Rooting For You

Susu’s installation invites us to consider a journey, where the material of the work magnifies an alien sentience. This artwork has two lives, a discrete personality in the day – almost hidden by its translucence, and another life enlivened at dusk. Susu has placed phosphorescent crystals within the heart of each plastic sphere. In the day, these crystals absorb light energy from the sun, emitting this energy as a soft green light at night time and under the shadows of canopying foliage above. These spheres have a chemically engineered life force, where their roots are loosely tethered to the ground – waiting to depart.  

The synthetic nature of the work reminds the viewer that plastic is so ubiquitous and ingrained in the terrain that it feels ‘natural’. These works poeticise the potential of artificiality, as if they were enlarged water droplets dripping from the organic foliage of the trees, hardening on their descent to the ground – as if they had their own emotional, and relational patterning. 

A significant mahinga kai site for Ngai Tūāhuriri, Rhododendron Island’s size, shape and vegetation were altered partly by efforts to ‘beautify’ the city. Now the artist has introduced new elements which begs the question when, and how, do new arrivals become part of a place. In the late 19th century, the island was partially excavated to create a public swimming spot in the river, then ‘restored’ when river swimming waned (not least due to the discharge of untreated effluent from the hospital) and planted with rhododendrons that were maintained by the Christchurch Beautifying Society.

The binoculars on the riverbank invite the viewer to zoom in on the details and implications of these works. Through the magnifying lens, the viewer becomes a  tourist, held at a distance and separated from the artificial ecosystem fabricated by the artist. The viewer is asked to decode the tension between organic and alien matter, while integrating the past, the present and the future of systems in which we find ourselves entangled.





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