5 August - 3 September 2022
5 August - 3 September 2022
B i d s
Coastal Signs is pleased to present Misere, a solo exhibition by Ammon Ngakuru.
Ngakuru’s paintings and sculptures in Misere are comprised of, or feature, a cast of marginalia; balloons, a charm bracelet, roman sandals, a series of six Toyota Prius’, and a small hand-painted model of a picnic table sitting on an Apartmento magazine.
The show is full of symbolism and storytelling, but does not offer the easily definable narrative hooks one might expect from a young Māori artist. Ngakuru works may resemble, in some instances, identity politics art of the 90s, but he uses tactics of evasion to confound the viewer’s tendency (or desire) to interpret the work via the artist’s biography. As Simon Gennard says of Ngakuru’s work in their forthcoming artist book: “Together, they build less towards a diaristic record than a series of questions about what gets sedimented upon the everyday: about how histories, climatic conditions, systems of naming and structures of power might inform how one looks, and what one sees.”
Evasion manifests formally in Ngakuru’s indeterminate style. In his paintings, loose, simply rendered forms hover in passages of soft, muted colour, emerging from or disappearing into semi-transparent glazes. A life-size sculpture of a curled sleeping whippet (with a scribbly pink leg) is crudely carved in particle board. For some the form is an immediate reference to artist Pierre Huyghe’s infamous work (a live dog that prowled the halls of dOCUMENTA 13), to others it is simply a badly made, half-finished sculpture of a skinny dog.
Misere extends the artist’s ongoing enquiry into the production of meaning and attribution of value, to trouble the grasp of the market. For the exhibition Ngakuru proposes an alternative commercial mode: there will be no set prices for the works - instead the audience is invited to bid, and each bid will be displayed in the exhibition itself.
The title, Misere, is a derivation of misère, the French word for misery. In the card game 500, ‘misère’ is what a player bets if they think they can lose every trick. ‘Open-hand misère’ is one of the hardest bids to win, as the player must lose every trick with their cards on the table.
Ngakuru borrows the conceit of misère to lay bare the fraught mechanics of exchange and exhibition value, and to ask what it means to play from a place of impoverishment. Ngakuru’s is not a withdrawal from the market or the exhibition system, rather it marks a refusal to cooperate, an attempt to set one’s own terms of engagement in which questions of success or failure are messy and counter- intuitive.
Ammon Ngakuru (b. 1993) lives in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. He holds a BVA from Auckland University of Technology and a MFA from Elam School of Fine Arts. Recent exhibitions include: Pumice, Coastal Signs, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland (2021); Cutouts, Enjoy, Pōneke Wellington (2020); Uncomfortable Silence, Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū, Ōtautahi Christchurch (2020); Many Happy Returns, Hopkinson Mossman, Tāmaki Makaurau, (2018); The Tomorrow People, Adam Art Gallery Te Pātaka Toi, Pōneke Wellington (2017); A Shelter for Amnesic Relatives, Blue Oyster Art Project Space, Ōtepoti Dunedin (2017); Thoughts on Secrecy (with Ruth Ige), RM, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland (2017).
For more information, please contact the gallery.