Gavin Hipkins

Artspace Aotearoa

The Habitat, 1999–2000, Gavin Hipkins’s latest photographic installation, was promoted as a political project, a kind of finely tuned savoring of the loss of modernist idealism. Hipkins has been accurately described as “a tourist of photography,” and in this exhibition his grasp of genre and tonal fluctuation is as astute as ever. He borrows the language of modernist architectural photography, perfected by stylists like Julius Shulman, and toys with it, turning out image after tightly cropped image so spellbound by representational method that they’re incapable of comprehending architectural form. If his constant cropping indicates an attempt to hunt down the political, what he finds is the impossibility of locating anything other than a perfectly vague aestheticism.

Brutalist buildings, “The People’s Architecture,” were erected on New Zealand university campuses in the ’60s for a generation

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