The Tomorrow People showcases emerging artists

The works of over 25 artists are being exhibited at Victoria University of Wellington's new exhibition at Adam Art Gallery that focuses on an emerging generation of artists and their hopes, concerns and questions about the future.

The Tomorrow People exhibited work
Theo Macdonald, 'I Assume David Bowie Has Different Coloured Eyes', 2016, digital video, courtesy of the artist.

The Tomorrow People captures participating artists’ responses to present-day conditions as expressed through a range of media including photography, sculpture, painting, text and sound works, and video.

Director of the gallery Christina Barton, who is one of three curators of the show, says they have selected artworks that offer insights into the fraught nature of our current situation, typified by financial and job insecurity, fluid identities, micro-subcultures, mass communications and an inherently fragmented society.

“This is a generation who will graduate from university in debt, who are faced with a precarious working life and a world threatened by political and environmental crises. It’s a generation who has access to so much information through social media, which also requires them to rethink their relationships to their surroundings and to each other. For this exhibition, we’ve deliberately selected artists who offer urgent, resourceful and playful possibilities for navigating these troubling times.”

For example, Wendelien Bakker’s modest wall-based work, Moon Deed, incorporates an actual deed of sale to a plot on the moon purchased online that has been buried in a slab of concrete—an object likely to resonate with millennials concerned about their ability to buy their own property.

Adam Art Gallery curator Stephen Cleland says a number of the artists return to the past to make sense of the present.

“Tim Wagg’s short film 1991 reflects on New Zealand’s political and economic history to explore the legacy of ideologies that promote individualism.

“Wagg’s video features a soundtrack of his interview with former Finance Minister Ruth Richardson. Of course, Richardson is largely remembered as the author of the 1991 ‘Mother of All Budgets’ that slashed welfare spending and promoted the hard-line belief in enabling the free play of market forces. Wagg, born in the same year as this Budget, allows Richardson to reflect on her thinking, yet positions himself as querulous about its consequences.”

Some of the exhibiting artists are pairings, such as the brother-sister duo ‘Yllwbro’ and art collective ‘Fresh and Fruity’.

Christina says collaboration is becoming more common amongst artists. “It’s indicative of the new ways artists are presenting themselves—not as individuals but as collective entities.”

A series of free events will run in conjunction with the exhibition, including artist talks and workshops, a concert with New Zealand School of Music sonic art students and three public forums to expand on questions raised in the exhibition.

Connecting the exhibition to what is going on around it, the Gallery will provide hospitality and the opportunity for conversation on Election Day so the public can share their thoughts on what they want from the next government.

In developing the exhibition, Christina and Stephen partnered with emerging curator and writer Simon Gennard, who recently completed a Master’s degree in Art History at Victoria.

“Simon’s been instrumental in helping curate the show. It’s important for us that The Tomorrow People is curated in a way that aligns with its purpose—to show the perspectives of people who are immersed in the reality of the present, who want to reimagine the future differently. This is not just about creating professional opportunities for our graduates, but listening to them to learn about what lies ahead,” Christina says.

What: The Tomorrow People
When: 22 July – 1 October
Where: Adam Art Gallery, Victoria University of Wellington, Gate 3, Kelburn Parade, Wellington
Cost: Free
More information:

Exhibiting artists: Wendelien Bakker, Diva Blair, Jesse Bowling, Teghan Burt, Quishile Charan, Sam Clague, Hikalu Clarke, Claudia Dunes & Rainer Weston, Fresh and Fruity, Williams Linscott, Isabella Loudon, Theo Macdonald, Annie Mackenzie & Dave Marshall, Ammon Ngakuru, Christina Pataiali’i, Maddy Plimmer, Deborah Rundle, Christopher Ulutupu, Tim Wagg, Daegan Wells, Aliyah Winter, Xun Cao, Yllwbro.