There's Something 'Wrong' with this Artist

4 March 2011

When asked, 'what's wrong with you'? in response to her disclosure that she'd been single for four years, Toi Poneke Arts Centre's new artist-in-residence Natalie Ellen Eliza was astounded and decided to explore the idea in a series of video installation works.

The Wellington-based artist, who has just graduated from Massey University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours), plans to expand on the theme with more video installation work during her 10-month tenure at the Wellington City Council-run Abel Smith Street arts centre.

The residency is a joint venture between Toi Pōneke and local company DEBLYN Property Investments Ltd. It includes a rent-free studio and a grant towards a solo show at Toi Pōneke Gallery at the end of the residency.

Natalie's installations so far have included her alarm clock waking her up time and time again - a fight with the 'snooze' option that many can identify with; Natalie on a treadmill at her gym and in other not-so-flattering settings.

Another work involves the website, Chatroulette, which pairs random strangers together for webcam-based interaction and possibly conversation.

Natalie says it's quite common for people to surf Chatroulette almost as quickly as searching through random web pages.

"People are just hitting 'next' all the time," she says, "I basically recorded all the people who 'nexted' me - this is a term that's now used among Chatrouletters. I've recorded hours' worth of people who would see my face and hit 'next' within a few seconds. It was interesting to note that the majority of Chatroulette users were men."

Natalie plans to further explore all these themes - of identity, self-consciousness, societal pressure and more. The culmination of her work will be exhibited at Toi Pōneke Gallery at the end of the year.

Natalie is the second DEBLYN artist-in-residence. The first was another fine arts student from Massey University - Shane McGrath.