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

Gordon H. Brown Lecture 16: Christina Barton, 'Towards a History of the Contemporary'


Published 2018 by Te Pātaka Toi Adam Art Gallery at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington
48 pages
210mm x 170mm, softcover, with colour illustrations
Lecture by Christina Barton
Edited by Roger Blackley
ISSN: 977-1176-58800-5

In Towards a History of the Contemporary, Christina Barton uses the arrival and evolution of mass-communication technologies as a lens through which to trace a history of art in New Zealand. She takes her reader from Rita Angus’s prescient oil painting, Mother Watching TV, Napier (1969)—the depiction of an elderly woman lit by the flickering screen that would allow her to watch Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon—to Luke Willis Thompson’s 35mm film, autoportrait (2017), that reprieves its subject from the multiplicitous frames of social media to the singular experience of cinema. As a fresh approach to the contemporary, Barton’s is both a meditation unsettling the received version of our art history and a call for new, more inclusive considerations of how art inflects and reflects the world around us.

Christina Barton is director of Te Pātaka Toi Adam Art Gallery at Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington.