Alex Monteith was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. As a child her family moved to New Zealand. She was a competitive surfer for six years, the Irish National Women’s Champion in 2001 and competed on the New Zealand, European and world circuits. Monteith now lectures at The University of Auckland’s Elam School of Fine Arts.
Drawing upon her experiences and interests, Monteith collaborates with exponents of high-speed cultures, surfing, motocycle racing and flying, through a series of durational performances presented across multi-screen configurations. Her works offer a real-time encounter with speed, slowness, endurance and performance ‘at the threshold of geographical or territorial extremes’. Further, her practice enters the realm of psycho-geography, as coined by Debord to describe ‘the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment (consciously organised or not) on the emotions and behaviour of individuals’.
Monteith was one of four finalists in the Walters Prize 2010 at the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, where we encountered Passing Manoeuvre with two motorcycles and 584 vehicles for two-channel video installation 2008, Dual-channel video installation with sound. In which a Ducati 996s and a Suzuki GSXR 600 continuously cut through commuting traffic toward the city. The encompassing sound hums, shifts and tilts with the mesmerising action on screen until it comes to a halt and the foot hits the pavement. Granting access to the bodies and machines in motion. It’s sure to appeal to little brothers who ride motorbikes. It conveys experience as only an acute participant-observer can.