The impulses to make art and to collect both belong to the great human urge to understand and impose order on a chaotic world. Melbourne-based, New Zealand artist Patrick Pound doubles down on these possibilities by making his art about collecting and by turning collecting into a form of art.
Pound is primarily a photographer, but he doesn’t take photographs. He ‘retakes’ them by searching for and acquiring material from eBay and other online sources, then ordering them within ever-growing collections or ‘museums’ based around a single idea or proposition.
His chosen examples rarely simply ‘illustrate’ the idea. They hold it—metaphorically, physically, poetically, obliquely, symbolically, instrumentally, through a relationship to other objects—or in any combination of these ways. They are asked to do so ‘whether they like it or not’. Pound’s installations mash traditional modes of exhibition display with the logic of internet search algorithms. They are presented as giant taxonomic puzzles or games, inviting visitors to test their wits against the collections.
For this exhibition, Pound shuffles his collections with the more venerable ones of Te Papa Tongarewa around overarching themes of reflection, mirroring, and the double. Masterpieces from the national collection, snapshots, everyday objects, and even a soundtrack become transmitters of these core ideas. Pound pushes these possibilities to breaking point. He mixes high and low, iconic and unknown, the beautiful and the damned. He even presents the exhibition layout as a giant palindrome. Or, is it a Rorschach test—the exhibition itself asking whether there is method to this madness, or madness to this method?