• Ruth Buchanan

Launching the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery 50 year anniversary is a project developed by New Zealand artist Ruth Buchanan. Spanning the entire contemporary art museum, each of its galleries is dedicated to a 10-year span.

The exhibition excavates the Govett-Brewster Collection and includes close to 300 works from 190 artists including Jim Allen, Flora Scales, Ralph Hotere, Tom Kreisler, Colin McCahon, Gretchen Albrecht, Christine Hellyar, Fiona Clark, Stanley Palmer, Darcy Lange, Len Lye, Maree Horner, Mary Louise Browne, Peter Robinson, Michael Stevenson, Giovanni Intra, Yuk King Tan, Saskia Leek, Brendon Wilkinson, Francis Upritchard, et al and Lisa Reihana.

Presenting the largest number of Collection works ever shown at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, including treasured highlights, the project seeks to break (open) the mechanisms of collecting and challenges the role and success of the museum. If a collection is meant to reflect the society that creates it, there are problems with the methodologies if amongst this highly regarded collection, so few perspectives are captured.

This conflict in motion is made visible through the lens of a gallery collection, and provides a crucial course alteration for the future. Here, the collection becomes the scene, and the body in attendance is dynamically addressed, and each of us – the institution, the visitor, and the artist herself are implicated in what these future procedures may be.


Ruth Buchanan is a New Zealand artist of Te Atiawa, Taranaki, and Pākehā descent living in Berlin. She develops site and material specific strategies that include sculpture, text, spatial structures, performance, audio, film, textiles and graphics. The construction of the public moment is crucial and is viewed as strategically staging the parameters of encounter and the manifold power-structures that subsequently emerge. Rooted in legacies of feminism, institutional critique, and experimental writing her practice puts sets of standards into motion by re-formatting existing traditions of presentation and the functionality of systems of explanation.

Buchanan gained her BFA from Elam School of Fine Art, Auckland in 2002 and her MA (Fine Art) from the Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam in 2007. She has realised major commissions at, amongst others, MASP, São Paulo; Adam Art Gallery, Wellington; Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin; Tate Modern, London; The Showroom, London; If I Can't Dance I Don't Want To Be Part Of Your Revolution, Amsterdam, the Gwangju Biennale, Gwangju; Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth, and the Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe. She has participated in exhibitions at, amongst others, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane; Kunsthaus Hamburg; Kunsthaus Bregenz; Auckland Art Gallery; Arnolfini, Bristol; The Dowse Art Museum, Lower Hutt City, and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. In 2018 Buchanan was awarded the Walters Prize.

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