There are many ways of being an artist. Elisabeth Pointon’s preferred mode is “double agent.” The playful surfaces of her artworks disarm us while she smuggles in some other message.
Elisabeth Pointon is a contemporary artist. Born in 1992, she lives in Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Wellington.
Elisabeth is best known for her event-based and sculptural works, which centre on text, and references her former career at a luxury car dealership. Pointon riffs on physical advertising devices, such as banners, blimps, and flailing tube men. The phrases she favours—‘BIG DEAL.’, ‘SPECTACULAR.’, ‘PHENOMENAL.’—are the ebullient language of sales floors. She embraces slipperiness, but also retains a keen interest in the potential of collective understanding and action.
An important element of Elisabeth’s practice is institutional critique. She responds to the failings or limitations of galleries, gallerists, and curators in ways pointed and subtle. As a queer woman of colour, she recognises that artists like her are still shown relatively seldom by public institutions, and are constantly at risk of being side-lined or tokenised. She creates works that are bold and outlandishly grand, seizing opportunities to occupy the most space that she can.
You can choose not to take Elisabeth seriously, but that’s on you. Do so at your own risk. Like the court fools in Shakespeare’s plays—who exercise the privilege of speaking truth to power as well as entertaining—Elisabeth makes the most of her comic dispensation. She cultivates fun, only to cut it with a dash of critique. She opens your mouth with laughter, only to slip something serious in. Tragedy and comedy in equal parts; humour balanced by absolute sincerity.