Barrar uses the fracturing lenses of New Zealand's history, the passages of time, the layered languages of environmental anthropology, the traditions of colonial art and the processes of early photography as integral elements of works which are assiduously examining how our land is now. His photographs immediately speak of history, place and New Zealand’s unique and idyllic landscapes however on closer engagement his works reveal a new and ever-changing environment.
These are works thick with meaning and (emotional and intellectual) references and yet while undoubtedly there is much to be gained by having understandings of these deeply important (and very informative) matters, Barrar simply and effectively educates the viewer- we immediately know much more than we realise. He captures us, taking our eyes on a journey back and forth, takes our heads between now and then. He takes us to consequences. In Contact Topographies Wayne Barrar becomes topographer, mapping contemporary and uncharted landscapes, a natural environment forever altered by the human intervention.
The word ‘Contact’ has a double meaning - firstly it describes the physical manipulation of the land by humans and secondly the process of Barrar’s photographic print. As with standard 19th Century photography, a large negative is placed directly onto photographic paper to create the print. This process is becoming increasing scarce as are the materials used to produce these unique and varied images. Over time photographic processes have changed and developed, as has the land which is in a continual state of flux.
Locations throughout New Zealand are captured in time. South From Burnt Bush to Point on Pukaki 2009 shows a picturesque lakeside view, yet the effect of the human hand on the landscape is revealed in the charred bush and deforested hills. Natural elements are divided, grouped and grid-like as paddocks, fences, and perfectly linear rows of plants make their mark on the rural landscape of the Waitaki and Ohau farmland.
In the North Island, a waterfall flows gracefully over a man-made road in Road Crossing in Ruakituri Valley 2010 yet a natural waterfall on Ruapehu has been fenced off, discouraging human interaction.
Wayne’s Barrar’s extensive and focused body of work, shows the New Zealand landscape as beautiful, ever-changing, and continually under the influence of its inhabitants, without the presence of a human form. His technical skill and ability to capture detail, mood and the environment establishes him one of New Zealand’s most significant contemporary photographers.
TO VIEW ALL 18 WORKS IN THE EXHIBITION, PLEASE SEE THE EXHIBITION CATALOGUE