Imaginary Geographies - New Light Box Exhibition

1 December 2011

New ways of interpreting our environments is the theme of the new Courtenay Place light box exhibition Imaginary Geographies. Artists from New Zealand, Australia, Mexico and Korea combine both real and imagined landscapes to encourage passers-by to take a fresh look at public space.

Exhibition curator Claudia Arozqueta says she hopes the works will inject a little curiosity into people walking past the light boxes at the western end of Courtenay Place. "It's about imagining spaces - the spaces where we live are not fixed. They transform in history, in life and through imagination."

The exhibiting artists use a variety of aesthetics and techniques to realise their Imaginary Geographies.

Wellington artist Kate Woods explores the different possibilities that existing images can offer. She has created a series of collages from images of local places, such as Karori or Oriental Parade. In Futureworld she imagines an overgrown Wellington enveloped by plants and waterfalls that make it look beautiful but impossible to access.

"As the future moves towards 'green roofing' the images are like a parallel world or future city. With cutting, pasting and repetition of plant images I am interested in creating the sense of a computer game, like 1991's Civilization - a strategy game where the objective is to build an empire that stands the test of time," says Woods.

Auckland-based Korean artist Jae Hoon Lee uses digital technology to multiply, mix and loop seawater, creating new alternative landscapes.

Elaine Campaner is an Australian artist who uses everyday objects including teacups, toys, fabrics and bags to create imaginary scenes and landscapes.

Mexican photographer Alex Dorfsman explores the cultural dimensions of globalisation from a geographic perspective. In his work, titled Universal Geography, Dorfsman replicates significant aspects of world landscapes - such as Mount Owen in Kahurangi National Park or the fields of Erfourd in Morocco - by taking photographs of similar vistas in Mexico. With this project the artist intends to question the notion of place and identity in a world where people, ideas and products are in constant motion.

The works by the four artists will go on display from 8 December but several spaces in the light boxes will be left empty. Proposals from artists and designers, in response to the works already in the exhibition, will be sought.

"We're asking other artists to check out the exhibition when it opens and put forward their own work exploring real and imagined landscapes," says Arozqueta.

Any art forms that can be presented as a large digital image in the light boxes will be considered, including photography, collage, drawing, digital imagery, text and mixed media.

Artworks will be selected by Arozqueta and representatives from Wellington City Council's Public Art Panel. The selected artworks will be printed and exhibited as part of the Imaginary Geographies project from February to April 2012.

Works not selected for the light boxes may still be included in the project and published on the exhibition's website and twitter pages.

Imaginarygeo - Twitter website

Wellington poet Lucy Orbell created a poem especially for the show, which will be displayed on benches around the exhibition, along with other text from other authors.

Imaginary Geographies will open on Wednesday 7 December, 5.30pm at Jimmy's, St James on Courtenay Place.