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installation detail

installation detail

installation view

Dane Mitchell, view of the studio at Gasworks, 2008

Dane Mitchell, view of the studio at Gasworks, 2008

The work of Auckland, New Zealand based artist Dane Mitchell adopts an aesthetic of methodology in order to uncover the institutional “customs and pathologies” operating within contemporary repositories of art and culture. His work has reconfigured received formats of exhibition making and cultural representation, according to processes borrowed from the fields of bacteriology, anthropology, geology and parapsychology, among others.

Dust Archive (2003) included photographs and analysis of bacteria grown from dust samples taken from dozens of museums and galleries, presented as a forensics lab subsumed under the representational framework of the art gallery: picture frames, vitrines and plinths. In Self Help (2006), Mitchell seeks to stem the decline in visitor numbers at a local art gallery by inundating the building with self-help mantras and positive affirmations from a commandeered public address system across the street.

As reflected in work such as Present Surface of Tell (2004), Mitchell’s practice demonstrates a sustained interest in mining the material culture which accrues around systems of valuation and belief like layers of sediment in geological time. Beyond a strict engagement with the self-reflexive critique of art world institutions, Mitchell’s work has recently proposed parallel encounters with mysticism and the spirit world. 2007’s Portal to the Spirit World takes the form of a faux-historic marker fashioned for the façade of the Auckland Art Gallery announcing that “for the duration of this exhibition a portal to the spirit world has been opened … with the assistance of an initiated witch and a deceased artist.” 2005’s Curse invited a Pagan witch to curse one corner of the exhibition hall (dimensions variable). 

At Gasworks, Mitchell explored the materialisation of otherwise invisible powers such as spells. By blowing a series of spells written by a New Zealand witch into glass, Mitchell created bubbles which contained this mighty forces of the speech.

Dane Mitchell received his BFA in sculpture from Auckland Institute of Technology and studied at Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA). He has had solo exhibitions at A Gentil Carioca (Rio de Janiero, Brazil), CalArts University (Los Angeles, CA) and Starkwhite (Auckland, NZ). In 2009 he will participate in the DAAD residency programme (Berlin) following his turn at Gasworks.

Dane Mitchell's residency at Gasworks is funded by Creative New Zealand from the Arts Council of New Zealand.


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