Curated by Ann Shelton and Alice Tappenden
Headcount comprises works by a group of contemporary artists using photography: Peter Madden, Richard Orjis, Greg Semu and Christian Thompson. All four artists have worked in the Pacific, or with Pacific themes, and in various ways have engaged the baroque and its iconographies. Headcount uses the theories of Mieke Bal’s Quoting Caravaggio: Contemporary Art, Preposterous History, as one starting point to consider how the quotation of the Baroque can influence our interpretations of artworks in both the past and the present.
The visual and ideological similarities between the selected works, and the affinities they share with the Baroque period, are striking. Utilising foreshortening, Baroque figures often appear from deep, black backgrounds to project beyond the picture plane, collapsing the distance between our world and theirs and pulling the viewer into the work. Madden, Orjis, Semu and Thompson employ these visual devices in their works, translating them into the medium of photography.
All four artists make works that address the lands in which they live in a theatrical manner. They blend ritualistic, cult undertones of New Zealand, Pacific and Australian society with elements of the banal and the everyday, marring their semi-imagined lands with blood, colonisation, ritual, excess and sacrifice, in a way that re-visions the Baroque through a contemporary lens.
Headcount is an Enjoy Trustees Project. The Enjoy Trust consists of Ann Shelton (Chair), Bryna O' Brien (Treasurer), Alice Tappenden (Secretary), Sarah Caylor (Strategic Development), Kate Adolph (General Trustee), Gary Peters (General Trustee), Alice Baxter (General Trustee) and Jessica Hubbard (General Trustee). Previous Trust projects have included the Enjoy Cookbook, a project that invited artistic responses to recipes from the Enjoy Community.
Headcount is presented in conjunction with Strange Baroque Ecologies as part of The Aotearoa Baroque project. This project is generously supported by Whiti o Rehua The School of Art, College of Creative Arts, Massey University, New Zealand and Service Print Wellington.