Thursday, 3 January 2013

Freak Show at the Courthouse

Quint Baker's new exhibition, Antagonist Freak Show, is unlike anything Otautau has ever seen. It is full of disruptive, edgy pieces like the mermaid pictured left. Unfamiliar, uneasy figures, video, graphics and an eery soundscape make for an experience that gnaws at and incites the psyche. 
Visitors and Quint (right) discussing a piece.
These pieces are not designed to please the eye and its traditional sense of beauty but to pose uncomfortable questions and move us to the edge of ourselves. Skin may be raw, eyes bulging, bodies made of disparate and incongruent materials. One piece that is particularly disturbing speaks directly about child abuse in NZ (not pictured).

Psychic Cat'z Golden Fleece
All art causes us to ask questions - why is the Mona Lisa smiling? What is Rodin's The Thinker thinking about? With every piece of art, traditional or nontraditional, there is no right or wrong answer. The artist can offer their interpretation which can be a good place to start from, but the rest is up to the observer - to find meaning and notice why it pleases or why it disturbs.

Quint's show antagonises the mind with images that one may soon not forget. The experience challenged me to accept rather than turn away and to see what I could relate to. And though there are no labels by each piece, there is a fair amount of local content represented if you look closely. I, unfortunately, didn't recognise it, but one photo shows the burnt down Wairio Church.

The show will appeal to audiences open to the unconventional and abstract, and those with an appreciation of the boundlessness of the creative process. Teenagers can probably relate to it easily.
The Antagonist Freak Show is open all day from 8am to 6pm at the Courthouse until 10 January.

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