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Billy Apple in New York

A new Adam Art Gallery exhibition documents activities undertaken by artist Billy Apple in New York

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Opening 28 March, a new Adam Art Gallery exhibition documents activities undertaken by artist Billy Apple in New York between 1969 and 1973, including works never before seen in New Zealand.

Opening 28 March, a new Adam Art Gallery exhibition documents activities undertaken by artist Billy Apple in New York between 1969 and 1973, including works never before seen in New Zealand.

The exhibition focuses on a short but intense period in the artist's career, when he operated a small not-for-profit gallery at 161 West 23rd Street. Over the course of four years he created a venue for artists to produce works that tested and re-defined the nature of sculpture, at a time when the art scene in New York was beginning to be galvanised by such radical gestures.

Curator Christina Barton says the exhibition documents an important period in Apple’s career and recognises the vital contribution he made to the history of conceptual art in New York.

“It also addresses the relation between ‘live’ action and documentation, setting out to offer various solutions to the problem of how to re-present ephemeral, site-specific work at the same time as exploring how this was already a concern of the artist at the time of his work’s production,” says Christina.

Significant works on show will include a re-staging of an iconic window cleaning action originally undertaken with the assistance of Geoff Hendricks at 112 Greene St in 1971, the 1968 film Gaseous discharge phenomena with soundtrack by artist Nam June Paik, and a large-scale installation of arranged coloured neon tubes reconstructed to address the remarkable architecture of the Adam Art Gallery.

These works will be shown alongside other reconstructions, artefacts, photo-documentation and archival material relating to the Apple space and its programmes.

The exhibition opening is timed to coincide with a major international symposium organised in conjunction with One Day Sculpture, a New Zealand-wide series of temporary public art works, conceived by British curator Claire Doherty for the Litmus Initiative at Massey University.

It also provides the context for Apple’s contribution to the One Day Sculpture series. The Adam Art Gallery has commissioned Apple to undertake a new work over one 24-hour period on Saturday 28 March 2009. This will translate his 70s’ activities to a new time and place, enabling Apple’s conceptual practice to confront an iconic work of public sculpture: Henry Moore’s Bronze Form (1985-6) which is located on Salamanca Lawn in Wellington’s Botanic Gardens.

Billy Apple studied graphic design in London and made a contribution to early pop art in Britain before leaving for New York in 1964. He lived in New York between 1964 and 1990 before returning to New Zealand where he continues to work and exhibit internationally. He has consistently devoted himself to testing the boundaries between art and life, exploring the social, economic and architectural contexts within which art is made and circulates.

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Adam Art Gallery

26 Mar 2009

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