Jan Warburton Charitable Trust

Auckland Art Gallery Chartwell Triennial Show

Juliet Carpenter & Biljana Popovici

Juliet Carpenter
Juliet Carpenter. Born 1990. Lives and works in Auckland, New Zealand

Juliet Carpenter knows that her audiences are used to the wallpaper sounds and appealing visual devices that float behind much of our contemporary experience. These moments appear to be the material of her work, yet all elements are literally built to exist on the same surface register. Into this she inserts the possibility for authentic meaning.

In her recent work Carpenter works with recurrent neural networks (RNNs) to generate text in a kind of sorting or filtering processes, from information to disinformation. This scattering and reforming is both artificially organised and guided to produce a kind of script for her video work. In Cast out of Heaven, the text is then potently humanised through two distinctly female voice-overs and set against a collage of sounds and imagery that is both romantic and melancholy – stereotypic signatures of the Artist. All are edited together to emphasise their status as a set of collages with sharp shifts and separations. Philosopher Gilles Deleuze talks about this separation of voice and visual image as ‘an act of resistance’. Certainly the question lingers for the audience, ‘how seriously should we take the text?’ which lurches from absence, intimacy to discarded empathy:

All year. It has been five or ten years/ with nothing. That’s enough for me/ Your voice sounds like your name should be Caroline/ If one of us doesn’t get a minor cancer/ then we haven’t worked hard enough.”

Collectively the search appears to be to find a “femme” subject. A Caroline that is knowable, that we can be intimate with from this series of heady excerpts. As a closer, our now obviously digital Caroline echoes a scream/cry which is both human and artifice.

Cast out of Heaven 2017
HD video and animation, sound, colour, [5:45]
Commissioned by Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, 2017
Supported by the Chartwell Trust and the Jan Warburton Trust
Courtesy of the artist
Artistic collaborator: Gregory Kan
Character animation: Hazel J Ewer and Bailey Hooson
Other animation: Sorawit Songsataya
Actor: Mandy Thomsett-Taylor

Biljana Popovic
Born 1990. Lives and works in Auckland, New Zealand

Surrounding Juliet Carpenter’s video projection is what appears to be a pop-up theatre designed by collaborator Biljana Popovic. The ornate architecture of the cinema theatre is something of the past for today’s viewing audiences. So this representation at first glance appears to offer a nostalgic overture towards an audience who had the time to sit still and be entertained. Yet rather than fulfilling the promise towards the heyday of theatre comfort, Popovic utilises a set of references to the industry of architecture geared towards re-creating the past. This is a theatre of veneers compiled of kits-set parquet floor, computer cut villa posts, and paper-thin cedar tiles.

In addition, and perhaps more unsettling, is the structural use of the word ‘intersectional’, a catch-phrase of contemporary feminist theory, adjacent to the twentieth century’s symbol of female labour.* These contemporary emblems take the place of Greek and Latin letters in ancient architecture, and operate like headlines or given statements. The word ‘intersectional’ is not the title of the work, but it functions like an architectural placard merging feminist theory with a hypothetical design theory. With this subtle range of inversions, Popovic hints at the way our design and architectural environment already uses the past to try to solidify or romanticise the precarity of the present. Here even Andromeda, the beauty of Greek mythology who was punished and chained to the rocks, is given a northern European inflection to her name, made more desirable – more mobile for contemporary tastes.

* Intersectionality is a term coined by American civil rights advocate Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw to describe overlapping or intersecting social identities and related systems of oppression, domination, or discrimination.

Andromöeda 2017
graphic vinyl on Paylite, laser cut timber, MDF, custom-turned veranda posts, stained cedar roof shingles, vinyl flooring and LED lighting
Commissioned by Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, 2017
Supported by the Chartwell Trust and the Jan Warburton Trust
Courtesy of the artist

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