This series documents exposed urban stratigraphy. Curbside ruins. Crumbled footpaths. Potholes. These layers are visible histories within the ground. I interpret these small moments in our urban landscape as interruptions to capitalist strategies. Mythically and metaphorically rich, the ground provides us with clues, knowledge, refuge as well as the sunken networks of extraction, exploitation and disposal. The ground is active, generous and vulnerable. We lace it with tar seal, concrete and gravel; stone blasted and rendered for our urban environments.
I see this work as a way to read and understand the ground as the surface to a complex underland. By collecting, documenting and deciphering the findings, I hope to gather enough data to learn something. I like to reach out in the dark, to gaze into a possible future and let the practice reveal the rest.
These are casts of broken footpaths near and around Karangahape Rd, Tāmaki Makaurau. The markings from tools and previous layers of broken grout lie exposed for interpretation, messages from the underland perhaps, lurching upwards eager to be seen.
The recent COVID19 lockdown brought repair and construction of the footpath to a halt. During this lull in productivity and progress I collected casts which now act as a fossil record. I want to show through the work that I deeply admire the well-used areas we travel through. I want to acknowledge and contemplate the beauty of its worn complexity and explore the idea that meaningful production should be a subset of ‘care’. This approach is about revealing alternative strategies against capitalist modes of production, where we focus on tending and caring for what we have, instead of perpetuating in an ever-expanding frenzy.
The lockdown gave me and my nine-year-old daughter Penelope time to walk around our neighborhood, where she carefully acted as a pathfinder and navigational keeper of our mutual discovery. Together, we found and surveyed small poetic moments of urban decay, some of which will never be fixed, remaining arrested in time. These places are moments where the underground reaches through the ever-expanding mask of concrete, the mark of empire building since Roman times.
For me, these walks enact soft lines of experience and memory, weaving relational becomings in common worlds.
Perhaps in years to come, this geontological learning and speculation will emerge into the next generation through Penelope. I smile when she unearths small findings from the curb, lichen-encrusted tar seal crumbles. Like finding a perfect shell on a storm-swept beach, she clutches her find all the way home to show me. A small offering from the messy entangled ground.