14 July — 14 August 2021
14 July — 14 August 2021
Stars is a solo presentation of new work by Tāmaki Makaurau-based artist Meg Porteous. The narrative potential of images is explored via a suite of photographic works that include large-scale digital prints, colour darkroom prints, memorabilia and found images.
I was falling.
Through a cone of utter blackness I fell.
I fell another thousand years and, below, something began to sparkle.*
Unfolding throughout the rooms of the lower level of the gallery, Stars consists of clusters of images that constellate around themes of aspiration, self-identification, doubling, role-play, healing, science fiction and self-actualisation.
Crown-first, a model wearing the artist’s clothes becomes a doppelganger who seems to be stared at by a child actress from her autographed image. Porteous’ ancestress is re-imagined through stock imagery, twice. Medical equipment and flotation tanks de-virtualise science-fiction imaginings. Boyant, saline solution is transfigured to become lake water through which the artist swims and peers through at her beholders. Bathing in the golden light of magic hour, things ascend as an astronaut gazes down at the blue marble of planet earth beneath her. A hand is in front of the scrubbing through of footage of en- gulfing, planetary-sized grief and the underside of a Japanese import resembles the roof of a mysterious cavern. In the midst of an elaborate shoot the artist stands by a smoke-machine, wet hair clinging to her pale upper back. Through a trick of composition a domestic dryer resembles space-craft and a figure searches, lost in the aisles of a pharmacy warehouse.
Within Stars a kind of auto-biography is gently constructed with the aid of various forms of image-making. Choice of medium, camera angle, selection, cropping, framing and the imaging of images are all mobil- ised by Porteous to try out different facets and possibilties of self. Yet she also muddies authorship by collaborating with friends and family to obtain the exact photographs she is after. There is no doubt that what is presented is a self that contains multitudes, the latest version, one of many, a composite made up of little snatches of film history, music video production, streamed video-content, stock images, family photography, Korean beauty products, private imaginings and fantasies.
*Witi Ihimaera, The Dream Swimmer (Auckland: Penguin, 1997), 367.