approx 5000mm x 5000mm x 20000mm
A large steel apparatus occupies the space, yet simultaneously points to (and supports) an absence whose origins began as an 'object mount' or 'museum mount' to hold a mammoth. Lacuna supports the invisible contours of an un-rendered, missing entity and in many respects, holds aloft the elephant in the room.
Presented as part of Secrets and Lies — Scape 2020, Christchurch Ōtautahi, Aotearoa New Zealand.
In Lacuna, Dane Mitchell continues to explore ideas of absence, disappearance, and obsolescence that have become central to his practice over the last two decades. Mitchell works to make the intangible tangible and the invisible visible; telling stories that highlight blind spots in our collective memory. His work tests the limits of our institutions and the enlightenment values they were built on, often looking beyond what can be measured or defined to the poetics of the infinitesimal or inexplicable. Mitchell’s projects are not intended as a whole-hearted critique, there is, in fact, an underlying interest and homage to the precision and rigour of the work undertaken by experts of all kinds.
It is at this intersection of imagination, highly refined craft, and museology that Lacuna exists. Referring to a gap or a missing part, Lacuna also refers to a process of critical thinking where gaps can be logically “filled” by understanding what comes before and after. A giant steel apparatus occupies the space, yet it also signifies an absence; it is both a sculpture and a support structure—whose origins began as an 'object mount' to hold a mammoth. It is chimerical, holding and fusing together with the invisible contours of an unrendered, missing entity.
In relation to SCAPE Public Art Season 2020, Secrets and Lies, Lacuna brings the back of the museum - the store, the workshop, the things we are not usually privy to - into the foreground. It suggests that the front-facing work of the museum, creating environments and manipulating material in order to convince audiences of a certain point of view is built on the shifting and subjective values and beliefs of the people who occupy them and therefore, like its cousins the art gallery and the library, is an open book, rather than a concrete monolith. Situated in the former engineering school of The University of Canterbury - which then became the pre-quake Court Theatre - Lacuna and its environment will be surveilled and transmitted into the Canterbury Museum creating a closed museological feedback loop that visitors inside the museum can use to look out into other more uncertain spaces.