Kate van der Drift
The Oasis and The Mirage
It is with a critical eye, practiced at mistrusting photographs that the view of the landscape is questioned. 'The Oasis and the Mirage' is a project that considers landscapes altered by colonisation, industrialisation and weather, linking landscape’s reality with that imagined by its conceiver.
The history of learning to view landscape as 'picturesque', has impacted New Zealand’s development of the scenic reserve and the displacement of Tangata Whenua. An understanding of imperial ways of looking has been critical in thinking about how to view, understand and picture the landscape.
Artists engaged in the field of ‘experimental geography'1 analyse human and natural interactions with the land, and view the ‘production of space’ as a symbiotic process of change for both land and culture. A perspective of ‘connections, liquidities and becomings’ was explored by Philip Steinberg and Kimberley Peters in their theory of ‘wet ontology’ as a means by which "material and phenomenological distinctiveness can facilitate the reimagining and re-enlivening of a world ever on the move."2
Land and water states are intertwined making up the earth’s exterior. 'The Oasis and the Mirage' focuses on those surfaces that can become one another. Water is digitally manipulated, its materiality and multivalence working as metaphor with an ability to transform shape and to cover the land. It can also shroud, erode and inundate; its transparency giving the potential to see through or behind. Fiction and reality meet, well-known tropes merge, meanings shift, past and present fuse.
- Trevor Paglan, "Experimental Geography: From Cultural Production To The Production of Space." Experimental Geography Radical Approaches To Landscape, Cartography, and Urbanism. New York: Melville House, 2008, 29.
- Philip Steinberg and Kimberley Peters. "Wet Ontologies, Fluid Spaces: Giving Depth to Volume Through Oceanic Thinking." Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 33, 2015, 248.