Current Exhibition

Maximum Potential NOW. Samantha Cheng, Matt Joils & Sophie Sutherland

Hātarei 20 Āperira -
Hātarei 8 Hune

Saturday 20 April -
Saturday 8 June


Research image courtesy of the artists. Photo: Lindsey de Roos

Research image courtesy of the artists. Photo: Lindsey de Roos

Maximum Potential NOW brings together three artists: Samantha Cheng, Matt Joils and Sophie Sutherland, who each draw from the multiple, and ever-pervasive, languages and realities of consumer capitalism—what writer Jia Tolentino refers to in her essay ‘Always Be Optimizing’ as the “chopped-salad economy’s accelerationist nightmare.”1

One of these realities is the feeling of failure; felt through an acute lack, an inability to measure up to the expected standard, or how active opposition or resistance to capitalism can become, ultimately, subsumed back into the norm. Much of the language of commercial advertising exploits anxieties around failure. A language often shared by the self-help and wellness industries: are you surviving or thriving?

Cheng, Joils and Sutherland together explore this feeling of failure through their artwork and embrace, in part, what can be absurd, funny, joyful, pointless and/or redundant about experiencing day-to-day life under our current consumer capitalism system. Maximum Potential NOW takes the pressures on people to self-optimise, hustle and keep up their market-friendly optimism, and attempts to subvert these through simple gestures of co-option. Materials and elements taken from the surrounding visual cultures of consumerism become the means to test its boundaries.

The potential for a product to be the expected solution to a problem is often what keeps the system, as a complex machine of desires and experiences, ticking. Such potential must necessarily remain unrealised to keep it ticking.


1 Jia Tolentino, Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-delusion (London: 4th Estate, 2019), 67.

Samantha Cheng

Samantha Cheng works across installation, sculpture and video to pursue purposelessness and seek out humourous encounters in artmaking. These strategies in her practice consider failure as a generative space for making performative gestures that operate as an ongoing rehearsal for the real world. Previous exhibitions include Passengers, held on a train ride of the eastern line of Auckland Transport service as part of Rumpus, Chez Derriere (2023), and Mass/mess, Window Gallery (2023). She lives in Tāmaki Makaurau and has an MVA from Auckland University of Technology.

Matt Joils

Matt Joils is a painter based in Tāmaki Makaurau and his works draw from visual elements found organically online and graphic design in the urban wild. He synthesises paintings that are deeply ambivalent and at times transgressive, and has an MCP from Unitec Institute of Technology.

Sophie Sutherland

Sophie Sutherland (she/her) lives in Tāmaki Makaurau and has a playful practice working between sculpture, installation, experimental sound and performance. Her practice is led by themes of failure and resistance to the chaotic architecture of everyday life. She has an MVA from Auckland University of Technology. Recent exhibitions include Dorks, Lemons, Losers with Isabella Dampney, Malcolm Smith Gallery (2022) and Hot Wheels 3000, RM Gallery (2023).