Trish Clark Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition of a new body of work by Stella Brennan. With a practice that spans the handmade, new media, curation, installation, social projects and urban design, Stella Brennan’s work deals above all with navigating the space and time between human subjects. Brennan prises open history, its losses and possibilities, interrogating colonialism, industrialisation and computerisation. Chief Curator at Wellington’s City Gallery, Robert Leonard, has stated “Brennan…explores the history and currency of modernity, the dream of human perfectibility and emancipation premised on rationality, technology, progress. She researches modernity’s grand schemes and utopian ideologies, and their fate in the brave new world of the present.”
In Brennan’s new body of work she interrogates permanence, both of objects and the energies arising from nuclear radiation, and how the time scales involved must invoke fresh human thinking. Two new video works accompany intricate textile works, marrying domestic ordinariness with complex social and scientific considerations.
While her concerns remain consistent, Brennan’s avenues of expression are diverse. Relishing material and technical challenges, over the last two decades her installations have included video projections, soundscapes, sculptural constructions, light works as well as found objects. In her Walters Prize-nominated work Wet Social Sculpture, a fully functioning spa pool was installed in an art gallery and the audience invited in.
Her interest in the physicality of language and a conception of narrative as a technology has led to works ranging from a room formed of hanging flags with text burnt through their folded layers (Black Flags, 2016) to a rough approximation of pscychotropic architecture, using audio of a JG Ballard story fed through sound visualisation software (Tomorrow Never Knows, 2004).
Her video often entwines text, image and sound. Beginning with work about the Erebus Disaster (White Wall / Black Hole, 2005) and ranging from explorations of the legacy of World War Two (South Pacific, 2007) to the implications of atomic accidents (Object Permanence, 2018) these videos combine narratives based on extensive research with haunting and allusive soundtracks and ambiguous imagery.
Brennan has exhibited across Australia, Asia, North America, Europe and New Zealand and has been awarded Residencies including at Apex Arts in New York City, and Artspace in Sydney. Having graduated MFA from the University of Auckland in 1999, Brennan co- founded Aotearoa Digital Arts and was co-editor of the Aotearoa Digital Arts Reader, the first comprehensive text on digital arts practice in New Zealand. Brennan maintains a concurrent practice as a writer, as essayist for artists including Ann Veronica Janssens and Patricia Piccinini, as well as critic for magazines including Art Asia Pacific, the New Zealand Listener and Art New Zealand. She has also been an advisory editor for Eyeline Magazine, Australia.
Brennan curated the exhibitions Nostalgia for the Future (Artspace, Auckland, 1999), Dirty Pixels (Artspace, Adam Art Gallery, Dunedin Public Art Gallery and Waikato Museum of Art and History, 2002-3), and co-curated Cloudland: Digital Art from Aotearoa New Zealand (The Substation, Singapore, 2008).