OUT OF THE DUSK

Out of the Dusk is artist, Joanna Langford’s, delicate addition to Wellington’s harbour waterfront. Rising from the hefty stone plinth bases gracing the northern edge the Te Papa – Circa Theatre plaza, this series of glass encased tremulous Kafkaesque industrial dreamscapes traverse a realm that lies somewhere between museum artefact, diorama and human generated detritus. Quietly sitting on their stony perches these unpretentious constructions are perhaps most effective at close proximity where their detail can be readily appreciated. In saying that, the glass cases within which they sit are of a large enough scale that their physical presence is readily legible within the broad flat expanse of the plaza and harbour beyond.

Drawing the viewer stealthily in, from a distance the works appear as though four decrepitly skeletal mammoths in miniature are shakily emerging from their basalt sarcophagi …knee joint by knee joint…upon closer inspection the finer detail of the works is revealed, presenting an infrastructural dreamscape of dioramic proportions.

Industrial stanchions and impossibly slender lattice pylons sketchily stretch their way upward beneath and through a suspension of tattered cumulus nimbus of silage plastic. The works are delicate and seemingly fragile, perhaps, on the one hand at odds with the robustness of the harbour against which they are juxtaposed, and yet on the other hand their dioramic explorations depict the very nature of the working harbour. One only has to look across to the jumble of masts, gantries and Wellington’s floating Hikitia crane to guess at the possible inspiration.

Circumnavigating each piece, enjoying the ambient buoyancy of Wellington on a great day, I couldn’t help but marvel at the fact that these pieces simultaneously inspire a lightness of being and furrowing of brow. The artfully composed constructions of wire, LEDs and suspended silage are at once both visually engaging and elegantly fragile, yet they concurrently seem to be making the point that as a society we continue to struggle with an habitual throw-away mentality that sits uncomfortably with our aspiration to grow and prosper in symbiosis with our environment rather than at its expense. -NT