraits of vegans are among the works representing New Zealand at a major art show in Edinburgh.

A group of contemporary New Zealand artists are exhibiting in Britain for the first time as part of a show exploring the idea of the Commonwealth.

The Where Do I End and You Begin show is part of the Edinburgh Art Festival, one of six major festivals that take place in the Scottish capital during August.

The New Zealand showing in the exhibition forms part of a broader showcase of Kiwi art and theatre at Edinburgh this year with funding support from arts council Creative New Zealand. The British Council and the Edinburgh Art Festival also helped fund the exhibition.

The City Arts Centre in Edinburgh invited artists from New Zealand, South Africa, India, Canada and the UK to bring pieces that reflect on themes of commonwealth.

Steve Carr, Gavin Hipkins and Yvonne Todd from Auckland, Shannon Te Ao of Wellington and Kushana Bush of Dunedin all have work in the exhibition.

Steve Carr's Burn Out features a slow-motion video of a driver performing a donut in his car on an Auckland street.

One of Todd's artworks features a series of 10 seemingly unconnected portraits, but the title of the piece gives away their common bond - Ethical Minorities (Vegans).

Todd said the New Zealand works slyly subvert the idea of commonwealth.

"They don't obviously reference the commonwealth. It is subtle. It is low level subversion,'' she said.

"Our economy is a production economy, so having vegans represent us abroad is quite funny."

The New Zealand part of the exhibition was curated by Aaron Kreisler of Dunedin Public Art Gallery.

He said Burn Out was showing the world a different side to New Zealand.

"I thought we could show many sides of New Zealand that weren't a Pacific paradise or the sublime landscape. I think in a way it is good to show a side of New Zealand that we don't celebrate ourselves."

"The smoke from the burn-out becomes beautiful. Something that is banned in our country has a sense of beauty to it."

Edinburgh Arts Festival director Sorcha Carey said the New Zealand work was "extraordinary". She said the vegan portraits highlighted an "invisible community'' similar to the Commonwealth.

"All those Commonwealth countries inhabit a different world now. The Commonwealth came into existence when London was the centre of the world.

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"But what does it mean now? What is it we have in common that draws us together?"

"[The driver doing a burn-out] is part of the community, but not a version of New Zealand that people would think about."

Charlie Gates is in Edinburgh with assistance from Creative New Zealand.

Tomorrow: My night as a zombie.

- The Press

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