Surveyor, PhD Show 2017

This exhibition attempts to elucidate through a process of travel, research and making, the way memory markers reveal or conceal themselves in differing circumstances, specifically discussing ideas of enigma, signature, place-naming, silence, absence and speech. By observing and referencing signs, signwriting, tombstones and monuments there is a repeated encounter of human interventions with and in landscape. Whilst I walk the tracks and paths towards these markers I am repeating the action of advancing and retreating from memory, I also perform a kind of pilgrimage/research interaction that reveals to me the complex and differing layers of memory that exist within the social spaces of Aotearoa New Zealand. These experiences of mine in the field, both physical and cerebral are then articulated into the art works that constitute the thesis of this practice led PhD.

A key aspect of the project involves the research and discussion of the uses of text in Aotearoa New Zealand and its continued presence in contemporary art. Within the parameters of this writing I pay particular attention to the usages of language that draw attention to the complexities of naming, recording and translating the texture of social memory in the public domain.

Research questions involve a questioning of the nature of historical monuments in relationship to the complexities of memory. Furthermore, as a nonindigenous landscape artist, who was born in Aotearoa, how does my artistic practice relate to modernist perceptions and traditions of landscape painting in New Zealand? How does the nature of travel and the use of photography relate to an ongoing studio practice?

Surveyor has become an exhibition that attempts to trouble oppositional structures of presence and absence, inscription and erasure. In this respect, the project engages with temporalities in which artworks explore death and memory. The difficulties of reading the underlying qualities of marked places. My practice explores the lingering effect that memory markers have on the witness. At the core of my work and its translations of the landscape exists a dis-stilling of time that paradoxically opens up toward the depth of an elsewhere. This ‘elsewhereness’ destabilises binary oppositions which presume to lock a fixed site to a fixed time.