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

The Man Who Invented Christmas – movie review
85037 2017-12-14 00:00:00Z Movies

The Man Who Invented Christmas – movie review

by James Robins

A charming drama captures Dickens as he creates his Yuletide classic.

Read more
Electronic music duo Sachi on how they create their beat
84710 2017-12-14 00:00:00Z Music

Electronic music duo Sachi on how they create thei…

by India Hendrikse

Electronic duo Sachi, aka Nick Chrisp and Will Thomas, were plugged by Diplo back in 2015. Now, the 19 year olds are poised to be the next big thing.

Read more
Christmas dinner: Everything you need for a three-course festive feast
85039 2017-12-14 00:00:00Z Food

Christmas dinner: Everything you need for a three-…

by Lauraine Jacobs

There’s something for everyone in the family this Christmas dinner.

Read more
The unsung heroes of Auckland's restaurant kitchens
84948 2017-12-14 00:00:00Z Dining

The unsung heroes of Auckland's restaurant kitchen…

by Kate Richards

Nothing happens if the dishes don’t get done.

Read more
Where to see Christmas lights in Auckland, plus more festive activities
85033 2017-12-13 15:52:06Z What's on

Where to see Christmas lights in Auckland, plus mo…

by India Hendrikse

The Paperboy agenda. Your guide to what's on now and later in Auckland!

Read more
They're only 19 but electro-pop Auckland duo Sachi is aiming for the top
85016 2017-12-13 15:21:46Z Music

They're only 19 but electro-pop Auckland duo Sachi…

by India Hendrikse

They've been plugged by mega-producer Diplo, and now Auckland duo Sachi is gearing up for the next level.

Read more
How music is therapy for neo-soul singer Bailey Wiley
85010 2017-12-13 14:37:24Z Dining

How music is therapy for neo-soul singer Bailey Wi…

by India Hendrikse

After performing with Syd Tha Kyd in the US, Bailey Wiley is back recording her upcoming new album.

Read more
Four summer festivals in Auckland you won't want to miss
84999 2017-12-13 14:02:06Z What's on

Four summer festivals in Auckland you won't want t…

by India Hendrikse

Start booking your tickets: These summer festivals will be full of sunshine, good beats and good people.

Read more