(Auckland, New Zeland)
The unsettling and liberating nature of social behaviour are explored in Share/Cheat/Unite an exhibition in three parts: a group show, a research initiative and a series of live offsite commissions. The exhibition delves into the human psyche to consider how altruism, cheating and group formation appear to play a key role in shaping society but not necessarily in the way we might assume. Could it be that when we cheat and lie we are not doing wrong but rather acting out instinctual aspects of innovation for the greater good? Likewise, when we claim to be altruistic by sharing are we not aiming to personally benefit in some way? When we form groups are we really free thinking individuals or do we become mindless units bound by social mimicry and crowd unity? And, could this moral ambiguity between our destructive and our humane tendencies be the reason for our evolutionary advantage over other species?
These questions are also particularly important in the work of artists who directly address social relations. At best such artists can contribute moments of political clarity, lateral thinking, social cohesion or warranted provocation. Other times artists can get it considerably wrong by misunderstanding cultural contexts, superficially engaging with communities, dabbling in areas they do not have expertise and manufacturing positive outcomes. For better or worse artists are irrevocably embroiled in the social fray and aspects of altruism, cheating and group formation are intentionally or unintentionally bound within this exchange. With this in mind, Share/Cheat/Unite is also intended to be a forum to scrutinise current artistic practice by questioning: What role do art objects and documentation play in addressing the social? How do artists utilise conversation as a tool when working in a social capacity? And, what social function does the live context play in art?
Share/Cheat/Unite is also an experiment in curatorial practice by intentionally seeking out an emergent proposition rather than a didactic theme. For instance, some of the selected works are inadvertently related to the topic and others could be perceived as a resistance to or a contradiction within the curatorial premise. In the commissioning process, the artists and other participants have been invited to debate, collaborate and even direct the curatorial framing. The concept of the show is also intended to contribute towards a type of long-term conversation with other curators and art organisations. As part of this initiative, a different show of the same name is planned to be curated in 2017 by Balamohan Shingade at the Malcolm Smith Gallery, Auckland. Through this curatorial approach, it is hoped that the exhibition might become an unpredictable forum that unfolds over time to encourage discussion and participation.
The group show features an international selection of existing artworks that inadvertently unpack social psychology by addressing a range of socio-political topics through photography, design, documented performance, collaborative and video-based practices. Hu Xiangqian performed an impassioned motivational speech to an assembly of indifferent school students. Aníbal López staged a public event where the public could talk to a contracted assassin. Sasha Huber deconstructs the racist legacy of a nineteenth-century glaciologist. Jonathas de Andrade convinced officials to enable a horse race in downtown Recife, Brazil. Yu-Cheng Chou’s publication tells the life story of a man called Lu Chieh-Te. Vaughn Sadie and the Ntsoana Contemporary Dance Theatre group organised a series of public happenings that questioned the supposedly democratic process of urban planning.
The research initiative, run by artist and academic Melissa Laing, is a month-long programme of discussions, workshops and lectures taking place throughout September that explores the importance of conversation in artistic practices. If you would like to participate in this please enquire at reception or email: email@example.com
Live Offsite Works
In October, Share/Cheat/Unite also features a series of live offsite commissions across Auckland that aim to entice, empower and confound. These include projects by artists Darcell Apelu, Mark Harvey, Ivan Mršić, John Vea and an ambiguous movement called YOUAREHEREWEAREHERE. Stay tuned to Te Tuhi’s website and social media for updates on these live events.
“Share/Cheat/Unite”, group show with Jonathas de Andrade, Darcell Apelu, Yu-Cheng Chou, Mark Harvey, Sasha Huber, Anibal Lopez, Ivan Mršić, John Vea, Hu Xiangqian, Vaughn Sadie and Ntsoana Contemporary Dance Theatre.
Curated by Bruce E. Phillips
Opening: 13th August
On view through 23rd October
13 Reeves Rd, Pakuranga – Auckland, Aotearoa, New Zealand
Working hours: Sun-Mon, 9am to 5pm
Tel: (+64) 9 577 0138
View more works by the artist, who was a PIPA 2011 Finalist and nominee in 2010: