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Blair French

Curator of SCAPE 6 & 7 | SCAPE Public Art | Christchurch Biennial

Statement from Curator Blair French

Blair French

SCAPE 7 - 27 September to 9 November 2013 offers Christchurch residents and visitors alike a newly rich and multi-layered experience of a city space in transition. SCAPE Public Art acknowledges the trauma associated with the city’s recent past; draws on the strength of community determination to rebuild a civic home; makes creative, material propositions regarding the future form of the city and the ways in which it might be inhabited; but most of all presents works that create moments of beauty and hope.

SCAPE 7 draws on three guiding principles that speak both to and beyond the immediate experience of the city: that of mobility; of embracing, or at least anticipating the unexpected; and looking forward, of possibility. Together they encompass ways of thinking across the recent past, the present and the future of life in Christchurch.

An emphasis upon mobility reflects something of the experience of Christchurch residents being forced to move places of residence and work, often relatively frequently, as well as having to negotiate changing patterns of movement through the changing city. For many the earthquakes have resulted in an unusually nomadic experience of urban life. Christchurch is comprised of communities who are dealing with uncertainty; who have become out of necessity mobile, adaptable, flexible, even nomadic at times; and who live in and work out of often temporary, modular, even transportable structures.

Christchurch and the lives of its residents have dramatically changed in previously unexpected ways. Anticipating and/or coping with the unexpected has become a defining condition of the city, but the unexpected can also be a realm of excitement, of positive surprise, of the opening up of new worlds, of new opportunity and new possibility. 

If the unexpected makes overt reference to the recent past of the city – the dramatic, unexpected events – then possibility embraces a looking forward in perhaps new ways to new futures. The principles of the unexpected and of possibility also point to the potential of art projects to surprise and delight, to shift the parameters of immediate experience and ways of looking at the world. There’s a degree of magic almost here, or the fantastical, the imaginative, even the uncanny, that particular works in SCAPE 7 embrace.

- Blair French