We're Not Too Big to Care


Back and forth and round and round (2014) by James R Ford, Chartwell Collection, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of the artist 2018. Installation View, Gus Fisher Gallery. Photography by Sam Hartnett.

We're Not Too Big to Care

  • Where

    Gus Fisher Gallery, University of Auckland

  • When

    6 April 2019 - 15 June 2019

We’re Not Too Big to Care is a slogan from a 1984 television commercial by grocery store Four Square who used the phrase to help maintain their loyal customer base in the midst of larger corporations. Open to interpretation, We’re Not Too Big to Care may be applied to an organisation or individual and questions that whatever the scale, hierarchies of power and influence are inherent at every level.

The first exhibition at the newly re-opened Gus Fisher Gallery will address the commercial landscape that the gallery finds itself in. Shrouded by Shortland Street’s corporate high-rises in the city’s central business district and near to the arguably declining commercial bubble of Queen Street, the exhibition is a response to the de-humanising nature of mass production and its impact on the individual.

We’re Not Too Big to Care presents the Aotearoa premiere of Asia One (2018) by Cao Fei whose work provides the starting point to consider corporate effects on the individual. Exploring themes of labour, consumerism and technology, Asia One is filmed in the world’s first fully automated sorting centre in China and examines the impact of automation and robotics on human relationships. Fei’s surreal tale of cyclical ecstasy and despair occurs in the warehouses of JD.com, China’s equivalent of Amazon, which completed 1.6 billion orders in 2016. Caught between the need to earn money for their family and the time pressures of a factory job, Fei’s nuanced installation explores what it means to exist in a world dominated by commercial desire, where technology threatens to overcome human skill to nullifying effect.

Using Four Square’s slogan as a retort to the fast paced, cyclical and constructed commercial landscape representative of contemporary life, the exhibition explores what it might mean to rise above these structures to enable us to all regain a sense of humanity.

The exhibition includes newly commissioned artworks by Billy Apple, Aroha Novak, Emily Hartley-Skudder, Hikalu Clarke and Carole Prentice.

Two works from the Chartwell Collection, Learn to Dream by John Baldessari (2011) and Back and forth and round and round by James R. Ford (2014) were loaned to the exhibition.