Atlas of Anti-Taxonomies: de-categorising the world to reveal the wild disorder of nature

An ant’s eye, orange peel, a hibiscus flower, rhubarb, bacteria and a space blob – all these seemingly disparate images are brought together with stunning effect in Alicia Frankovich’s new exhibition Atlas of Anti-Taxonomies, opening Saturday 12 February at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū

Atlas of Anti-Taxonomies features more than 100 images that the New Zealand born artist has gathered, sourced or created, grouped together in eight large double-sided lightboxes displayed throughout the gallery space. 

“The collated, overlapping and montaged images are wild and vibrant, a little bit like a Google image search or as though you’ve somehow entered the Internet,” says Curator Melanie Oliver. 

“Their placement on the large screens feels momentary, as though this is just one iteration of many possible permutations, disrupting any typical or static taxonomical order.” 

“The title Atlas of Anti-Taxonomies itself implies that there are alternative ways to organise, describe and understand the world and its inhabitants,” says Oliver. 

Taxonomy is the practice and science of categorisation. 

“Generally these categories and links are decided and maintained by patriarchal, Western, heteronormative, wealthy, humanist authorities,” says Oliver. “This exhibition says that doesn’t need to be the case.” 

Frankovich’s Atlas of Anti-Taxonomies visually references the monumental but unfinished Mnemosyne Atlas (1924-29) from German art historian Aby Warburg (1866-1929). Warburg amassed nearly 1000 photographs of artworks, cosmography, maps, people, places and things, arranged across 63 panels to show how themes, patterns or motifs repeat across different times and places. 

Visitors to Frankovich’s exhibition will see a similar approach of allowing the gathered images to speak for themselves, through new and surprising combinations – though these things are not always what they seem. What looks like deep space, could be a microscopic image of water kefir. 

Coupled with poetic captions, Atlas of Anti-Taxonomies indicates concerns around contemporary issues like climate change and viral spread. 

Atlas of Taxonomies runs from 12 February 2022 to 22 May 2022 at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū. 

Alicia Frankovich was born in Aotearoa New Zealand and received a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Sculpture) from Auckland University of Technology in 2002 and a Master of Fine Art from MADA, Monash University in 2016, where she is currently a PhD candidate. 

Her work spans the mediums of sculpture, film and performance. 

Recent exhibitions and performances include those at the Art Gallery of New South Wales; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf; Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne; and Palais de Tokyo, Paris. 

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