Jane Zusters, Matthew Galloway, Naeem Mohaiemen, Selina Ershadi curated by Simon Gennard, @ENJOY


Optimism and its afterlives by Jane Zusters, Matthew Galloway, Naeem Mohaiemen, Selina Ershadi
curated by Simon Gennard


30 October – 5 December 2020


Enjoy Contemporary Art Space, 211 Left Bank, Cuba St, Te Aro, Te Whanganui-a-Tara
Aotearoa New Zealand 


Enjoy Contemporary Art Space’s new exhibition Optimism and its afterlives thinks around a series of transitional moments. Opening Friday 30 October, the exhibition includes newly commissioned projects by Matthew Galloway and Selina Ershadi alongside works by Jane Zusters and Naeem Mohaiemen.

The exhibition proposes that art has the capacity to allow us to linger with the surprise, disarray, bafflement and hope of best-laid plans and unmet expectations.

Spanning registers that are at once urgent, lyrical and searching, Optimism and its afterlives maps disparate temporal and geographic terrains—from a dam on the Mata-au Clutha River in Otago, to the environmentalist scene in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland in the 1980s, to that same city as it appears today, to an airport tarmac in 1970s Dhaka.

The exhibition includes a series of paintings made in 1985 and ’86 by Jane Zusters, shortly after her Ponsonby studio was raided by police in the investigation following the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland Harbour by French secret service agents.

Zusters, who has been working as an artist since the 1970s, has been involved in New Zealand’s feminist and environmentalist movements. While living in Auckland in the 1980s, Christine Chabon, one of the agents involved in the bombing, befriended the artist, staying at her flat for a number of weeks.

Ōtepoti Dunedin-based artist Matthew Galloway’s new project The power that flows through us, produced especially for the show, explores the architecture and political history of the Clyde Dam. Initiated under Robert Muldoon’s Think Big infrastructure projects, the dam was a controversial project, requiring parts of Tīrau Cromwell township to be submerged.

For the exhibition, Galloway has produced a series of sculptural works which mimic the forms of steel banisters lining the dam’s viewing platforms, as well as reproducing political cartoons published around the time.

Selina Ershadi presents a new film The hands also look. Composed intuitively over several months, the work comprises the revisitations, tangents and microscripts that make up a life. Weaving together fragments gleaned from Ershadi’s relentless reading, family anecdotes and correspondence with loved ones, these passages are read over an immersive soundscape created in close collaboration with interdisciplinary artist Frances Duncan.

Also included in the show is New York-based artist Naeem Mohaiemen’s 2011 film United Red Army (The Young Man Was, Part I), which tells the story of the 1977 hijacking of Japan Airlines flight 472 by the Japanese Red Army. Belonging to a larger series of films, Mohaiemen’s work explores moments of misrecognition and ill-fated alliances within the archives of international socialist militancy.

Mohaiemen has exhibited his work at documenta 14, Athens; Bengal Foundation, Dhaka; MoMA PS1, New York and the Venice Biennale. The artist was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2018.

Optimism and its afterlives is curated by assistant curator Simon Gennard.

For further information, please contact Simon at simon@enjoy.org.nz.



Matthew Galloway, Research image, 2020. 

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