Last week I went into the big smoke again and made time to see Neil Pardington’s show at Two Rooms, in Newton.
I had not heard or seen any of Neil’s work before, but when the latest art news new zealand arrived in the mail I got exited.
This show, The order of Things, has such a strong link to my practice that I needed to see it.
The show had 8 large photo’s and then a large grid of 4x12 photo’s.
Some of the larger images were like a glimpse at the back of a ‘show’, where props stand ready to be used for the next act. These images felt part documentation of what is ready waiting in the wings of a museum ‘show’ and also the ‘extra’ props that are at the disposal of a museum.
These extra props appear to be more of the same that is already on display or simply the overflow of all the extra objects that a museum has behind the scene’s.
Pardington’s work is influenced by Michel Foucault (a French philosopher who wrote the book called The Order of Things; An Archaeology of the Human Sciences, from which Pardington has borrowed not only the title for his work, but also the acknowledgement off the impact of photographic images have on how we look, read and come to understand the world.)
The main images that I went there to look at where the photo’s of the single objects/bottles filled with marine life forms.
This isolation of one single bottle, represented at a large scale I found fascinating. The size of these large images made the objects more accessible, but still had a mystic about them, as size did not necessarily make the object more obvious as to what it was. Some details became clearer, while other parts were blurred away.
The size did make the works more extra ordinary, more unique and special.
These works certainly help to “celebrate the camera’s ability for detailed observations” (Ewen McDonald, May 2013), what they also do is create a record, a form of documentation other than stuffing something in a jar. And it is another way of preserving something unique and by doing so providing us with easy access into understanding where we may fit in this world.
This world of marine life we certainly know we do not belong to, but are still fascinated by as many of these creatures we consume or simply come across while exploring/enjoying the outside beach environment.
By displaying these images outside a museum setting Pardington, for me, has invited me into a museum, without having to physically go there. He is inviting me to view these creatures, through using special back lighting, in a different way than I did when I saw them in ‘real’ life. Many of these bottled creatures crossed my path a couple of weeks ago when I was at the museum doing some research for my practice. I then found them fascinating, in particular how they were lined up on shelves that could be viewed from 2 sides.
In this setting they felt more real, very 3 dimension-able, with more of a scientific, slightly mad scientist mystic. The images from Pardington appear to be more 2 dimension-able, less scientific, but more of a documentation, a preservation fascination. The floating of the bottles in a black background, with no apparent grounding creates a sense of unease.
The content of the jars make the work very fragile. Many of the marine life in these jars appears to be young in age, giving the work a sense of time, but also a fragility that is easily translatable not only into a human perspective, but also in regards to our environments and how we treat the world.
These works were an absolute inspiration for me, from many aspects. It made me realize that my artistic voice has a real place in the world of art.