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JH

Heaps of Dirt

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Conor Clarke, Peak I (Berlin), 2014 inkjet billboard print,  commissioned by Te Tuhi, Auckland Conor Clarke, Peak II (Berlin), 2014 inkjet billboard print,  commissioned by Te Tuhi, Auckland Conor Clarke, Peak III (Berlin), 2014 inkjet billboard print,  commissioned by Te Tuhi, Auckland

Curious and perceptive pedestrians ambling along the adjacent Reeves Road footpath will have a very different interpretation of these subtle images than drivers of speeding motor vehicles. For most drivers the thought would not surface that these images are piles of sand or dirt kept in a storage yard.

Pakuranga

 

Conor Clarke
Scenic Potential

 


12 March - 29 May 2016

Three enlarged photographs on a concrete block wall designed to catch the eye of passing traffic, images that at first glance seem to be of rugged mountain peaks and craggy greywacke slopes. Some vistas, say, from the Southern Alps. In fact they are mounds of dirt and sand that the artist has discovered in council depots or construction sites in Berlin, enlarged to allude to the sublime and taking on a dramatic starkness against pale wispy skies.

With a close examination you can see within these billboards, the spilling granules and damp clods of the different stored earth/gravel types. Sometimes you can detect protruding rubbish like doubled-over reinforcing rods or gnarly roots. The slopes vary in their sweeping angles, and in their amount of thick clifflike clusters of crumbling material, glued by moisture.

Curious and perceptive pedestrians ambling along the adjacent Reeves Road footpath will have a very different interpretation of these subtle images than drivers of speeding motor vehicles. For most otherwise preoccupied drivers, the thought would not surface that these images are piles of sand or dirt kept in a storage yard.

If you look at the original photographs here in this very informative Chloe Cull review of Clarke’s show at Two Rooms, the enlarged hoardings don’t quite capture the greys of the sky. There might also be a bit of reflective sheen in the support material that outside makes the piles of earth higher in contrast to the pale sky. This almost flattens them so they seem cut out of photographs, with reduced mass, less volume and more graphically dramatic impact.

It also provides other references - to urbanisation and housing that encroaches on farmland, the storage of natural resources, and the power of set-in assumptions that get a default status without careful observation.

John Hurrell

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