Saturday, May 25, 2024

Exhibition explores culture and celebrity

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The Te Tuhi art gallery in Pakuranga is staging an exhibition of work by Iris Fisher Scholarship winner Xi Li. Photo supplied

Highly thoughtful artworks by a former winner of the prestigious Iris Fisher Scholarship are on public display in east Auckland.

Te Tuhi art gallery in Pakuranga is staging what it describes as an “immersive and ambitious interdisciplinary exhibition” by Xi Li, who won the scholarship in 2021.

That was the same year she received a Master of Fine Arts degree with first-class honours from Auckland’s Elam School of Fine Arts.

Prior to this, Li earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photo Media from Whitecliffe College in 2019 where she was named its top student and awarded its Photo Media Prize.

Te Tuhi communications and programme co-ordinator Sophie Elborough says Li’s work explores various experimental concepts through Eastern and Western philosophical frameworks, with topics covering identity, ideology, subjectivity, sub-culture, popular culture, globalisation and more.

Her exhibition at the Pakuranga gallery is curated by Andrew Kennedy and entitled Xi Li: The Transcendence Labyrinth of Idols.

It draws from the artist’s treatise completed in her final year of university, Elborough says.

“Li questions how cultures are becoming more mythical within contemporary society because of the status and devotion to pop icons and celebrity figures.

“The installation comprises 11 posters which hang from the ceiling encompassing the viewer while a central video work plays on the gallery’s back wall.

“Below your feet are two projections on the floor while three 3D-printed sculptures reside on podiums in the centre of the room.

“Li has constructed a transcendent universe where material is borrowed from the real world but transformed in a ‘surreal dream utopia’ driven by impulse and desire.”

Elborough says since 2007 Te Tuhi, in partnership with the well-known Fisher family, has supported the development of emerging New Zealand artists through the Iris Fisher Scholarship.

The scholarship supports a postgraduate student in their final year of a visual or fine arts course of study.

Its namesake was a founding member of the Pakuranga Arts Society and the driving force behind the creation of the Fisher Gallery, later to become Te Tuhi, Elborough says.

“Her original bequest has fostered contemporary visual arts practice and art education.

“The support of the Iris Fisher Scholarship allows Li to further develop her practice, just as it has for the previous 14 recipients who received the scholarship since 2007.

“The $5000 awarded through the scholarship supports the completion of the recipient’s final year of tertiary study.

“Previous scholarship winners have used the funds to travel back to their ancestral homelands, pursue field research overseas or create large scale work to complete their studies.”

Elborough says Te Tuhi is pleased to have been able to support Li in having her own solo exhibition following the encouragement the Iris Fisher Scholarship provided.

Li’s exhibition is on display at Te Tuhi, 13 Reeves Road, Pakuranga, until January 29.

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