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SCAPE 6 - Swamp

by Ruth Watson

For the 6th SCAPE Ruth Watson was to present Swamp, an artwork for visitors to and residents of Christchurch to engage with the inner city streetscape at night.

Swamp was to consist of two large-scale outdoor video projections to be viewed at night along High Street. The imagery is both site-specific and open-ended in reference.

After the Christchurch earthquakes it was re-worked for its re-presentation on Silo 6 along the Auckland Waterfront. The imagery was presented as two separate moving images, showing sequences of water that flowed, reversed and flowed again.

Image & video credits:

Swamp, Ruth Watson, 2011

© SCAPE Public Art & Ruth Watson

Ruth Watson

Since the mid-eighties Canterbury-born artist Ruth Watson has exhibited throughout New Zealand and internationally, producing a substantial body of artwork stemming from her interest in the histories and processes of cartography. A number of the artist’s works have only a temporary presence – she has made maps by pouring wine onto carpets, smearing plasticine onto walls, or icing a cake. The fragility and impermanence of these materials often evoke a sense of the elusiveness, even impossibility of arriving at any singular, authoritative world view.

Watson recently exhibited Au hasard, Unnerved, Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, 2010; Entangled, Te Tuhi, Centre for the Arts, Manakau, 2008, and The (re)formed world, Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, 2008. Other important exhibitions include Unsafe, Two Rooms, Auckland, 2007; Telecom Prospect, Wellington, 2004; Paradise Now?: Contemporary Art from the Pacific, Asia Society Museum, New York, 2004; The World Over, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 1996, and The Boundary Rider, 9th Biennale of Sydney, 1992.

Site is a crucial element to many of the artist’s works, with environment and experience playing intrinsic roles in the planning of them. Watson attempts to transform the manner in which society identifies and defines experiential spaces. Watson’s 12-metre map of the universe, titled Between Light and Dark Matters, was installed in one of the ruined observatories outside Canberra in an area devastated by the 2003 bushfires. Between Light and Dark Matters carries a particular poignancy because, although installed at the Yale-Columbia Observatory - a place established to ‘view the heavens’ - the physical reality of the site was, at the time, completely incapacitated.