Art & creativity, Things to do  |  31 Jan 2022

What do an ant’s eye, orange peel, a hibiscus flower, rhubarb, bacteria and a space blob have in common?

Important update

The opening of this exhibition has been delayed because of supply chain issues. The exhibition will now open on Wednesday 23 February.

They all feature in the new Atlas of Anti-Taxonomies exhibition opening at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu on Saturday 12 February.

Atlas of Anti-Taxonomies features more than 100 images that New Zealand born artist Alicia Frankovich has gathered, sourced or created, grouped together in eight large double-sided light boxes displayed throughout the gallery space.

“The collated, overlapping and montaged images are wild and vibrant, a little bit like a Google image search or as though you’ve somehow entered the Internet,” says Curator Melanie Oliver.

“Their placement on the large screens feels momentary, as though this is just one iteration of many possible permutations, disrupting any typical or static taxonomical order.

“The title Atlas of Anti-Taxonomies itself implies that there are alternative ways to organise, describe and understand the world and its inhabitants,” says Ms Oliver.

Taxonomy is the practice and science of categorisation.

“Generally these categories and links are decided and maintained by patriarchal, Western, heteronormative, wealthy, humanist authorities,” says Ms Oliver.

“This exhibition says that doesn’t need to be the case.”

Frankovich’s Atlas of Anti-Taxonomies visually references the monumental but unfinished Mnemosyne Atlas (1924-29) from German art historian Aby Warburg (1866- 1929). Warburg amassed nearly 1000 photographs of artworks, cosmography, maps, people, places and things, arranged across 63 panels to show how themes, patterns or motifs repeat across different times and places.

Visitors to Frankovich’s exhibition will see a similar approach of allowing the gathered images to speak for themselves, through new and surprising combinations – though these things are not always what they seem. What looks like deep space, could be a microscopic image of water kefir.

Coupled with poetic captions, Atlas of Anti-Taxonomies indicates concerns around contemporary issues like climate change and viral spread.

Atlas of Taxonomies runs from 12 February 2022 to 22 May 2022 at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū.