NEW ZEALAND PHOTOGRAPHY CURATED BY
CHRISTINE MCFETRIDGE AND TALIA SMITH
Surface Expression (2013-14), a new body of work by Shelley Jacobson, focuses on the impact of industrialisation on three geothermal sites.
There are always two sides to every story and Jacobson explores the potential downside of technological advancements that we have made. She uses the landscape to tell this story, specifically sites within the Wairakei geothermal system. New Zealand is known for its geothermal tourist spots being natural wonders but as her series of work documents, the natural is now turning into the manmade.
"Namely the Wairakei geothermal power station borefield; the manmade geyser at the adjacent ‘Wairakei Terraces’ walkway, which operates using water from the bore field; the nearby ‘Craters of the Moon’ walkway, which developed geologically as a result of changing pressure in the Wairakei system post-drilling. These three interlinked sites speak of the impact of industrial activity, but also act as sites of drama and spectacle."
Jacobson's work is thoughtful and interesting, engaging viewers with images that are as much of a wonder as the natural sites themselves. Social constructs and ideals around place and landmarks through not just New Zealand but also internationally (her series of work titled Sea of Trees made in Japan, is an absolute standout) are the main drive for her work. There is a real strength to each project with many layers of experimentation and research having been taken during the process.
New Zealand is heavily promoted as 'Clean and Green' and a place that features awe inspiring natural beauty; to some extent this statement is true, but as Jacobsen's work examines perhaps now is not the time to become complacent about such a statement. Now is the time that we should take care in making sure that this ever advancing world doesn't make these beautiful, naturally occurring sites anything but a memory.
Now is the time we question what we want future generations to experience firsthand.
- Talia Smith