Sumer is pleased to present Dredge, a new exhibition by Tāmaki Makaurau-based artist Hikalu Clarke. The show comprising of a series of new textile works, that the artist has worked upon over the past two years. This is the artist's first exhibition at the gallery.
Fashioned from accumulated cast-offs, remnants, things lying around the studio, the artist began making these works while the country was under hard lockdown. Their fabrication, which involved the dismembering of some past works, elicited in Clarke a certain sense of unease-this act of possible self-sabotage through destroying one's own work. It was also unease borne of uncertainty. Setting out without any clear rationale for their making, he adopted a generative and intuitive process of thinking-through-doing. This was a process altogether foreign to him, a break from his previous way of working. Inchoate, formless in image and meaning, yet not without intent and purpose, their making was an action more akin physical exercise or meditation, rather than something fabricated to a set design. It would only be later that their significance and meaning would become apparent.
The appearance of these works is at once topographic and bodily. Libidinally charged, they read as abstractions of the modern city, not only its architecture and infrastructure but also its inhabitants. They bring together a range of materials, both new and old; materials that one associates with industry, leisure and tradition. They speak to technology and culture, to the complex and often paradoxical relationships that coalesce between people, objects, and their environment. Speaking of power, wealth, status, anxiety and desire. Embodying both spectacle and debasement.
Clarke's interdisciplinary practice encompasses installation, sound, performance, painting, and new media. Negotiating aesthetics and mechanisms of built and virtual environments within advanced capitalist societies, he considers those systems and structures which inform ones lived experience within the modern city. Previous works of the artist have focused upon the cultural shift in urban design and architecture: their adoption of 'unfriendly' paranoiac spatial design philosophies; as well the all-important semantic change seeing the term 'citizen' replaced by 'consumer'. His work often co-opting hostile aesthetic and spatial strategies, so to active an audiences' own sense of agency. More broadly, Clarke's work interrogates our understanding of time, place, and the self within contemporary culture.
Extended exhibition text:
by Dan du Bern