Art Work review – Something to Remember, by Alexis Neal and Elke Finkenauer

Something to remember banner

Something to Remember was a collaborative exhibition by Alexis Neal and Elke Finkenauer, installed at the Gus Fisher Gallery, Auckland from 5 May – 9 June 2018.

The Gus Fisher Gallery notes that “The point of departure for the exhibition was the artists’ individual and collective response to ideas emerging from Nothing to Remember! and Ode to Forgetfulness – two artist books created by Louise Bourgeois not long before her death.” On the whole the exhibition reads as a contemporary reflection on Bourgeois’s work, and how she represented ideas around memory and personal history, real or imagined. Adding new stories or ideas about childhood, suggestions of memory and personal narrative feature throughout Neal’s work, with more abstracted imagery in Finkenauer’s printed work, which again touches lightly on the idea of trace/memory.

Installed in the room were framed prints on the gallery walls, Neal’s prints were three high on one wall, Finkenauer’s prints were in a single line, across two walls. Printed / woven panels and rope, were suspended from the walls and crossing the gallery space, to enter and view the art work, the visitor had to negotiate a path through these objects. There were two printed artist books, each placed on a table. Neale’s book, printed on paper, rested on a school desk with a small chair; Finkenauer’s book, printed on cloth, at a taller table, to be read while standing. Both books had white cloth gloves beside or on the books, inviting interaction and ‘reading’ of the books. The colour palette moved between almost blood red, light browns, cream and black.  The prints around the room were similar if not the same as the content of the books. This appeared to be a reference to Bourgeois’s own books which were made and displayed in a similar way, as books, or framed wall works.

I was interested in the choice to include rope and woven panels in the installation, these felt like devices that both connect and divide the space, and were perhaps necessary for that function. It is a collaborative, two person exhibition, the voices of both artists are present, yet there is still a sense of connection within the installation, the panels and ropes also seemed to relate to both Neal’s work in print and weaving and Finkenauer’s own practice which often incorporates line and drawing in various media.

The work I was most drawn to was Neal’s book, consisting of prints, drawing and writing  on paper. I really enjoyed sitting at the desk, and turning the pages, I felt almost as though I may have been intruding, it was like discovering a child’s school notebooks, and not as intimate as a diary. The language, format and graphic content, reminded me of my old school writing or music exercise books. The use of the desk and chair was inviting and effective, it felt appropriate for me to sit and read this book, even if I was prying.

The imagery in the Neal’s book gave me a sense of community, family, and connection through a personal narrative. Elements of the content stirred memories for me, perhaps the school desk, perhaps the colour and texture of the paper? The almost cloth like materiality present in some of the prints also drew me in to the work. In this way, Something to Remember touches on broader experiences, and the playful, slightly informal use of the school desk and chair was a useful way in to the work, and placing the visitor at ease in the gallery setting.

Elke Finkenauer and Alexis Neal Something to Remember Gus Fisher Gallery June 2018 tall woven work

Something to Remember  by Alexis Neal and Elke Finkenauer, 2018.

 


 

Bibliography

‘Alexis Neal’. Alexis Neal. Accessed 20 August 2018. http://www.alexisneal.com/.

Coxon, Ann. Louise Bourgeois. Tate, 2010.

‘Elke Finkenauer | Artist’. Elke Finkenauer | Artist. Accessed 20 August 2018. https://www.elkefinkenauer.com.

‘MoMA | Louise Bourgeois: A Flashback of Something That Never Existed’. Accessed 20 August 2018. https://www.moma.org/explore/inside_out/2013/02/18/louise-bourgeois-a-flashback-of-something-that-never-existed/.

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