News | 13 April 2016


The title of Kate Lepper’s latest exhibition DEAD BUG LIVE opening next month at Toi Pōneke, is no metaphor.

Poster for DEAD BUG LIVE, a distorted bug sits beneath the text
DEAD BUG LIVE, Kate Lepper

Developed especially for the Toi Pōneke space DEAD BUG LIVE is a novel viewing system formed around the carcass of a dead bush cricket, kikipounamu or kihikihi pounamu.

A live feed ordinarily used for breaking news, CCTV, or as an observation method in conservation field work elevates the bug to primetime status. The work responds to the L-shape peculiarity of the gallery space, placing the viewing monitor at one end and the subject suspended above head height at the other. Brightly coloured cord, plastic rainbow spirals and velcro strapping, level utility with aesthetics, and create an uncomfortable tension with the lifeless bug. A large pile of refined sugar weighs down the pulley system in the centre, also marking the spot where the work can be taken in as a whole, as the artist carefully choreographs the movement of the audience through the space.

The work references our childlike fascination for keepsakes from the wild as well as provoking conversation about the culture of nature as spectacle; there primarily for our entertainment.

DEAD BUG LIVE is Lepper’s first solo show since returning to New Zealand from the UK where she studied and exhibited regularly. Lepper also worked as a freelance gallery technician for much of her time in London, hanging a 2013 Turner Prize nominated show and assisting with the installion of a commission by the 2012 Turner prize winner Elizabeth Price.

“I was fortunate enough to brush shoulders with some high calibre artists in London, I learnt a lot for which I am very grateful. Now I’m having a great time settling back into the New Zealand environment whilst maintaining my connections overseas,” says Lepper. “After just over four years in London I was ready to return to what feels like a more physically sensual life here in New Zealand.”

Alongside the exhibition there will be a screening of ‘The Use & Abuse of Vegetational Concepts’, episode two of the  BBC documentary series All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace by Adam Curtis. The episode to screen tells the story of the modern scientific idea of nature – a self-regulating ecosystem – is actually a fantasy.

Entry to the screening is by koha with proceeds going to the Wellington branch of the Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society.

New work by Kate Lepper
Toi Pōneke Gallery, 61 Abel Smith Street
7–28 May 2016
Opening night Friday 6 May

The Use and Abuse of Vegetational Concepts (2011, 60 min)
Episode two of the BBC Documentary series All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace by Adam Curtis
Toi Pōneke Arts Centre, 61 Abel Smith Street
16 May , 6:30pm