Tahi Moore “Incomprehensible public fictions: Writer fights politician in car park” at Hopkinson Mossman, Auckland
“I keep imagining that my feelings have some kind of power in the world. But it’s my own powerlessness that I end up confronting. You see an absence. The image has been stripped of all its power and there’s nothing left there to speak about what it is to be human. But it still looks like the world we live in. It’s just a vanitas, like any other cartoon of Hamlet holding up a skull. Hamlet can be read as satire all the way through. The Norwegians have already invaded. King Claudius even invites them, imagining they’ll just carry on past to another country. Hamlet is inspired by their absurd lie about going to fight over some wasteland. Horatio might be the only one who can still act like a human. All he can do is bear witness and stand in for us. He watches these people reduced to clowns. Fortinbras thinks he’s invaded but there’s no one there. This is a wasteland as well. The vanitas must have already been a cliche in Shakespeare’s time. ‘And stink so…’ (Throws the clown’s skull back into the grave.)
Aesthetic objects can only operate as fiction. Why? Because all gestures are necessarily generative. That’s a condition of the way this thing functions. Why pay attention? Because the act of being human is generative. Would you prefer the open question or paint by numbers?”
–Tahi Moore, excerpts from exhibition essay, 2018
Tahi Moore’s work can be considered as an ongoing existential enquiry into the production and destruction of meaning. His primary material is language, and his highly idiosyncratic textual pathways make reference to philosophers, scientists, artists, and filmmakers, as well as moments in popular culture that articulate (purposefully or accidentally) his core concerns; stories of failures, fakes, cases of mistaken identity, eccentric intertextuality, instances where meaning is misunderstood, misconstrued, or mistranslated.
Moore’s new exhibition comprises videos and a series of new text paintings. There are two subtitle video works – She remembers presents existential observations which explore the limits of knowledge and the conditions of memory; while Hemingways Hamlet appears to be a series of excerpts and stage notes from a perverse Shakespearean play, starring Hemingway. As we often find in Moore’s video works, both have a Beckett-esque flow where strange thoughts appear to loop in endless circles.
The text pieces dispersed throughout the gallery – drawn or painted directly onto store-bought canvasses, or hand written on note paper – act as fragments of scripts or dialogue, but the desire to find a cohesive narrative is always unfulfilled. Perhaps more so than ever before, Incomprehensible public fictions: “Writer fights politician in car park” reflects on the relentless failure of communication, how the act of giving form to content (particularly in contemporary art) is always necessarily a process of emptying out. According to Moore, “In a painting, all content becomes form. It can’t be any kind of documentary. A piece of information will become a gesture. That’s just an effect of this process.”
at Hopkinson Mossman, Auckland
until 28 July 2018