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City Gallery: seeing the universe in a grain of sand

News from City Gallery Wellington


Zac Langdon-Pole Pollinations 2020 | Courtesy the artist and Michael Lett

A major new City Gallery Wellington show will introduce the puzzling work of Berlin-based expat Zac Langdon-Pole to New Zealand audiences. Opening on Saturday, Containing Multitudes prompts audiences to rethink their relationship to nature, colonial history, and more. 

Internationally prominent in recent years, Langdon-Pole has been winning awards in Europe, including the seventh BMW Art Journey in 2018, which enabled him to take a round-the-world research trip. However, with the pandemic, the frequent flyer found himself stranded in New Zealand, unable to return to Germany. He has taken the opportunity to develop this show—his largest yet—for City Gallery, which features mostly new work. 

‘Every cloud has a silver lining’, says City Gallery Director Elizabeth Caldwell. ‘Travel restrictions actually made this possible.’ The largest work in the show is a 140m² floor of recycled native timber, previously riddled with borer beetles, it has been sealed and gilded with gold leaf – offering viewers the chance to appreciate and interpret the work while walking over it. 

‘There’s never one truth about ourselvesor a landscape’, says Langdon-Pole. ‘Containing Multitudes is underpinned by questions of what belongs where and how we order the world.’

Langdon-Pole’s gleaming floor is accompanied by diverse works including a 60,000,000-year-old tortoise-shell fossil resting on a vacuum cleaner, a preserved bird of paradise in an antique safe, meteorite fragments stuck in octopus shells, old-master collaged jigsaw puzzles, and sand photograms that look like deep space. ‘Langdon-Pole is a rising star but hasn’t been seen much in his homeland. Come and see what all the fuss has been about,’ says curator Robert Leonard.

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