Review on Justin Spiers ‘The Sides of my Intent’ by Franky Strachan printed in the ODT 14/6/12

It is near impossible to stand unmoved by A Gallery’s current exhibition. Perth-based artist Justin Spiers is a photographer with the capacity to translate intellectual conceptions into visual metaphors with rare fluency.

The subject-matter of his collection is animals in captivity and the discussion is the space between the viewer and the viewed. The photographs are in both grey-scale and colour, and the compositions are succinct and textural: the panda is soft, the crocodile is scaly, and the concrete is disturbingly cold. Exotic animals and the enclosures they occupy are viewed up close through tarnished glass and desolate caging, drawing attention to the paltry surfaces that convert spirited creatures into vulnerable objects.

Spiers uses the camera to expose the screens we build to cushion our objectification and brutal oppression of the natural world. By way of accentuating the structures through which we unwittingly look, he underlines the frequently unnoticed artifice of photography and the staggeringly asymmetrical division of power which accompanies it. His poetic works may be delicate and sensitive in presentation but the sentiment exposed is more commanding than a tank in a field of dandelions. This artist’s visual vocabulary is an indication of his insight and A Gallery’s formatting neatly buttresses its expression.



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Conceived as a two-year project, ‘a gallery’ opened in February 2011 at 393 Princes Street, Dunedin and closed in September 2012. Strategically placed south of the center of town nestled between tattoo studios, sex shops and a needle exchange. What was integral in the selection of the gallery space was that it would be able to be viewed from the street through the street level floor to ceiling windows. This would allow the artists showing to be exposed not only to viewers visiting the gallery, but also those walking past, as a gallery was to represent artists that did not fit within the commercial gallery context or the so called experimental project space’s, this would be the best way to expose a particular group of artists selected by gallery curator/manager Jay Hutchinson, artists he respected and admired and felt were not being represented in the gallery scene at the time.

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