Say Valley Maker
April 16 - May 10, 2014
When Civil Defence finally left Christchurch Art Gallery - its headquarters of almost two years post quake - there was inevitably stuff left behind. Tables and desktop furniture such as fans, lights and bookends were not wanted. Rubbish bins and whiteboards too. Local artist Rob Hood got wind of this, and re-presents that which was discarded in his new show Say Valley Maker.
The key work is that requisition. When the mountains bow down and become valleys is poised, busy and ordered. Six tables bearing assorted office furniture stand neatly in line, parallel to one another. The transformation suggested in the title is wrought not just by Hood’s careful placement and re-contextualisation of office paraphernalia, but by his cutting into the tabletops – an action highlighted by his humorous location of lamps illuminating both these holes and their cut-outs.
The work might speak of the disconnect between office and post-quake reality, with two fluttering bin-lids beneath a fan looking suspiciously like bureaucratic blather. But it is its formal rigour, its palette and its organisation within, that allows this work to speak volumes – more than the found objects ever could themselves. It is after all, a profound and poetic re-ordering of things that is referred to in that title.
Adjacent is a suite of documentary-style landscape photographs. They are the same size, printed on matt photographic paper and titled simply the places they describe. Straight, seemingly. But some have political subtexts: Homebush documents the location of the main canal of the Central Plains Irrigation Scheme west of Darfield; South Branch Hurunui River #2 is the site of a proposed dam for water storage; and Burwood Landfill greens the rubble from Christchurch’s demolished CBD. Even an image of recreation in the landscape - kayakers paddling in the North Branch Hurunui River - is subtly tainted by the presence of didymo beneath the water’s edge.
In New Zealand, nature is pervasive. It surrounds us. Land, water and sky inform our every day. We watch it. But who watches back? Flying free in the enclosed back gallery is kahu the hawk – a Ngai Tahu kaitiaki. Filmed in the Waipara Valley, this 6 minute looped DVD is the title work of the show, Say Valley Maker. Light and lyrical, yet slightly mysterious and eerie, this short film has no sound. But it is transfixing watching one of nature’s great gliders on patrol, gently vigilant and elegant in an eternal sky. Say Valley Maker presents kahu as constant, bearing witness to a landscape compromised and ever changing below.
Details of works
When the Mountains bow down and become Valleys, 2013
salvaged office furniture Cera - CAG
Rakaia River - Glenfalloch
Washington Skate Park 1 & 2
North Branch Hurunui River
South Branch Hurunui River 1, 2 & 3
LED prints on photographic paper, 2014
1/3, image size 500 x 500mm
Say Valley Maker, 2014
1/1, 6 mins 48 secs