Joyce Campbell, <i>Wairekeina Raging</i> from the Te Taniwha series, 2010, gelatin silver photograph, courtesy of the artist

On the Last Afternoon: Disrupted Ecologies and the Work of Joyce Campbell
Curated by John C. Welchman
27.07.19 – 20.10.19

On the Last Afternoon: Disrupted Ecologies and the Work of Joyce Campbell is the first substantial presentation of artist Joyce Campbell’s photo- and media-based practice. Occupying all but the Kirk Gallery, the exhibition develops in dialogue with the architecture of the Adam Art Gallery to foreground the remarkable variety of approaches she has taken to her chosen media and subjects. Rather than a conventional survey, the exhibition unfolds what the artist describes as ‘a meditation on the interdependence of physical systems’. Curated by leading contemporary art historian, LA-based John C. Welchman, On the Last Afternoon examines the forcefield of relations Campbell has activated between photography, philosophy, ecology, material history, science fiction, and the care and reading of sacred and symbolic landscapes, over the course of her near three-decade career.

Raised in Wairoa on the east coast of the North Island and now based in Auckland, Campbell spent a decade in Los Angeles and Southern California. She is drawn to and has negotiated extreme conditions: the wild places of rural New Zealand; the desiccated, smog-choked hinterlands of California; the icy vastness of Antarctica; and the ocean’s coral reefs and imagined depths. Shifting scale from the microscopic to the global, she uses a wide spectrum of techniques from photography’s two-hundred-year history to give visible form to the beauty, complexity and sheer perseverance of life under threat.

Campbell’s preference for nineteenth-century techniques and analogue processes gives rise to images of extraordinary detail, depth, richness, and texture; but it also fulfils her ambition to depict subtle or ‘mysterious’ things and events that modern cameras and standardised equipment do not allow. She is interested, above all, in the interconnectedness of complex biological, spiritual, and representational systems. She believes in the potential of photography to resist the global techno-capitalist hegemony that underpins the exponential collapse of biodiversity and the decline of spirit and mutual understanding in the contemporary world.

The exhibition is accompanied by a fully-illustrated 320-page publication, co-published by Adam Art Gallery and Sternberg Press. Featuring new and existing writing by Elizabeth Grosz, Tungāne Kani, Richard Niania, Mark von Schlegell, Bernard Stiegler, John C. Welchman, and an extended foreword by Christina Barton, the companion volume provides important understandings of Campbell’s artistic, philosophical, and political reference points. Including insights from the guardians of the valleys and hills, rivers and forests in the district where she grew up, the book illuminates the embedded wisdom and inherited narratives that inform and are revealed by her photographs.

The exhibition and publication have been made possible with substantial support from the Faculty of Creative Arts and Industries, University of Auckland, Chartwell Trust, Jenny Todd, and Bath Street Trust.

Joyce Campbell (b. 1971 Aotearoa New Zealand) is an interdisciplinary artist based in Auckland New Zealand. She has an MFA from Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland (1999), where she is now Associate Professor. She has lived, studied, taught and worked in Southern California and has undertaken residencies in New Zealand and Antarctica. Her recent work utilises anachronistic photographic techniques, such as the daguerreotype and ambrotype, as well as conventional analogue and digital photography, video, film and sculpture. She uses these to examine the collision of natural and cultural systems often in extreme environments. Her interests have led her to render visible microbial colonies, crystals in the process of formation, silver dispersing into colloidal suspension, the migration of glaciers into the ocean, distressed coral reefs and dead forests, river gorges in rural New Zealand and California’s desert washes and industrial brownfields. She has exhibited throughout New Zealand, and her works have been included in solo and group exhibitions in Australia and the U.S. She is represented by Two Rooms, Auckland, Bartley + Company Art, Wellington, and Nadene Milne Gallery, Arrowtown and Christchurch.

John C. Welchman is Professor of Art History, Theory and Criticism in the Visual Arts Department at the University of California, San Diego, Chair of the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts, and a leader in the international arts community. His books include Modernism Relocated: Towards a Cultural Studies of Visual Modernity (Allen & Unwin, 1995), Invisible Colours: A Visual History of Titles (Yale University Press, 1997), and Art After Appropriation: Essays on Art in the 1990s (Routledge, 2001). Welchman is editor of Rethinking Borders (University of Minnesota Press, 1996), Institutional Critique and After (JRP|Ringier, 2006), The Aesthetics of Risk (JRP|Ringier, 2008), and Black Sphinx: On the Comedic in Modern Art (JRP|Ringier, 2010). The first two volumes of his collected essays are published with Sternberg Press, Past Realization: Essays on Contemporary European Art (2016) and After the Wagnerian Bouillabaisse: Essays on European Avant-Garde Art (2019); volumes discussing art on the West Coast of the U.S. and the work of Mike Kelley are forthcoming.


Joyce Campbell, <i>Taniwha V</i> from the Te Taniwha series, 2010, gelatin silver photograph, courtesy of the artist

Te Taniwha: The Manuscript of Ārikirangi
Ngā kupu whakamahuki nā Richard Niania
Photographs by Joyce Campbell
Kirk Gallery
27.07.19 – 20.10.19

Te Taniwha: The Manuscript of Ārikirangi is a new iteration of Richard Niania and Joyce Campbell’s decade long project to capture and preserve kōrero (narratives) about the people of Whakapūnake te maunga (the sacred mountain of the Wairoa region) and Ruakituri awa (a major tributary of the Wairoa river). At the centre of the exhibition is a rare manuscript containing hymns, prayers and whakapapa written by the Rongowhakaata warrior prophet and founder of the Ringatū faith, Te Kooti Ārikirangi Te Turuki. This is one of the founding documents of Te Haahi Ringatū mentioned by Judith Binney in an appendix to Redemptions Songs, her biography of the prophet. Alongside this important document are other notebooks containing material written by various hands relating to the new faith, the vessel they have been stored in and an unfinished kotiate (bone club) that have been handed down through the generations.

These taonga have been in the care of the Kūnaiti, Ranapia and Niania Whānau of Te Reinga for the last one hundred and fifty years. They were given by the prophet to Niania’s ancestor Paratene Waata Kūnaiti in 1869 and handed to Niania by his grandmother, Pare Īhaka Ranapia-Niania in 1988. She was the last ever Pou Tikanga (church leader) of Te Parihi o Whakapūnake (the Parish of Whakapūnake) of Te Haahi Ringatū at Te Reinga where Niania still lives.

Accompanying these artefacts are photographs of the manuscript, taken by Campbell and printed digitally for this occasion, and a translation by Niania of the first prayer contained in Ārikirangi’s notebook, together with his commentary on his Whānau’s role in Ārikirangi’s historic journey through their whenua (land).

This is an historic occasion, marking the moment when the manuscript at last enters public life. The exhibition respectfully acknowledges Te Kooti Ārikirangi Te Turuki as a man of enduring wisdom whose thinking and vision led to the founding of an ideology, Ringatū, and the eventual establishment of Te Haāhi Ringatū, in 1931, as an official branch of Christianity that continues to be practised in Aotearoa New Zealand today.

Photographs and video from other bodies of work in the Te Taniwha series are installed in the exhibition spaces surrounding the Kirk Gallery. They draw on the mythology, history, and ecology of Te Reinga and the Ruakituri Valley, referring, in particular, to the mythic water-dwelling creature, Hinekōrako who lives there. Often using anachronistic equipment and sometimes printing in a field darkroom, Campbell’s inspired chemical manipulations of light offer unique evocations of the mystery and materiality of her subjects.

Richard Niania (Ngāi Kōhatu, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Te Wairoa) is based at Te Reinga in the Ruakituri Valley near Wairoa, where he is tribal historian and kaumātua of his Ngāi Kōhatu Hapū. He was educated at St Stephen’s School, Bombay and attended Victoria University in 1973. In 1975, he returned to Wairoa to work on the Tauwharetoi Incorporation until he joined the Department of Māori Affairs in 1987. When the Department was devolved, in 1989, Niania returned to Victoria and, in 1991 completed the BA he had begun in 1973.  He returned to Te Reinga in 1992 taking up leadership roles in Hapū, Iwi and Community organisations in Wairoa and greater Ikaroa-Rāwhiti region. He has worked with Joyce Campbell on Te Taniwha since 2010, a long-term project resulting in several exhibitions relating to the hītoria (histories) and pūrākau of Te Reinga and its people.


Opening week events

Friday 26 July, 6-8pm
Exhibition Opening
Adam Art Gallery

Exhibition opening, with guest speaker Professor Rawinia Higgins, Pro-Vice Chancellor Māori at Victoria University of Wellington

Saturday 27 July, 2pm
Exhibition Tour
Adam Art Gallery
Exhibition tour with artist Joyce Campbell, Ngāi Kōhatu kaumatua Richard Niania and guest curator, Los Angeles-based contemporary art historian John C. Welchman

Tuesday 30 July, 5.45-6.45pm
John C. Welchman: The Uncanny and Visual Culture

Old Museum Building Theatrette
Massey University
Los Angeles-based art historian and curator of On the Last Afternoon, John C. Welchman, presents a public lecture in partnership with the College of Creative Arts. Doors open at 5.30pm at the Old Museum Building Theatrette, RM10A02, Block 10, Massey University


Click here to view the full public programme and here for a print friendly version.

Download a pdf of the media release here.