EINSTEIN WAS A BUDDHIST // STEALING THE SENSES // GOVETT BREWSTER ART GALLERY // 2011
This installation drew on the Eastern practice of daily offering and mirrors cultural antiquity through recreation of the shrine. This act of offering is intended to focus on practice required to keep the altar replenished with flowers and other offerings which is considered a beneficial activity to focus one’s mind in the spiritual practices. The audience was invited to choose one of the chakra boats, intuitively feeling the boat, then journeying down the rice path on pilgrimage to the hanging deities baskets to make their offering. The works evolution through social engagement is paramount as the work lives through the colourful offerings and presence of the collective interaction. Stealing the Senses at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery exhibited work by international and Aotearoa New Zealand artists whose practices offer immersive sensory encounters. Collectively the artists propose new phenomenological experiences that highlight the socio-politics of the senses. Including several newly commissioned projects, these works will form a passage of immersive environments through the Govett-Brewster’s various architectural spaces.
Creating their own temporal and spatial encounters, artworks have the capacity to create spaces that at once mirror and expose the illusion of reality. Invoking a term of Michel Foucault’s, as art works incorporate difference within themselves and become spaces of otherness, they can be thought of as heterotopias of the senses. The works address thematic concerns and issues spanning from the psychology of incarceration to mythologies, from the sensual usefulness of domestic-scaled functional objects to integrated systems of artificial life.
Govett-Brewster Art Gallery Director and curator of the exhibition Rhana Devenport says, “What is shared in these works is a concern for activation or interaction with the artworks through human sensory perception. An exploration of the impact of immersive experience is offered primarily through perception, tactile or analogue encounter rather than virtual means, through stealing our senses for a dedicated time, in a dedicated space, artists corral our attention to multivalent ideas about the forces and sensibilities of contemporary living,” she says.