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Weight of the Human Heart - An installation by Nancy de Freitas

31 March 2004

Combining light, sculpture, projection and sound, a new multi-sensory installation at the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu encourages viewers to experience what the artist describes as “a private reconnaissance of the conceptual space of the heart”.

The exhibition, Weight of the Human Heart, which opens at the Gallery on Friday 2 April is part of an ongoing body of work, examining notions of perceived identity.

Gallery Curator, Contemporary Art, Felicity Milburn says the exhibition suggests the artist’s fascination with the new identities immigrants and exiles build as they resettle and form attachments to unfamiliar places.

“Personal histories and concepts of ‘home’ and ‘belonging’ have long interested West-Indies born, Auckland-based artist Nancy de Freitas,” says Felicity Milburn.

“ In this context,” says Felicity Milburn, “the exhibition title reflects the artist’s wish to evoke something of the emotional weight that is a consequence of dislocation.”
“Cultural materials such as tradition, memory and identity are preserved, reconstructed, perhaps questioned and sometimes discarded. What are the cues to our awareness of what home and history mean for us?” says Nancy de Freitas.

“A long time ago, maybe decades ago, or in my imagination, I read or was told that the weight of the human heart was about the weight of a handful of earth,” says Nancy de Freitas.

“The heart has the potential to stand for the inner life of a person, which is precisely where the understanding of ‘home’ is located. I like the reference to weighing up or considering and the idea of measuring a part of the whole, a fragment.”

 “Weight of the Human Heart is made up of fragmentary components, each measured out in small portions, and the notions of home, remembrance and movement versus immobility are strong themes.”

“The past, with its complexities and its elemental, incorruptible memories, is etched permanently but coloured differently in the present day light.”

Weight of the Human Heart is in the Borg Henry Gallery, ground floor, from 2 April to 27 June. On Wednesday, April 21 at 6.00 pm Nancy de Freitas will speak on her work and her current installation, in the Philip Carter Family Auditorium, as part of the Gallery’s Montana Wednesday Evenings programme.

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