Kate Woods
The Bonfire Almanac

6 June - 12 July 2014

Wellington-based artist Kate Woods presents her work for the first time at Two Rooms as part of the 2014 Auckland Festival of Photography.

Woods collects found scenic photographs and landscape paintings. Imaginary non-sites, places you will never physically arrive in yet seem strangely familiar: a replicated world indistinguishable from the real world. Abstract geometric cardboard forms, crafted by the artist, placed on the “original” found object, float across the picture plane. The collage is then re- photographed. Along with the appropriated images, she works with cardboard assemblages and painting within her photographs to re-construct and re contextualise cultural and art historical events.

In earlier work Woods references documentary photography from 60’s and 70’s American Land Art, a time when artists altered the landscape physically, or erected temporary constructions that changed the ambience of the area. Such works were documented, and often survive now only in photographs.

In 2012 Woods was the recipient of an Asia New Zealand Foundation residency at Three Shadows Photography Art Centre in Beijing. While there she researched how the beginnings of contemporary art practice evolved in China, and became fascinated by the Xiamen Dada Group. They were an integral part of the avant-garde 85’ Wave Movement, which transformed the Chinese art scene in the mid 1980s. The Group’s Eastern and Western influences included Dada, the I Ching, Joseph Beuys, Chan Buddhism, Robert Rauschenberg, Duchamp and Taoism.

One of the Group’s events took place in 1986 after a formal exhibition at the government run New Art Museum in Xiamen at a time when there was still government control over what could be shown in public spaces in China. On closure of the exhibition the Group burned all of their conventional artwork outside the gallery in an unauthorised performance. Not long after the first performance, the group were expected to exhibit at another museum, but at the last minute replaced the destroyed art works with building materials from nearby construction sites. Photography was intrinsically involved as one of the main records of the temporary events they staged.

Woods’ photographs created during the residency reference the fleeting happenings of the Xiamen Dada Group. She was interested in re-siting the events and their residue in environments sourced from contemporary Beijing such as Chinese building sites and billboard hoardings. Occasional images in this series use found photography as a site. A New Zealand hand-coloured farm scene becomes a backdrop for an imagined re-siting of the same events, dislocated from their original setting, occurring in a different time and place.

Kate Woods was born in Auckland in 1981. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Elam School of Fine Arts, Auckland University (2002). She has exhibited in artist-run spaces, dealer and public galleries including XYZ Collective, Tokyo and City Gallery Wellington.