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Now, Then, Next: Time and the Contemporary

Harriet Litten

Now, Then, Next: Time and the Contemporary, curated by Lara Strongman for the Christchurch Art Gallery, showcases artists engaging with ideas, anxieties and comprehensions of time. Humanity seem to have an inability to sit comfortably with the abstract notion of time. As a general rule, we have instead identified three states: past, present and future. These states of existence allow some kind of compartmentalisation of anxieties, apprehensions or anticipations which could otherwise spiral into flurries of existential panic.

Specifically, Now, Then, Next provides examples of the ways that humanity often clings to physical markers of time in order to consider it beyond the theoretical and abstract. Strongman has brought together a series of beautiful contemporary works that employ time’s tangibility as mediums through which it can be conceived.

The artists included in Now, Then, Next interpret the intricacies of time differently.  Marie Shannon’s Car Stories (2018) uses cars as identifiers of different eras in the artist’s life. Using the vehicles that she has owned, or driven regularly, Shannon pin-points events in her life and reminisces about the past. How we mark our perception of time typically relates to physical objects like this: what car did we drive? What house were we living in?

Tim Veiling’s photographs of the Christchurch Red Zone, cleared of residential housing after the 2010/2011 Canterbury Earthquakes explore how time impacts on place and cultural memory. In particular, Veiling’s images interrogate the ways that time seems to stand still —with no real decisions on the future — and simultaneously time rushes by, with suburban gardens becoming suburban forests.

Sophie Bannan considers how we hold on to the past. Repurposing building material from demolished, iconic Christchurch architecture, Bannan created pottery that continues the cycle of degradation and revitalization of cultural material and memory.

The subjective nature of experiencing time in Now, Then Next presents numerous valuable perspectives. To walk through the space and to consider one’s own responses to times past, present and future is a brilliant starting point, with Strongman’s texts moreover, presenting her perspectives on these themes. Now, Then, Next offers thought-provoking art works and a curatorial framework which encourages one’s own consideration of time and all of its convolutions.

Now, Then, Next: Time and the Contemporary

Christchurch Art Gallery Te Pua o Waiwhetu

Cnr Worcester Boulevard and Montreal St

15 June – 8 March 2020

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  1. Tim J. Veling Halley Place, Avonside, 2015, Spring, During a Nor-west Wind 2015. Archival pigment print on gloss baryta paper. Collection of Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū, purchased 2018

Harriet Litten reviews Now, Then, Next- Time and the Contemporary - clinging to markers beyond the abstract

 
 
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