Yvonne Todd

Mauve Structure

2010
C-type print, edition of 3 + 1 ap
560mm x 452 mm

signed Yvonne Todd, dated September 2010 and inscribed “Mauve Structure”, 1/3 in ink verso

Provenance

Acquired from Ivan Anthony in 2010.

Exhibitions

Iris Paste, Ivan Anthony, Auckland, New Zealand, 22 September – 16 October, 2010.
Yvonne Todd: Creamy Psychology, City Gallery Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand, 6 December, 2014 – 15 March, 2015.

Literature

Robert Leonard, ed. Yvonne Todd: Creamy Psychology. Wellington: Victoria University Press, 2014.

Essay

At times Yvonne Todd’s photographs seem cryptic, yet alluring, as if the key to unlock them has somehow gone missing. Throughout a large number of distinctive series involving...

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Estimate $3,500 - $4,500
Achieved $4,024

Yvonne Todd

Mauve Structure

2010

C-type print, edition of 3 + 1 ap

signed Yvonne Todd, dated September 2010 and inscribed “Mauve Structure”, 1/3 in ink verso

560mm x 452 mm

Auction N˚1

Estimate $3,500 - $4,500

Achieved $4,024

Footnotes
  1. Yvonne Todd, e-mail correspondence, 12 October 2015.
  2. Ken Hall, “Yvonne Todd: The Wall of Man,” Christchurch Art Gallery Bulletin, n. 173, Sept-Nov, 8-11.
  3. Yvonne Todd, “Do I Even Like Photography?” Creamy Psychology (Wellington: Victoria University Press in Association with City Gallery, 2014) 32.

Mauve Structure

by Martin Patrick

At times Yvonne Todd’s photographs seem cryptic, yet alluring, as if the key to unlock them has somehow gone missing. Throughout a large number of distinctive series involving portraiture of (mostly) women, threads of the theatrically gothic, celebrity culture, and social critique are interwoven in a deft, visually captivating manner. Often this is evidenced in the period fashions Todd has used extensively throughout her work, from extravagant formal gowns to intentionally homespun apparel. However, in her “portraits” of generic, urban architectural locales, such subtexts are less readily available to the viewer. This is to say that the dressed-up but eerily vampiric child protagonists of the Vagrants Reception Centre (2005) series can perhaps be more clearly decoded than the shiny, yet equally foreboding, facades of the post-industrial corporate infrastructure referenced in Todd’s image Mauve Structure (2010).

What’s going on behind the mirrored, reflective surfaces of this glass and steel sheath? Intrigues in boardrooms one might suspect, or, even less excitingly, multiple employees sitting in carpeted cubicles, personalised by their own family photos and postcards. Todd is orchestrating a psychological game involving metonymy, a part to whole relation; she highlights how inscrutable the corporate realm is with its disembodied financial transactions, passcodes and clearances, management hierarchies and targets, all of this summed up in one, holistic architectonic shrine.

Todd presents us with a luminescent hard-edged apparition, a shell onto which we might project our own notions. Mauve Structure is a phallic monument shrewdly framed by its pastel coloration, a contemporary temple that already looks utterly dated. Isolated in some generic office park, separated from urban centrality, it is an operational outpost. A structure that you would not look at twice, had Todd’s unyielding gaze not landed there to elicit your attention, in the form of an uneasy, lingering double take; at which point you find yourself staring at something that normally would be rapidly passing by your rear view mirror. According to the artist,

Mauve Structure is an office block in Takapuna. I’m not sure if it has a name. I was compelled to photograph it as it has an appealing mauve shimmer late in the day, when the weather conditions are right.¹

One might also infer an associative link here with Todd’s photographic series Wall of Man (2009) in which the artist advertised for: “MEN AGED APPROX 65-75 required by Shore photographer to model suits/jackets. No previous experience necessary.”² Todd subsequently photographed the respondents to her classified in conservative business suits, titling the images: International Sales Director, Chief Financial Officer, Independent Marketing Director and so on. Todd knowingly riffs on the language of the conventional and authoritative head shot. Todd frequently uses such languages counterintuitively, making them work against themselves, thus creating a strange, remarkably unsettling re-contextualisation of existing tropes. Her photographs play into our fears that the corporate world might be anonymous and untrustworthy.