Unreal Estate – artist explores ideas of land and ownership

Thursday 30 August 2012, 2:36PM
By Christchurch City Council


Land, ownership and the city emerging from the Canterbury earthquakes is explored in an innovative joint project organised by Christchurch Art Gallery in conjunction with Christchurch-based artist Tony de Lautour.

A selection of de Lautour’s real estate paintings have been published in a format which mimics real estate giveaways – and they will be distributed using the same mechanism. Unreal Estate is free and can be uplifted from magazine stands across the city from Thursday 30 August.

Unreal Estate provides a commentary on the changing face of Christchurch’s property market, both in the suburbs and the central city, and comments also on the impact and potential legacy of liquefaction, designated zones and technical categories.

Art Gallery director Jenny Harper says that Unreal Estate provides an opportunity for those who engage in it to experience de Lautour’s work in an unusual format

“It’s an artist’s book so in itself is a fascinating object. But it’s neither archival nor a limited edition. As we see it, this is another Outer Spaces project. But, by using the format and design of a real estate tabloid and by distributing it equally liberally, its unexplained presence around the city will become a subtle statement about property.”

The publication re-iterates de Lautour’s long-standing interest in ideas of ownership, and it follows his earlier explorations of the colonial land grab in New Zealand, says curator Peter Vangioni.

“Each page represents an individual work. The structures, design and formatting of real estate tabloids, and the shapes of houses on the pages have influenced de Lautour’s use of geometric abstraction. The acrylic washes might themselves be seen as a type of liquefaction.

“There is a certain poignancy in the pages, a frustration in the work around what has happened in recent natural events. The methods used by de Lautour give a sense of the cityscape being smothered.”

Unreal Estate will be distributed in magazine stands around the city from Thursday 30 August.  From time-to-time their locations will be changed. The free publication will also be available at Christchurch Art Gallery Shop’s new central city location at 40 Lichfield Street.

For more information visit