For those familiar with Raise the anchor, unfurl the sails, set course to the centre of an ever setting sun!, Nathan Pōhio’s illuminated sculptures in The Mist and the Horizon may appear atypical of the artist. Te Maku and Māhoranuiātea and Kohora draw from a different kind of archive, a Ngāi Tahu creation narrative. A constellation of figures; representations of Te Maku – the mist, and Māhoranuiātea – the horizon, meet on the gallery floor while a Kohora figure, lightning, pauses on the wall. These figures provide the only light in the space and with little else for the eye to be drawn to, the details of the sculptures are easy to linger on, inviting endless complexities to the simple forms much in the same way as with Shaw’s sound work. Like pushing air around is a two-channel sound work installed in the two voids of the North Gallery. The work features variations on octaves of F and B-flat performed on Shaw’s broken electronic organ.
I saw once – in a church – a sign for “Organ Donations”.
The sound changes shape based on my movements in relation to the speakers and the architecture but it’s harder to tell to what extent my perception is changed by tuning in or out of attentiveness; lulled into complacency by listening to the same tones. Still, I anticipate some change which never really arrives. The complexities of the sound, whether imagined or performed, maintain a continuous beginning, interrupted by its own duration. The differing lengths of each track means that they overlap in subtly different ways. Inevitably, there is a point at which both tracks end at once and there is an abrupt silence – one of the few occasions upon which silence can be jolting. The light works with the (near-) continuous sound seem to wait but without urgency, unconcerned with time despite Shaw deliberately basing the lengths of the tracks on the radio standard.
CoCA Toi Moroki’s Mair and North Gallery spaces have a strained relationship. With there being no clear threshold between them, one space will often leak into the next either conceptually, visibly or sonically. Without the impact of a doorway as a cognitive signal I find I’m often still trying to make connections within one exhibition before I register being in an entirely different one. The Mist and the Horizon unobtrusively permeates the Mark Work exhibition in the Mair Gallery which reciprocates by extending the broad framework of mark-making to the gestural works of Shaw and Pōhio. The North Gallery can be an awkward exhibition space; the low ceiling, the stairwell and elevator shaft – it feels, sometimes, like a transitional liminal space before reaching the voids which default to containing the 'main' features. The Mist and the Horizon does a lot to fill, but not overwhelm, the impressionable North Gallery.
Nathan Pōhio and Luke Shaw, The Mist and the Horizon, CoCA Toi Moroki, 66 Gloucester Street
12 June – 28 August
Nathan Pōhio and Luke Shaw, The Mist and the Horizon, 2021. CoCA Centre of Contemporary Art Toi Moroki. Image: John Collie courtesy of CoCA