Kate van der Drift‘s new exhibition Sweet and Sour is a continuation of the artist’s exploration into the fragile ecology and transformation of the Hauraki Plains.
Due to colonisation and industrialisation, the Hauraki Plains have been entirely transformed from forested low-lying wetland to a drained and intensively cultivated landscape with an uncertain future.
The artist’s investigation into the topography of the Hauraki Plains had originally manifested itself into the imagery of the physical farmland and the Piako River in van der Drift’s prior series of photographs. Currently, Sweet and Sour see the artist capture the physical makeup of the land and water burying unexposed film negatives into the Piako River for a period of four weeks. Over this time, the algae, bacteria, pollution, and sediment in the water reacted with the film, producing clouds of vivid alchemical reactions. The end result is a camera-less image; abstract and expansive, brilliantly coloured photographs emulating celestial bodies and the beyond.
This body of work is motivated by the artist’s desire to create a physical image of the chemical makeup of the river and sits within a rich, historical tradition of camera-less artists working with light-sensitive material in dialogue with time – embracing chance and trusting nature’s capacity for creation.