Auckland University

Local documentary critique opens

The documentary genre is getting a thorough going over by two of Auckland’s top universities this week, with an intergenerational photography exhibition running concurrently with a documentary conference.

The exhibition, Documenteries, opens today at AUT’s St Pauls gallery, featuring works by local icons like Ans Westra, David Cook and Ann Shelton alongside emerging talents such as Edith Amituanai, John Lake and Janet Lilo.

Running from December 7 to December 9 at the central city gallery on 39 Symonds Street, the exhibition spans a five-decade tradition of documentary photography in New Zealand with works selected to question the assumptions of the genre.

“As an exhibition Documentaries sets out to critique aspects of the dominant rhetoric associated with documentary practice itself, namely the ‘politics of lens based representation’,” says the organiser.

Westra’s Washday at the Pa is used as the starting point to discuss how documentary photography influences culture; featured works by the other artists ‘critique Westra whilst also resisting preconceived ideas surrounding the practice of documentary’.

The exhibition will run alongside the Expanding Documentary conference being jointly held by Auckland Unvirsity and AUT at the Ngā Wai o Horotiu Marae.

The eighth biennial conference of its kind, Expanding Documentary invites artists, academics, writers and activists to discuss questions of documentary representation in a New Zealand context.

Image: From Washday at the Pa, © Ans Westra