Text by CLOT Magazine
On the Last Afternoon: Disrupted Ecologies and the Work of Joyce Campbell is a major retrospective of the career of a photo-media artist from New Zealand, Joyce Campbell, open in Adam Art Gallery, Wellington until October 20, 2019. Curated by contemporary art historian John C. Welchman, the exhibition showcases the diverse range of Campbell’s work and the versatility of her medium and her subject matters. Exploring a variety of themes from philosophy and politics to environmentalism and science fiction, On the Last Afternoon is the first to examine Campbell’s almost 30-year-long practice, presenting 130 of her works, which she describes as a meditation on the interdependence of physical systems.
Originally from the North Island, Campbell’s adventurous spirit has taken her across the world from the green wilderness of her New Zealand home, across the desert wastelands of California to the icy tundras of Antarctica and into the depth of the oceans to the coral reefs. Profoundly moved by the different landscapes she experienced, Campbell has employed various approaches to capturing the subtlety of their beauty, intricacy, and endurance of life on the brink of peril.
Having dismissed modern photography practices as too regularized and unable to convey the nuance and essence of life, the artist extensively experiments with different methods from photography’s 2 century-long histories, such as wet plate collodions, ambrotypes, daguerreotypes, and gelatin silver photographs. She believes these techniques can communicate more authenticity, intensity, and fullness of the natural phenomena and, at the same time, have the intrinsic capacity to create traces in silver and either adding to the character of the photograph. Studying a variety of microscopic and global subjects through the prism of the different image capture techniques, Campbell aims to illustrate the complex interdependent relationship of ecological, spiritual, and representational systems.