A new Romance on Courtenay Place

19 November 2015

What are the large collective romances of today? What do they look like? These are just two of the questions posed by artist Richard Shepherd in his new outdoor work Romance, on display in the Courtenay Place Park light boxes from December this year until April 2016.Presented across 16 backlit panels Romance features pictures photographed from broadcast television that reflect and illuminate our pixel-blasted lives, providing a dream-like backdrop to the drift and jostle of the city.

Image of Romance by Richard Shepherd

Romance by Richard Shepherd

While Romance’s multiple images will be exhibited separately – with some photographs repeated on both sides of a light box – the artist hopes his individual pieces will work together to form a whole.

"Part of what I'm trying to think about is how to organise a large ensemble of differences, of different images and fragments of images, without relying on a dominating central principal. Leaving the final arrangement to a certain amount of chance means the work takes on a shape not determined solely by my own limited point of view. The site is of a scale that prevents any viewer taking in the whole at once and must instead be composed, each time anew” says Shepherd.

“The title Romance refers to the ways television pretends to offer up a collective image of happiness and to conduct our desires in a drama, a romance, of narrowly defined, little pleasures. All the same, within this hinterland of the digital program industry there are untapped possibilities and virtualities that can be organised differently.

These visual fragments of collective experience attempt to work through the cliché of a media now on its heels both from the onslaught of the digital and a world bursting in so many directions as to be almost impossible to cover.”

Shepherd is continually generating images in his studio, photographing television events and imagery, and creating a significant digital archive. Earlier in the year a hundred of these images were turned into posters and pasted throughout the city laneways and streets on poster hoardings for the exhibition Free Association.

The artist’s work and writings have appeared at the City Gallery, Wellington, Enjoy Gallery and at Pantograph-punch.com.