The Brisbane Gallery of Modern Art in Queensland Australia holds the largest collection of contemporary New Zealand art outside of this country, including works acquired since the 1990’s through the Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art. Unnerved: The New Zealand Project was the second country-specific exhibition that the Queensland Art Gallery has curated from its collection, and this publication is the 192-page record of that exhibition.
Opened by Tim Finn in May 2010, the exhibition featured more than 120 contemporary New Zealand works by 34 artists, dating from the late 1960s to the present. Queensland Art Gallery Director Tony Ellwood described the exhibition as exploring a ‘rich, dark vein that recurs in New Zealand contemporary art and film … a sense of psychological or physical unease … that artists achieve in different ways, using scale, mystery, narrative, humour or parody.’
There’s a wide range of media covered including paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures, installations, film and video art. The 200 illustrations in the book represents all the artists involved but with a focus on moving-image pieces and photography. Short essays by the Queensland Art Galleries curatorial staff explore each artist’s work with two expert lead essays by Maud Page, Senior Curator of Pacific Art at the Queensland Gallery, and Professor Wystan Curnow of the University of Auckland.
The exhibition and cinema program of Unnerved: The New Zealand Project was held at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) from May until July 2010 and travelled to the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne later that year. A diverse record of the eerie underside of New Zealand and the creative and playful ways these are explored in the visual arts.
– Toby Buck