Wellington, December 2, 2017
Wellington based Artist Kerry Ann Lee will showcase her works at Whitespace Contemporary Art, 12 Crummer Road, Grey Lynn, Auckland at 5 pm on Tuesday, December 5, 2017.
Titled, ‘Foreign Correspondence,’ this would be her last solo-exhibition.
‘Fruits in the Backwater’
Kerry’s other exhibition of works called, ‘Fruits in the Backwater’ will be on show all days of the week until January 22, 2018 at the Pataka Art and Museum, located at the corner of Norrie and Parumoana in Porirua.
‘Fruits in the Backwater’ celebrates Aotearoa New Zealand as a remote archipelago – a place where diversity has a chance to grow roots deeper than it might in more densely populated centres.
Photographic cut-outs of tantalising images from glossy commercial advertising are suspended amongst lightboxes with locally-specific references. This installation has the look and feel of a glossy tourism brochure, but it’s fractured and verging on rupture as Lee takes stock of the cultural nuances that make us who we are.
Writer and TV Presenter Clive James writes
You could call it progress, but surely the imbalance remains: New Zealand is necessarily the Canada to Australia’s US, and Australia in its turn has been a long time learning to count the blessings of comparative isolation.
The trick is to take pride in cultivating the kind of vegetation that grows only in a backwater, but that the world desperately needs: the fruits of contemplation.
With a background in graphic arts, Kerry Ann Lee creates digitally collaged works that are both expressive and socially engaged, playfully investigating issues of identity and cultural hybridity.
Drawing upon recent first-hand research conducted by Lee in Europe, South America, Asia and Aotearoa New Zealand, this new body of work explores the perspective she gained through the process of distancing herself from home, and the realisations she came to around the cultural and social benefits of our nation’s relative geographic isolation.
Rather than returning home with a slew of international cultural references to infuse and fuel her art practice, Lee experienced a period of introspection while abroad, and has come back with a more objective perspective on ourselves as New Zealanders.
As source material for these works, Lee takes images from tourism and commercial advertising and places these externally-focused depictions of New Zealand and ‘elsewhere’ in conversation with more locally-specific social and cultural reference points.
In essence, the work is about perspective, decoding the globalised cultural symbols of this island nation portrayed in the media, to take stock of the cultural nuances and experiences that make New Zealand, New Zealand, and learning to value those differences.
Fruits in the Backwater is Kerry Ann Lee’s first solo exhibition at a major public art gallery in New Zealand.
About Kerry Ann Lee
Kerry Ann Lee is a Wellingtonian of third generation Chinese descent.
Key works to date have explored the tensions of making a home in the margins, alternative histories and the legacy of Cantonese Chinese settlement in Aotearoa New Zealand.
In 2007, Lee was the recipient of the Asia New Zealand Emerging Researcher Award, and in 2008 she created Home Made, a national touring exhibition and seminar series that celebrated an alternative cultural history of Chinese settlement in New Zealand.
In June 2009 Lee received a Fulbright Award to attend the Summer Residency Programme at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York City, and in September 2009, she was an artist-in-residence at ‘island6 Art Centre’ Shanghai through the WARE (Wellington Asia Residency Exchange) Programme, culminating in a solo exhibition, AM Park at AM Art Space Gallery, responding to Shanghai’s ‘future city’ aspirations during the 2010 World Expo.
Lee is also known for her work with self-published zines which have gained international exposure and readership over the past 15 years.
Kerry Ann Lee has worked as a senior lecturer and researcher at Otago Polytechnic School of Design in Dunedin and currently lives in Wellington. Lee is represented by Bartley + Company Art in Wellington and Whitespace Contemporary Art in Auckland.
Reuben Friend, Director, Pataka Art + Museum writes:
Fruits in the Backwater is a new series of artworks by Kerry Ann Lee that dissects and celebrates relationships – relationships between objects and people, people and politics, politics and culture. Of course, relationships are also dependent on perspective, and this series of works explores these dynamics in relation to globalisation and Aotearoa New Zealand cultural politics.
As source material for these works, Lee takes images from the media and commercial advertising and locates these objects in relation to locally specific reference points. Many of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century objects depicted in these works could be found almost anywhere in the world, but locating these images within the context of Aotearoa New Zealand Lee is able to create coded messages about nationhood and globalisation, while also allowing the viewer to interpret this graphic lexicon through their own subjective lens.
Through this approach Lee is able to address difficult cultural and political subject matter. In undertaking this endeavour, she draws on relationships with friends and artists across Aotearoa New Zealand and the world, responding to their influences and insights to show just how much our nation’s unique bicultural foundations have shaped our multicultural understanding of the world, and our position within it.
The essays, poems and insights contributed to this publication by Lee’s friends and collaborators demonstrate the range of worldviews and insights that inform her sense of belonging.
Their words speak of the nuances that make New Zealand New Zealand, and of the value of difference. These voices inform the images in the exhibition and through this symbiosis Lee is able to plot a path through the landscape of her own life and times.