Dark Matter: An exhibition by Ann Shelton

by Metro / 19 January, 2017
Ann Shelton

A new exhibition draws attention to the link between violence and issues of power, control and femininity.

Shelton, made her name in the late 90s with Redeye, a book of photographs of K’ Rd’s edgy art, music and drug scenes. Redeye had embedded within it two difficult questions for Shelton: what did it mean to simultaneously be an insider and an observer? And what did it mean to expose her friends so starkly to the public glare?

Her response was to remove people altogether from her work, opting instead for an approach that pointed to absent presences. Issues of gender, and specifically the ways women are represented, also became her main subject.

In the early 2000s, she made the series “Public Places”, in which she photographed sites associated in our mythic consciousness with acts of female violence: Hanging Rock, the quiet bush path where the Parker-Hulme murder took place, Minnie Dean’s grave, among others. They are still among her best works.

Modern Girl (1999).

Since then, transgression, violence and trauma have always bubbled just under the slick surfaces of her photographs. In the opening room of Dark Matter, two walls are lined almost wall to ceiling with photos of oak trees, half of them the right way up, the others upside down. They’re some of the many “Hitler oaks” around the world, grown from the seedlings given to gold-medal winners at the 1936 Berlin Olympics — including Jack Lovelock’s, which is still in Shelton’s hometown of Timaru. Alongside this is Shelton’s latest series, “Jane Says”: brightly coloured ikebana arrangements that use plants traditionally associated with controlling fertility and menstruation.

Shelton’s photos remind us we come from a place where questions of power, control and femininity underpin much of the violence that has shaped our culture. At her best, her work doesn’t over-reach for easy answers, leaving us unsure whether we should trust her as a detective or revel in the murky histories and myths she simultaneously exploits, honours and reimagines. 

Ann Shelton: Dark Matter,
Auckland Art Gallery, to April 17,
aucklandartgallery.com

This article is published in the January- February 2017 issue of Metro. Follow Metro on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and sign up to the weekly e-mail

MostReadArticlesCollectionWidget - Most Read - Used in articles
AdvertModule - Advert - M-Rec / Halfpage

Latest

How to lose weight without a diet
87141 2018-02-25 00:00:00Z Nutrition

How to lose weight without a diet

by Jennifer Bowden

"The irony is the intentional pursuit of weight loss – dieting, in other words – is actually a predictor of future weight gain."

Read more
Baby boomers are rethinking retirement for a later-life reboot
87313 2018-02-24 00:00:00Z Social issues

Baby boomers are rethinking retirement for a later…

by Sally Blundell

The biggest cohort of baby boomers is reaching retirement age – and many are not planning a quiet dotage.

Read more
School shootings and Russian indictments
87455 2018-02-24 00:00:00Z World

School shootings and Russian indictments

by Joanne Black

Slaughter in a school and Russian social-media mischief: the US is under siege.

Read more
Beck to go back to basics at Auckland City Limits
87417 2018-02-24 00:00:00Z Profiles

Beck to go back to basics at Auckland City Limits

by James Belfield

Before headlining Auckland City Limits, Beck talks about celebrating his musical past on stage and on record.

Read more
Islands of the Gulf: How the Hauraki has changed
87427 2018-02-24 00:00:00Z Television

Islands of the Gulf: How the Hauraki has changed

by Fiona Rae

A broadcaster revisits her mother’s iconic Islands of the Gulf TV series to see what’s changed since the 60s.

Read more
Hokianga's Wild West fest's unusual way of fundraising
86388 2018-02-24 00:00:00Z Life in NZ

Hokianga's Wild West fest's unusual way of fundrai…

by Peter De Graaf

Once a year, the Wild West saddles up and rides into Waimamaku for a day of highway robbery.

Read more
Back on track: $60m to go into regional rail
87519 2018-02-23 14:43:30Z Economy

Back on track: $60m to go into regional rail

by Jane Patterson

Five regions will receive just over $60 million for rebooting rail in the first chunk of money from the Provincial Growth Fund.

Read more
Ricky Houghton is about finding innovative solutions to the issues facing Māori
87510 2018-02-23 14:21:31Z Profiles

Ricky Houghton is about finding innovative solutio…

by Clare de Lore

No government on their own can fix the problems facing Māori in the Far North, warns Local Hero of the Year Ricky Houghton.

Read more