Judy Darragh

SCI FI

26 October - 24 November 2012

Artist Judy Darragh has a reputation for wittily re-ordering existing vernacular objects and materials in her sculptural assemblages and installations, which deliberately challenge and disrupt art canons of taste, aesthetics and value.

In SCI FI, Darragh returns to two-dimensional images. This exhibition, originally presented by the University of Waikato, Calder and Lawson Gallery, Hamilton, follows on from the twelve works on paper entitled Back to the Future in Two Rooms 2011 exhibition, Stainless. With their background of freely applied screen-printed ink, that was then broken up with grids, lights, blurs and reflected surfaces, these previous drawings looked at the way we viewed the contemporary world, through screens, windows, monitors and televisions.

Darragh has spent the last year collecting glossy, digitally produced PVC billboard banners from the Albany IMAC centre – the raw material for this distinctive new body of work. Reconfiguring their surface, all overt references to the original movies, particularly elements like text and the faces of the actors is obliterated.

The artist superimposes garishly coloured spray paint, embracing the element of chance with dripping rivulets of paint oozing down the painting, together with repetitive abstract geometric patterns, cut from gaffer masking tape. Darragh describes this visual disturbance as a kind of analogue disruption or manual pixilation, which references technological glitches in the filmic image.

Darragh’s artistic interventions, juxtaposed against the original poster imagery such as circling planes and blazing laser ray-guns, mimic the fakery and futuristic fantasy of 1950’s B-grade science fiction films.

The raw masking, gluing, spraying and sticking give the works a visceral materiality that is often missing from the hyper-real, polished digitized production of the original billboard banners.

The use of cheap materials continues Darragh’s investigation of worth and the art world’s commercial imperatives, challenging pre-conceptions about the value and currency of art as a commodity.

The artist is particularly concerned about the criteria with which we judge success. We live in a society where everything has to do with success and failure ir rarely discussed. But what if we are wrong and what if our museums and lives are full of things that are deemed successful on incorrect merits? [1]

Darragh’s re-fashioning of meaning from these discarded promotional movie banners from our recent past, invite memories and encourage accumulated cultural associations, inciting a reassessment and understanding of the significant crossovers between painting and film.

One of New Zealand’s foremost artists, Judy Darragh’s works are held in various major collections including Te Papa Tongarea: Museum of New Zealand, Auckland City Art Gallery, and Govett Brewster Art Gallery in New Plymouth. In 2004 Te Papa Tongarewa featured a major retrospective and catalogue publication of her work.


[1] Bella Burgess; “Back to the Future”, Metro June 2011.