We heard about the Ron Mueck sculpture exhibition at the Christchurch Art Gallery on Sunday morning 17 October. It was described in terms of its realism and in terms of the responses provoked by the works. So by Sunday afternoon we were queuing up and paying our $15 ready to be surprised and amazed. And surprised and amazed we were. The first piece was entitled Dead Dad and was a three-foot long naked corpse on the floor of a dimly lit room. It looked life/death-like, except for being half size. So began an amazing exhibition.
Early on I saw a kid going around with a camera which I thought was odd and expected the camera-policing people to crack down on him. Eventually I saw signs indicating that photography is allowed, without flash and without disturbing other viewers. It is very generous and unusual to allow cameras and already I was cursing leaving mine in the car. There were mostly camera phones pressed into action to try to capture the detail of the exhibits. I wasn’t interested in that so much as the viewers trying to come to terms with each piece. Plus Mueck messes with our minds by making his sculptures half life-size, or double life size, or bigger. For me the fascinating pictures were the contrasting sizes of us and the exhibits.
Eventually I went and asked permission to go and fetch my camera and I was able to capture some of the exhibition. Without flash photography I had to resort to 400-800 ISO which compromised on quality but that was a price I was prepared to pay. I was very happy with the results which capture some of the interest and excitement stimulated by the exhibition.
It is a great exhibition. I’ve never seen anything like it for provoking emotional responses. You cannot just walk through them as you might wander through a room of paintings. The big/little scale of them all was a brilliant ploy to force a response as well. Was small suggesting vulnerability and big suggesting power?
If you happen to be in Christchurch through the rest of this year then we’d both highly recommend a visit to the exhibition. This is the only place it’s available in New Zealand and is the biggest collection made available in the Southern Hemisphere. It is special.