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February 26, 2007 | by  | in Visual Arts |
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Photospace Exhibition

Whaingaroa by Jodi Ruth Keet

Showing from February 16 to March 12

Photospace is one gallery that doesn’t get the publicity that it deserves. With regular exhibitions that roll around every three weeks it consistently features photographs that deliver high emotional impact.

Jodi Ruth Keet from Raglan has her third Photospace exhibition in as many years with Whaingaroa, a black and white project about the area she grew up in. Intensely personal, her photographs are gritty and raw, with beauty and innocence jumping out from the frames.

The unique culture of small town Aotearoa has inspired Keet to explore the people and symbols of our culture and the land that defines us. Keet has tried to capture any changes to the surrounding landscape that communicate symbols of the old and new.

Her subjects are the local people of the Whaingaroa area in natural situations, such as swimming or just standing outside of their homes. This is a common theme for a lot of photographic journalism and exhibitions, but it becomes evident that Keet has avoided common cliches because the subjects look so natural, relaxed and in-touch with their surroundings. As soon as you view the images you immediately grasp the emotion of the situation. You are led at first to wonder how poor they are, as they appear to be dressed rather roughly. Without trying to sound too pretentious, the exhibition reminded me of photos of American Indians, another group with strong spiritual connections to the land. ‘Flying Boy’, an action shot of a boy diving into the sea, and the mysterious ‘Skeleton Tree in the Mist’ are photographs that communicate a real sense of kiwi identity. After absorbing the works you also get a good feel for the Whaingaroa area. This work is as much a study of quintessential New Zealand as it is a study of the land and people of a specific area.

As Keet herself explains, “while change is inevitable, looking at who we are today and where we have come from is an important part of understanding our culture. My project reflects this, and is a conceptual and personal artistic exploration of a town that is slowly changing along with the rest of our country. This work glimpses symbols of both the old and the new, and it reflects our relation, our interaction and our similarity to our surroundings.”

Photo exhibits can often be really pretentious. Alternatively, because Keet chose her home area and it’s residents as the focus of this work, she has produced a powerful and personal exhibit.

This exhibition will be the first in the reconfigured gallery. Photospace owner James Gilberd will be presenting more tightly-focused bodies of photographic artwork in two smaller rooms. This and future selections will represent a more personal approach to curation, a decisive move away from the gallery functioning as a public space, as has been it’s direction over the past eight years.

For further information contact Photospace gallery:
1st floor, 37 Courtenay Place, Wellington
Hours: 10am-4.30pm Mon-Fri, 11am-3pm Saturdays

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