News | 19 October 2016

Changing Turakirae Head is rich territory for exchange artist

Josette Chiang’s multimedia installation Coastline Paradox, opening at Toi Pōneke Arts Centre this month, is the result of her 3-month Wellington residency.

Chiang is a Chinese British artist and is Artist in Residence in the Wellington Asia Residency Exchange (WARE) programme.

Featuring video, sculpture, sound and text, Coastline Paradox explores 7000 years of tectonic uplifts at the Turakirae Head Scientific Reserve, 20 kilometres south of Wainuiomata, at the end of the Coast Road. The area has been a reserve since the 1970s and Chiang has worked her way through 100 years’ worth of written material and scientific reports during the course of her residency.

Coastline Paradox forms part of an ongoing investigation of coastlines which began in the artist’s native Hong Kong.

“I began the Coastline project as a topographic study of the coastal area and different vantage points of Hong Kong through a film that follows different ways of traversing the urban and rural terrain – by ferry, walking, bridges and by car.

“I became curious about coastal geography. It reminds me of the finitude of land and also that the coastline is where people, earth and water meet. I was thinking about the coastline as a navigational tool, territorial boundary, and representing nationhood and international exchange.”

While Chiang arrived in Wellington looking to explore concepts of measuring unfixed forms, how reclaimed land tells the story of a changing country, and the official acknowledgment of the Anthropocene (human-influenced) epoch, she quickly discovered other important themes.

“I’ve been learning how important the coast is to New Zealand identity,” she says. “For me as an artist working here, it’s such rich territory, the coast is the subject of live debate – both culturally and environmentally. I find I’ve become environmentally aware, almost by default.”

The WARE residency programme is supported by Wellington City Council, the Asia New Zealand Foundation and CIRCUIT Artist Film and Video Aotearoa and includes accommodation at historic Bolton Street Cottage.

While Josette Chiang has been preparing Coastline Paradox, over in Beijing, this year’s WARE Wellington recipient, Daniel Beban, is curating a series of shows at Beijing’s experimental music venue Fruity Space. Beban is the founder of The Sound and Light Exploration Society, and the series is a collaboration between fruity Space and local venue the Pyramid Club.

Coastline Paradox 
21 October–12 November

Artist talk 
1pm, Saturday 29 October

Toi Pōneke Arts Centre 
61-69 Abel Smith Street