Otto Zoo presents We are all Astronauts, the first solo show at the gallery of New Zealand born, London based artist David Rickard.
‘I’ve often heard people say, “I wonder what it would be like to be on board a spaceship”, and the answer is very simple. What does it feel like? That’s all we have ever experienced. We are all astronauts.’ Buckminster Fuller, 1969
Written during the height of the ‘space race’ and the birth of modern environmentalism the phrase We are all Astronauts speaks of an expanded point of view, one from beyond a geocentric position. This widening of perspective is central to Rickard’s exhibition at Otto Zoo which continues his interest in the inherent material properties of our surrounding environment and the spatial relationships between people, objects and architecture.
Bisecting the gallery is the major new installation Black Fan, a vast array of black cords suspending steel plumb bobs in a regular line just off the gallery floor. At first sight a visual fan might be discerned as the black cords ascend to the ceiling with linear perspective, yet it is the imperceptible convergence of the vertical lines drawn by gravity that forms the tip of a vast fan that intersects deep within the core of the earth.
The works We are all Astronauts and Vertical Horizon travel beyond the extension of Black Fan with photography and film documenting relative global locations. We Are all Astronauts, created in Mozambique, Central Brazil, Western Australia and French Polynesia documents a series of precise coordinates of the same latitude but separated by exactly 90 degrees longitude. At each of these locations a right-angled marker made of found wood was erected by local collaborators to form the four corners of a global installation. While for the work Vertical Horizon, Rickard visited the antipodal locations of Hokitika, New Zealand (S 42° 42.25, E 170° 58.50) and Abiun, Spain (N 42° 42.25 W 9° 1.50) to create a film that reveals the fluidity of our localised notion of orientation.
The work Star Gazer references Buckminster Fuller with its geodesic structure and the mathematics of Johannes Kepler who in the 17th Century believed he had discovered, the proportions of the known solar system by nesting the five platonic solids inside each other to form Mysterium Cosmographicum. However, Kepler’s theory proved to be relatively inaccurate and was later crushed by the discovery of Uranus and Neptune. By unfolding an icosahedron, after detonation of a Star Gazer fireworks rocket inside, a triangulated star map emerges of an explosive event within the boundaries of an ideal system.
The physical location of Otto Zoo is integral to the works 100,000 Pa and London Chair. Located at 117m above sea level the gallery rests at the precise altitude where the standard ambient air pressure is 100,000 Pa at 25C, instead of the standard atmospheric pressure of 101,325Pa measured at sea level. By installing a single radiant heater Rickard forms an invisible territory, locating the gallery within a wider climatic context. London Chair also references a context beyond the confines of the gallery by cutting the legs of one of the gallery chairs and carefully re-aligning it for London. The resulting lopsided chair becomes anchored in Milan in order to maintain its new alignment with the artist’s home city of London.
Like all of the works within We are all Astronauts a simple, yet carefully considered action has been undertaken to expand and connect an everyday object to the wider context in which we all exist.