Nau mai, haere mai, welcome to EyeContact. You are invited to respond to reviews and contribute to discussion by registering to participate.

JH

Talia Smith on Reeves Road

AA
View Discussion

If seen as c-print images framed and spread out in a gallery, these images would be probably be perceived as contemplative - for the reasons described above. However when greatly enlarged as public billboards at the side of a busy road they change. Their mood becomes intensified. They become nihilistic and mischievous, even aggressive, presenting a challenging confrontation accompanied by sardonic laughter.

Te Tuhi billboards

Pakuranga

 

Talia Smith
Plants and Rags


1 August 2015 - 21 February 2016

Talia Smith’s large photographic images in Pakuranga - on the Reeves Road wall opposite the Te Tuhi frontage - examine commercial lots where buildings have been unbuilt (anticipated but never constructed), demolished or removed, allowing nature to take over so that weeds proliferate and detritus accumulates. Her three hoardings are not symmetrically positioned as you might expect, for the lefthand one is surprisingly in black and white. It unsettles. All three are bleak and subtly confrontational because she forces us to look at sections - addresses we would normally hurry past - to study their surroundings and their contents.

There is a lot of nasty dirt, unpleasant unfecund earth, peppered with mangy weeds and dumped domestic junk (furnishings and suitcases), presented within symmetrical compositions where conspicuous boulders, white walls (with black numbers) or weathered billboards are plonked in each centre. It may not be but the soil does not seem user friendly. It has the ambience - the appearance - of toxicity. Ubiquitous in vacant industrial lots that are uninviting.

The dated and faded advertising on the hoardings seems strangely tragic here - exhausted and forgotten. KD Autoparts dominates one; white bread promotion another - an empty Tranz Link container is dumped nearby.

While the Te Tuhi brochure says that through her depicted sections “Smith seeks to capture a quiet beauty in their transitional state” these images are grittier than that. They seem steeped in melancholy, not so much in terms of loss (say, absent industrial architecture or unused square meterage), but more the contamination that urbanisation inevitably brings. Nature (such as blue skies) seems pure and joyous (providing glimpses of discovered celebratory beauty) while civilization only pollutes. Collectively the three billboards are unrelenting.

There are also meanings here to do with the lack of local economies and sustaining markets that would encourage the ‘constructive’ use of the land in terms of providing goods or services. Smith’s images raise questions about wastage, transience and market vulnerability, and various assumptions we might have about that notion. What might be the sensible or constructive use of these spaces? Is there a range of feasible alternative possibilities?

If seen as c-print images framed and spread out in a gallery, these images would be probably be perceived as contemplative - for the reasons described above. However when greatly enlarged as public billboards at the side of a busy road they change. Their mood becomes intensified. They become nihilistic and mischievous, even aggressive, presenting a challenging confrontation accompanied by sardonic laughter.

That is because most drivers would see them as ugly, presenting an unsightly form of landscape many would prefer to be covered over or ignored. Like ‘flipping the bird’ with the middle finger, these questioning images in a public space have a heaviness. They snarl at the shopping motorists, sneering at the franchises and store owners perpetuating the fickle consumer economy.

John Hurrell

Print | Facebook | Twitter | Email

 

Recent Posts by John Hurrell

JH
Mark Francis, Jericho, 2022, oil on canvas, 183 x 244 cm

International Plastic Soul

FOX JENSEN MCCRORY

Auckland

 

International group show
Plastic Soul


19 November - 17 December 2022

JH

Crop Circle Ruminations

Emil McAvoy
Soft Launch: An Exopoetics of the Crop Circle Phenomenon

Coloured photographs by Emil McAvoy
Essay by Chelsea Nichols

PUFF PIECE x Bad News Books 2022

JH
Installation view of etchings in Elizabeth Thomson's Cellular Memory in Gallery Four of Te Uru's top floor. Photo by Sam Hartnett, courtesy Te Uru.

Thomson @ Titirangi & Arch Hill

Te Uru & Two Rooms

Elizabeth Thomson

Cellular Memory (Te Uru)

24 September - 4 December 2022

 

My Titirangi Years (Two Rooms)

21 October - 19 November 2022

JH
Installation of Nikau Hindin's Manu Aute: Rere Runga Hau at Season. Photo: Seb Charles

Nikau Hindin Kites

SEASON

Auckland

 

Nikau Hindin
Manu Aute: Rere Runga Hau


8 October 2022 - 19 November 2022