Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington
Gate 3, Kelburn Parade
Wellington 6140
New Zealand

BAD VISUAL SYSTEMS: Ruth Buchanan, Judith Hopf, Marianne Wex


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Published 2017 by Te Pātaka Toi Adam Art Gallery at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington 
51 pages
297 x 210 mm, softcover, with colour illustrations
Edited by Christina Barton with contributions from Ruth Buchanan, Judith Hopf, Mike Sperlinger and Christina Barton
Design by HIT
Printed by Spree Druck, Berlin/Germany
ISBN: 978-1-877309-38-0

BAD VISUAL SYSTEMS was a major exhibition by Berlin-based, New Zealand-born artist Ruth Buchanan. It occupied the entire Adam Art Gallery and also featured works by two fellow artists, Judith Hopf and Marianne Wex both of whom live in Germany. The title of the exhibition draws on the idea first articulated by feminist theorist, Donna Haraway that “self-identity is a bad visual system”. Buchanan is drawn to this notion as it succinctly articulates her sense that there are powerful forces vested in architecture, art, language, society and the manifold organisational and structural systems that take place within them, that affect how the human subject behaves and interferes with how they know themselves. She has self-consciously chosen to work with two other women artists of different generations, to position her thinking within a feminist history and discourse.

For this exhibition Buchanan blurred the roles of artist, curator, and designer, playing all three to create a fully immersive installation with objects, materials, display systems, screens, images, and words. These occupied the space ambivalently, playing off the architecture and doubling as the familiar furniture of exhibition making. The show engaged the viewer actively with built-in response mechanisms including an audience-activated soundtrack that serves as audio-guide; videos that spring to life with human contact, and room dividers that rearrange familiar spaces and disrupt existing way-finding.

This was published with support from Creative New Zealand Toi Aotearoa, Jan Warburton Trust, and Victoria University of Wellington.

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