Selected Works by Roberta Thornley at Melanie Roger Gallery, Auckland
This exhibition marks the first time Waikato-based photographer Roberta Thornley has shown at Melanie Roger Gallery. It features images made between 2011 and 2022, some new and others from her archives. The works illustrate her ongoing fascination with the interplay between photography and the effects of weather, light, colour and time on her chosen subjects, as well as her interest in themes of ritual and ceremony.
The nine framed photographs include portraits, landscapes and everyday objects – all with a dreamlike quality. The sense of tension Thornley manages to capture will have you considering ordinary moments in a new light – whether through the iridescent sunset hues on a sun-shower-splashed diesel can, or a teenage girl frozen in midair above a trampoline, lit golden by the late afternoon sun. A wooden fence is strangely transformed by a ray of sunlight after rain, while a dimly lit, deflated pink balloon hangs by a string of dental floss – somehow perfect, though partially destroyed. On until October 20. 444 Karangahape Road, Newton, Auckland.
Mirror City II by Harry Culy at Jhana Millers Gallery, Wellington
Te Whanganui-a-Tara-based photographer Harry Culy spent a period overseas in his late teens and twenties, only recently returning to the capital (his hometown). In this exhibition of photographs, he attempts to refamiliarise himself with his city. It's the second and final part of his series Mirror City, framing the urban environment through a series of landscapes, portraits and street scenes.
Making your way through the gallery, you’ll see a set of 16 black-and-white silver-gelatine-printed photographs in a range of sizes, all taken between 2018 and 2022 with a 4x5-inch large-format camera. Through Culy’s lens, the city looks mysterious and almost abandoned – like in a portrait of a young man called Tommie, who’s gazing at the camera with an empty street behind him, or the photograph of a much-frequented laundromat complete with dry-cleaning racks, baskets and a worn mural of a window opening onto an idyllic landscape.
Culy recently published a photo book, also titled Mirror City, under his photo book company Bad News Books, and it’s displayed in the gallery. Flick through to see more of Culy’s visual explorations and musings. On until October 21. Level 1, 85 Victoria Street, Wellington.
There is Nowhere to Go, There is Nothing to Do by Greta Anderson at Te Uru Waitākere Contemporary Gallery, Auckland
Over her 25-year career, Auckland-based photographer Greta Anderson has aimed to capture how everyday objects assume a new-found significance through memories and experiences – inspired partially by her time living in a commune as a child in West Auckland. The exhibition is a retrospective of her work from between 1997 and 2022 – intended to coincide with the launch of her new book of the same title, designed by exhibition curator New Public and published by Rim Books.
The ground-floor installation is sparse – but think of it as allowing room for contemplation. A pale lilac structure on the floor doubles as a bookstand to display the artist's new book, which features lots of additional images. On the right side of the space, 11 medium-scale photographs are positioned at eye level in a linear sequence with no gaps in between. They emulate a display shelf of possessions and oddities. Multiple pairings are created between images; an old pink house and a white horse in mid-stride, an atmospheric grey cloud and a beige plastic comb, leaving you to piece together what Anderson’s narratives might be. Don’t miss a digital video compilation of the artist’s previously self-published photo books in the back-right corner of the gallery.
The official book launch is at 2pm on Saturday November 18. There will be live music by Hermione Johnson and a conversation between the photographer, New Public founder Amanda Wright and writer Hanna Scott. On until December 3. 420 Titirangi Road, Auckland.
Diane Arbus: A Box of Ten Photographs at City Gallery Wellington Te Whare Toi, Wellington
American photographer Diane Arbus (1923–1971) changed the way we understand photography as an art form. She is widely known for her unflinching black-and-white portraits of society outliers. In 1969, Arbus selected 10 images from her vast body of work to be included in 50 box sets of photographs for collectors to buy. By the time she passed away in 1971, she had only sold four sets – only eight were ever made.
On loan from the esteemed High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia, A Box of Ten Photographs is an exhibition featuring 10 gelatine-silver prints, produced with direction from the artist’s estate. This selection includes a decorated Christmas tree in an empty living room in Levittown, Long Island (1963); an elderly couple crowned as king and queen at a senior citizens’ dance in New York City (1970); a young family of three sunbathing on their lawn in Westchester, New York (1968) and more. Next to each iconic photograph is an accompanying caption written in Arbus’s handwriting. There is also a display case in the centre of the space with an original copy of May 1971’s Artforum, which featured her images on the cover – the first time photography was ever presented in the magazine.
Arbus is known to draw a crowd in Aotearoa. Between 1978 and 1979, an exhibition of her work attracted an extraordinary number of visitors and toured around the country as the first solo exhibition of an international contemporary photographer in New Zealand. Don’t miss the rare opportunity to view this impactful and timeless collection of photographs by an internationally celebrated photographer. On until January 14. Te Ngākau Civic Square, Wellington.
Anita Tótha is an art consultant working between New York and Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland.