Sumer is pleased to present The Weight of the Door, an exhibition of recent sculptural works (all 2020) by Tāmaki Makaurau-based artist Natalie Guy. This is the first exhibition of the artist’s work at the gallery.
Using the bronze door handle from Notre-Dame du Haut as its source—Le Corbusier’s chapel in Ronchamp, France—The Weight of the Door presents a series of objects that the artist describes as translations. This fragment of the chapel structure, isolated, removed its vitrine surround. The bronze form appears here as a series of distortions. Horizontal and vertical iterations of varying lengths and proportions that differ from the source. A series of bronzes presented not on plinths but directly on the gallery’s concrete floor, dispersed. It is not clear if these are to be seen as one or as many.
The ‘weight’ that Guy refers to in the titling of the work pertains not solely to the physical weight of the chapel door, which, having been rendered in concrete, would certainly be considerable—purportedly to represent the stone rolled away from the front of Jesus’ tomb, which Mary Magdalene found empty (John 20:1-2). No, its meaning is more inclusive, speaking not only to the religiously symbolic but also to legacy and the historiographic; as well as the sculpture’s literal weight, as an object or thing, or its figurative weight, as a conceptual or formal proposition.
Undoubtly both the door and the handle possess a heft of spiritual significance. It is a door that is only opened twice a year (for pilgrimages celebrating the Assumption of Mary, on August 15, and the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, on September 8). Fiona Samuel, an academic in architectural design, suggests the bronze handle is an abstracted form of Mary’s body. She states, “as our hand encloses her waist we open the door to knowledge.” Passing through the door we enter another reality.
A woman artist living and working in Aotearoa, Guy’s research-based practice considers iconic examples of 20th century modernism, from across the fields of art, architecture and design. Drawing upon examples from both high art and mass culture, and located across Western Europe, North America, Asia and the Pacific. Applying a localised lens, she meditates on these things of modernism, considering their value, their impact, and their legitimacy. She thinks about how they are situated within contemporary everyday, and also how they appear within discourses surrounding contemporary art. Specifically, she wishes to interrogate our understanding of tradition, influence and concepts of appropriation, from both within and across cultural boundaries; considers both their positive and negative legacies. Following in the footsteps of the feminist literary movement of the 1970’s, écriture feminine, which aimed to re-capture text as female self-expression, she looks to rewrite modernist source anew.
Natalie Guy (Ngāpuhi, Ngāruahine) lives and works in Auckland, Aotearoa. Her work has been exhibited widely throughout Aotearoa in public and private galleries and exhibitions, including Tauranga Art Gallery, Te Tuhi Auckland, Scape Public Art Christchurch, and Sculpture on the Gulf Waiheke. In 2022 she completed a Doctorate in Fine Arts at Elam School of Fine Arts, the University of Auckland. She was the recipient of the inaugural Asia NZ Foundation 2017 Residency to Varanasi India and in 2019 was resident at Sculpture Space, Utica, New York. In 2014 she won the Woollahra Small Sculpture Award and in the same year won a Merit Award in The National Contemporary Award, New Zealand. Her work is held in various Public Collections across New Zealand and Australia.