Fiona Pardington

A Beautiful Hesitation

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25 February 2016

‘Taking a photograph is like tilting at windmills. It’s taking on the universe.’
—Fiona Pardington

Fiona Pardington considers each of her photographs to be ‘a sovereign world’, offering the viewer an uneasy, dreamlike experience. She uses the phrase ‘a beautiful hesitation’ to describe photography’s power to arrest time and to alter our relationship with what a photograph both places under our gaze and withholds from it. Throughout her career, she has brought forth some of the most haunting, affecting and challenging photographs made in – and, often, about – our country.

Fiona Pardington: A Beautiful Hesitation showcases the work of one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most important and celebrated photographers. Covering thirty years, it is the most comprehensive publication of her work to date. From her early black-and-white analogue photographs to recent digital images, Pardington’s oeuvre traverses the spirituality that underpins Māori customs and the metaphysical world, to sexual and cultural politics. Her cornerstones are the abject, the discarded, the precious and the wounded, and the deep ties she maintains with her Kāi Tahu heritage.

Published by Victoria University Press in association with Baker+Douglas and in conjunction with City Gallery Wellington and Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, Fiona Pardington: A Beautiful Hesitation includes newly commissioned essays, a substantial interview and an archive section including earlier significant texts. Designed by the artist’s brother, Neil Pardington, this book includes more than 150 images. Many early photographs are published here for the first time.

With essays by Aaron Lister, Hana O’Regan, Susan Best, Kriselle Baker, Zara Stanhope, Ron Brownson and Peter Shand, and an interview by Andrew Paul Wood.



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