Passion project

X: Best after 33 AD 1993, colour photograph, by Giovanni Intra (1968-2002).
X: Best after 33 AD 1993, colour photograph, by Giovanni Intra (1968-2002).
A work in the Dunedin Public Art Gallery collection puts an old story through a modern filter.

Giovanni Intra was an important and influential figure in the New Zealand contemporary art scene in the 1990s and early part of the new millennium.

He developed from a provocative and prolific young artist, after moving to study in Los Angeles in the mid-'90s, into an internationally recognised art writer and art dealer.

Sadly, Intra died in 2002 aged 34.

As an artist, Intra was interested in the culture which had evolved around punk music.

He was also captivated by medicine, particularly pathology, and religion.

We know that Intra was interested in the notion that modern medicine had replaced religion as a source of hope and salvation, and that he was naturally sceptical that medicine contained all the answers and truths it purports to do.

This fascination with the frailties and maladies of the human condition were informed and paid homage to the formative literary, philosophical and artistic works of the early surrealists.

X: Best after 33 AD depicts what appears to be the tagged foot of a cadaver, beautifully shot in front of a vivid ''medical'' blue background.

The work is from a series of 14 images grouped under the overarching title the ''Unrequited Passion Cycle''.

These photographs restage a modern version of the Stations of the Cross, 14 unique events commemorating the death of Christ, beginning with being condemned to death and ending with him being laid in the tomb.

Intra wrote, ''I responded to the Passion cycle like a mad doctor, putting a contemporary medical perspective on it - if Christ turned up at Auckland Hospital on a Saturday night, what would happen to him?''.

The Dunedin Public Art Gallery purchased this work for the collection last year.

It adds to our relatively small holding of works from an important and exciting time in New Zealand art history.

X: Best after 33 AD is featured in the exhibition ''Belonging: works from the Dunedin Public Art Gallery collection''.

''Cool and Collected'' runs fortnightly in the The Weekend Mix, sharing stories from the collections of Otago Museum, Toitu Settlers Museum, Dunedin Public Art Gallery and Olveston.



The ''Belonging'' exhibition, of which X: Best after 33 AD 1933 is a part, is on at Dunedin Public Art Gallery now.

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