Letters – Issue 75

Worth a thousand words

Your reviewer, Paul Thompson (NZB, August 2006) says of Laurence Aberhart’s Domestic Architecture (1974-2005):

The function of this book is problematic – its natural meaning would seem to be as a catalogue to accompany an exhibition, and the book does list “exhibitions with particular relevance to this publication”. Individual copies are numbered in an edition of 500, so perhaps it’s intended as much as a “collectable” as a record.

But on p2 of the very sparsely-worded publication is “Published by McNamara Gallery Photography in association with the exhibition: Laurence Aberhart domestic architecture 7 December 2005-28 January 2006.” Also, the aim of the project was clearly outlined in the single-page introduction: “In giving consideration to a single subject, identified as a category within the wider body of his work, one can trace the artist’s evolving practice in an illuminating manner.”

The reviewer is correct in his interpretation that the book “relies on its 103 pictures to do the talking … The photographs themselves do the work”, and it is my concern about the quality of much art writing, which drives a wedge between the work and the viewer, that drives me to encourage this interpretation.

Paul McNamara, McNamara Gallery

Paul Thompson responds: Paul McNamara is right – that information does appear in 8pt font on p2, along with other routine publishing information, and I missed it. However my concern that the photographs are too small to illuminate the development of this aspect of Aberhart’s work over a long period – the stated aim of the publication – still stands.


Haeccity and thisness

I was interested in your use of the word “thisness” in the note on my poetry collection Look Out (Bookshelf, NZB June 2006). I’ve never come across it before. Assuming at first that it was newly coined by NZB, I checked in Chambers and Oxford dictionaries and there it was, a literal translation of the Latin “haeccity”. The meaning pleased me I am glad to say!

It would be interesting to know how readers interpreted the description – those I spoke to about it also assumed it was coined.

Monica Taylor


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