By Hana Aoake on EyeContact website
25th of June, 2015
Changing Shores of Shadow is a series of six photographs and a video work by Kate van der Drift, embedded with a dreamlike sublimity. Their starting point came from looking through a series of council maps outlining potentially rising sea levels. The show became concerned with the socio-political complexities of water, human residue and urbanisation, resulting in compositions which are both haunting and meditative.
Each photograph is essentially a large still life that, whilst devoid of people, highlights the effects of human interaction within different landscapes. The gallery is permeated by the smell of timber: four of the photographs framed in treated wood, the other two unframed. Van der drift employs both analogue and digital manipulation to construct these mise en scenes which are subdued spectacles. Alongside these photographs is a collaborative video made with poet, Joan Fleming.
Everything returns to the sea (2014) is an eerie photograph of a semi flooded rugby field, marked by human interaction through the appearance of a goal post and faint car tyre markings from a ‘doughnut’. Behind this soggy paddock in the distance is a ghostly wall of fog, clouding over the trees. This mist is reiterated in each of these photographs, giving them a mentally indelible quality and vivid sensuality.
Everything dissolves eventually (2014) is a foggy landscape with a cluster of harakeke in the foreground - in the middle of a pool of water. Some of the harakehe has flowered and is almost flopping into the surrounding water. Significantly Māori thought this flax plant represents whānau, with the flowering part (rito) representing the child, while the protective stems (awhi rito) represent the parents. The outer layers of harakeke represent tūpuna or ancestors/grandparents. Swimming around these plants appear birds which are either geese or ducks.
To me this work is a subtle reference not only to anthropogenic climate change, but also to the effects of colonisation, and how we should be seeking to implement strategies which incorporate Māori spirituality and knowledge within our approach to urban planning.
Sketch I (Regarding tomorrow) (2015) has a painterly quality with a configuration of weedlike plants collapsing on top of each other and falling into the murky water underneath. It also features a misty outline of the surrounding landscape with the focal point of the pictorial plane (the plants) reflected in the dark water.
Deep Greenness (manifesto) (2015) is the collaborative video made with Joan Fleming, shown on an ipad with headphones. Fleming’s script paints a hopeful, yet sometimes nihilistic, series of metaphors for how we might negotiate contemporary life.
As this text progresses, Fleming’s voice changes from sounding serene to being breathless and urgent. It also in some ways mimics the images on the screen - through the image of the floating blob of seaweed, which moves like a jellyfish as it follows Fleming’s voice, bobbing up and down, drifting in and out of the foreground. At certain points the camera breaks the surface, before plummeting back underwater and slowly drifting back towards the seaweed. Occasionally the seaweed appears reflected on top of the water.
This video work for me was the exhibition’s highlight. By putting the headphones on I could drift with Fleming’s articulations - and get carried off into the ocean’s abyss.
Read more: http://eyecontactsite.com/2015/06/van-der-drift-photos#ixzz4ptWGL9ni
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