David Cox, d harding, Ana Iti, Nicholas Mangan, Kate Newby, Bridget Reweti, Koji Ryui, Yasmin Smith, John Spiteri, Raukura Turei

underfoot brings together works by artists from Aotearoa and Australia for which earth matter has been used in a range of poetic ways. Connecting practices from the region at a time of increasingly desperate ecological crises, the exhibition embraces diverse cultural perspectives to open a reciprocal dialogue with the subterranean make-up of our home planet. The title ‘underfoot’ situates the human body within the physical and temporal vastness of the landscape. Central to this is knowledge held in Te Ao Maori of whenua, which refers to both ecology and placenta. Embodied by tangata whenua and mana whenua, we find here a deep, inextricable connection between people and place.

This fundamental, existential relation between the land and human life carries throughout the exhibition via painting, sculpture, installation, photography, and video. Through formal and conceptual approaches artists figure earth as an essential, animated and temporal conduit. Materials derived from the land including ochre, pigment, stoneware, sand, metal and rock are used to map a multiplicity of worldviews addressing creation, geography, lifecycles, history, and rites of passage. Aptly, exhibited works hold regional specificity, each coded with geocultural significance, from ochre gathered at Warmun in Western Australia to onepfi (black manganite sand) collected at Karangahape (Cornwallis) in Tamaki Makaurau (Auckland). Inherent to these primal mediums, and their convergence in this exhibition, are important socio-political questions­where they originate, how they’re used and perceived, and how our relationship to them is evolving.

Presented in association with Auckland Arts Festival 2024

Image | Bridget Reweti, 4866 – PRETTY MUCH 2021. Courtesy of the artist.

09 March - 12 May 2024

Photos: Samuel Hartnett