Under the Eyes of the Volcano
Under the Eyes of the Volcano is the result of a month long residency at Residencias Artísticas por Intercambio in Mexico City in October 2014.
My proposal was to build photographic set-ups which would explore 21st century environmental concerns as well as reflect an intuitive response to the variety and richness of Mexico City. I also set out to focus on objects made of plastic, a material of increasing global significance, bright, light, and seductive but also insidious and a grave threat to the environment. Using everyday objects, posters, food and plastic bags collected from the streets and shops of Mexico City I constructed still life arrangements in the studio which was located in Colonia Juarez in the heart of the city.
The title Under the Eyes of the Volcano refers to both New Zealand and Mexico. The majestic volcano Ruapehu overlooks my town in New Zealand much in the same way that Popocatepetl overlooks Mexico City. Both are reminders of a powerful natural world which contrasts strongly with urban life.
Along with exploring the shops and markets I also enjoyed looking at Mexican art. Many of the photographs in this exhibition reference Mexican artists such as Jose Maria Velasco, Frida Kahlo, Jesus Helguera, and Remedios Varo. La Catrina, the skeletal creation of José Guadalupe Posada also makes an appearance.
I fell in love with Mexico City. With over 21 million people it is filled with intense street life, lively markets, colonial churches and palaces, skyscrapers, world-renowned museums, historic parks, impressive universities and a good subway system (often with musicians playing at the entrances). Tradition and modernity intermingle. The folk art, music and food were wonderful.
I spent my first week there exploring, gathering materials and meeting people. The next two weeks saw a period of intensive studio work (along with some salsa dancing). And the last week was spent finalizing the artwork, printing images and holding a small exhibition at Puerto Turin in Colonia Juarez.
I am very grateful to Residencias Artísticas por Intercambio and its directors ZerJío JonSalés and Danna Levin for their support, warmth and hospitality. There were many friendly and generous Mexicans who invited me into their homes and shared their culture and lives with me. I thank the Embassy of Mexico for giving me the opportunity to exhibit this photographic project Under the Eyes of the Volcano.