Gavin Hipkins: The Domain
25 Nov 2017 – 25 Mar 2018
"What impresses with The Domain is the consistency of tone. You realise that every work is a piece in a larger cross-referenced puzzle—a Hipkins universe—and that that’s always been the case. But it took this show to reveal that."
——Robert Leonard, Chief Curator, City Gallery Wellington
New Zealand artist Gavin Hipkins’ career is characterised by a remarkable fluidity, spanning a wide range of photographic media, from slide transparencies to photograms to moving image.
From 25 November 2017 to 11 February 2018 The Dowse proudly presented Gavin Hipkins: The Domain, an expansive survey of this New Zealand photographer's work. The exhibition filled all The Dowse's ground floor galleries, and brought together 25 years' of artmaking, arranged into two themes: Hipkins' experiments with photography as a medium, and ways of presenting photographs, and the recurrent conceptual themes in Hipkins' work.
From 12 February 2018 we closed the section of the show exploring Hipkins' experiments with photography as a medium, in order to install the new exhibition The Language of Things. However, three galleries of The Domain remain open, focused on Hipkins' particular interests in architecture, in the expression of settler culture identities, and the ongoing impacts of colonisation. This section of the exhibition runs until 25 March 2018.
The Domain reveals an ever-evolving practice which returns again and again a set of core concerns: photography as the predominant form of modernist visual communication; the nation state and national identity; exploration and colonisation in the modern era; how social and political ideologies visually shape the world we live in.
Early in his career, Hipkins was described by fellow artist and writer Giovanni Intra as a "tourist of photography". This epithet has been used repeatedly by commentators on Hipkins' work, to describe two distinct, yet intertwined, aspects of his practice: as art historian Peter Brunt puts it, Hipkins is a constantly travelling photographer, “an iconographer of desire, travel, time and ... modern communities", and as tourist within the medium, “a great manipulator of the photographic artifact itself: its materiality, formats, systems, modes of installation and display".
The Domain presents major, well-known bodies of work including The Habitat (1999–2000), Hipkins' study of Brutalist architecture on New Zealand universities; The Homely (1997–2000), a photographic tour through New Zealand and Australia, nominated for the inaugural Walters Prize; The Colony (2000–2002), shown at the 28th Sao Paulo Biennale; and This Fine Island (2012), his short film which revisits Charles Darwin's journey to the Bay of Islands in New Zealand in 1835. By showing these key pieces alongside lesser-known and less frequently seen works, and photographs from his student days right up to 2017, the exhibition is an opportunity for followers of Hipkins' work to see how his career has unfolded, and for newcomers to discover one of our most innovative investigations of photography—its power and its shortcomings.
Downloadable exhibition guide
We have created a 22-page booklet with information about the works in the exhibition which you can use at the gallery or download here.
About the artist
Gavin Hipkins (born 1968, Auckland) holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Auckland and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of British Columbia; he is currently Associate Professor at Elam School of Fine Arts at the University of Auckland.
Hipkins has exhibited extensively in solo and group shows throughout New Zealand and internationally. His film works have been shown in festivals including the New Zealand International Film Festival, the Edinburgh Art Festival, and the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen. He has held a number of residencies, including the inaugural New Zealand artist residency at Artspace Sydney, the McCahon House Residency, and the International Studio and Curatorial Program artist residency in New York.
The Domain is also an extensively illustrated book that combines new essays with a selection of art writing from the past 20 years.
In the media
The Only Show in Town, Robert Leonard, City Gallery Wellington
Gavin Hipkins show to be the largest ever exhibition at the Dowse in Lower Hutt, Hutt News, 9 November 2017
Gavin Hipkins interviewed by Kim Hill on Radio New Zealand, 18 November 2017
Unmissable moments – Gavin Hipkins: The Domain, media release
Wellington gallery The Dowse shows major retrospective of Gavin Hipkins, from HOME Magazine
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