'Wanderlust' explores ideas around travel in space, time and personal history. Lee has recently regained a fascination with the physical making of objects across a range of materials resulting in a broad and busy show that infectiously conveys the enjoyment and excitement of its creation. Resolutely non-linear, 'Wanderlust' pulls in every direction. Lines scatter and bend as branches, veins, thoughts deviations and distractions.

Excavating memories, what is real memory? Did this really happen? I've got the photo to prove it.

I remember being someplace else, North America, I came back but it wasn't a choice I made, there was a force I couldn't withstand. But how much of me actually made it onto the plane? Something of me is still there or it wouldn't upset me to think about.

I remember sometime else, young, I lived in Forfar St, I lived in Lyttelton too. I'm told I lived somewhere in Burnside also but I don't remember that anymore, did I ever remember it? I don't even remember remembering it.

When I was dropped back in Christchurch I found that two of the flats I lived in have been knocked down and now townhouses live there with shiny cars decorating the yard.

Read Borges' 'The Witness' - it's kinda biblical in reference but the message carries over. What dies with me? These memories exist in me, to travel back to, to relate to others. Others can maybe then remember something someone (me) told them. But when I die, I'm maybe the last person that actually saw it, or was there, for at least something, maybe something incredibly banal. However, everything that I remember is part of me, memories I can't escape even if I wanted to. Has anyone invented a device that allows you to selectively erase your memory? I'm sure it's the premise for more than one bad Hollywood flick, but I didn't see it. Actually I probably did but I don't remember the movie, just the premise.

Deviations, distractions, all worthwhile. Time isn't actually real after all, unless you've got a deadline, and most of us don't know about the big ones. Time isn't real unless you know when you're going to die. Mum didn't for most of her life, and there is so much I'd want to check out with her, stories I remember her telling me, that died with her. I can look at the photos and make up the stories, and tell them and then they're real for someone else. If I tell them enough times, they'll move ever closer to real. And sooner or later someone will tell the story back to me, cementing it's veracity.

So, deviations and distractions rule my life and everything in it, art etc. I'm exploring an area, representing it, maybe revealing some things, but there is no pithy thesis statement. I can't say explicitly or completely what it's about, I can say where some of it's come from. I've felt trapped, buffeted, pushed around. Nervous with excitement, ecstatic with newness, with wonder. I've lost people, things, opportunities had things thwarted. I've had dreams, I have dreams, they change all the time, so the future is moving just as readily as the past is escaping, just as sure as i am right here right now.

The show is full of things that i've made, things abstracted from what i've felt and been in all sorts of ways. Resolutely non-linear, 'Wanderlust' pulls in every direction. Lines scatter and bend as branches, veins, thoughts, deviations and distractions.


Fuck you, Buddy

Upon the initial viewings of this show, it appeared to ME that some giant and UNgod-like hand had grabbed a bunch of art from a series of remote corners of the globe, rolled it into a ball, and booted it across the ocean -destined to land in a gallery and explode into clusters. There seemed to be no consistency in the work whatsoever. I walked around the space looking for some semblance of theme and concept like a drunk who has unconsciously shambolled his way into the second act of a play, wondering whether god is trying to direct him in the right path.

But as I visited the show over the next week, everything began to come clear. I began to see the show for what I hope it was. If it isn’t this, it’s something else, and that matters.I realised that the shows consistency actually lay in it’s lack of order and diversity. I sensed a very personal and tense energy within the installation. Each of the work seemed to be pulled taut against everything else. The fact that the tower of suitcases in the very centre of the gallery collapsed on the opening night really helped set this idea into me. It was almost as if the artist had poured so much of himself into the installation that it had taken on it’s own sentience, and reacted of it’s own volition accordingly. After realising this, I could feel a plethora of emotions whipping through the work. It was almost like everything the artist felt strongly about in his life at that point in time could be heard in these angry delayed whispers that leaked from the work.

I couldn’t ignore the kind of transient element either. Indeeeeeeeeeeed. I kept getting the powerful impression that Lee Devanish had no desire (or reason?) to be in this foul, desperate and conservative city any longer. This was his ‘Fuck you buddy’ to everything that perhaps had happened to him.
But it also seemed like his: ‘But now I’m free, so eat me.’

A lot of things came out in the wash with this show. I always love personal art; it doesn’t matter how you interpret it, if it’s affected you deeply in some way (no matter how small) then it’s valid. There are too many artists in all genres trying to make some socially relevant statement, and it usually doesn’t work. More often then not, it states the obvious in a really contrived manner or is just a reiteration of what we already think and know and DON’T need to be reminded of. This is definitely the most personal and emotional show at High Street Project so far this year, and I will be surprised if anything tops it in that respect.

Stand out works in ‘Wanderlust’ include the bleeding toothpaste, the cello tape figure, the scattered suitcases and the revolving table with the little man sitting on the edge. But the most subtle was the line of photographs along the back wall. I almost think that this was the most vulnerable and honest part of the installation, and were well placed because of that –almost hiding behind the more direct pieces just like how we often partially hide our weaknesses in the hope that people will simultaneously see them AND think that we weren’t crying for help. Each of these works I believe represented the above discussed key elements to Mr. Devenish’s show. All in all, a wonderful and Brave exhibition. I hope this is just the beginning, and the boundaries are pushed further.

I get this feeling that a lot people didn’t really understand what the artist was trying to do with this installation, and that saddens me. I also can’t completely tell who is at fault here either- I mean, a small part thinks that perhaps it wasn’t obvious enough for people to get in touch with, but I know that’s mostly crap, and the real problem is that few actually possesses the ability to sit down and try to give a fuck. THIS, is why we have artists like Lee Devenish around. Does he have to be more obvious and comprise himself until the work reluctantly screams it’s intentions just so all the muppets can actually understand? Why the fuck should he? It’s not his fault that people have highly developed mass consumption-induced fears of self-investigation.

We only consume because it is FED TO US through a highly provocative and domineering medium. And most art can’t and won’t do that. People refuse it because it is simply not being forced into them like everything else in their lives, it makes it kinda hard to actively pursue things now doesn’t it.

Reviewed by Tristen Deschain