Francis McWhannell Writer and exhibition-maker

Jiggly bits

On the sculptures of Caitlin Devoy

My initial impression is of a queer kind of museum. A long, low piece of furniture—resembling both a bench seat and a display case—supports a parade of condiments: squeezy bottles of mustard, cannisters of Tatua Dairy Whip cream, a huge jar of mayonnaise. They’re not the real things but immaculate casts made of pink silicone and black rubber urethane, visibly supple. Tall Perspex boxes are threaded with similar replicas of recorders: equal parts snake and charmer’s flute. A table is topped with a cream can and a rubber jelly or Bundt cake. In another context, such entities might seem innocuous, even banal. But here they have been inspirited, made wondrously weird.

Weirdness is what first drew me to Te Whanganui-a-Tara artist Caitlin Devoy. In June, I stumbled across two of her sculptures in a group exhibition at play_station. Strange out of all proportion with their everyday reference points, the works provoked an enduring curiosity, which ultimately led me to this place: the artist’s studio, populated with pieces for her upcoming solo show, Display. Devoy’s work centres on the human body, a subject at once seductively universal and perilously well-worn, especially in the context of art. She touches on typical concerns: the politics of bodies, how they’re seen, represented, lived in and with. Yet her sculptures possess unusual freshness. She finds quirky ways of framing familiar questions, exploring longstanding phenomena. …

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By Francis McWhannell
Francis McWhannell Writer and exhibition-maker

About

Francis McWhannell (b. 1985, Aotearoa New Zealand) is a writer and exhibition-maker based in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. He is curator of the Fletcher Trust Collection, a major private collection of Aotearoa art founded in 1962.