Athenree is a tiny beach town in the coastal Bay of Plenty, in the artist’s native New Zealand. It was named after the Northern Irish ‘townland’ that is home to the monolithic Athenree Portal Tomb. Revealing an interest in the process of traveling and the concomitant instability of ‘place,’ Broughan’s new works state their claim on the here and now while simultaneously questioning exactly where and when this might be. In assemblages, loose-hanging works, mixed-media panels, and photo collages, Broughan draws on the languages of painting and printmaking alongside those of photography and collage to play with space and form, line and color. Using colored vinyl, leather, denim, and polyester grounds, she alludes to her own physicality while pondering the nature of artistic production itself.
Broughan manipulates her photographs visually and physically, subtly shifting the emphasis of personal and quotidian imagery in some works, referencing the language of commercial imagery in others. Her use of stitching—a strategy informed by Warhol’s “Sewn Photographs”—inserts shots distinguished by their immediacy into carefully composed arrangements, the thread dividing our attention between the physicality of the art object and the patterning of its surface. By also cutting holes or apertures in her works’ supports, Broughan refers to the mechanics (and limitations) of photography, digital manipulation, and vision itself, and alludes to our seemingly innate tendency to edit. As New Zealand artist and critic Peter Dornauf writes, this “exposes the constructed nature of the subject while also providing a simulation of depth, which seems like the contradiction it actually is. Such incongruity and paradox is the essence of this artist’s practice.”