As part of the Auckland Festival of Photography, Two Rooms presents No Vertical Song by Anne Noble, a signature exhibition by one of New Zealand’s pre-eminent contemporary photographers. Noble’s substantial body of work spans landscape, documentary and installation. Often working in series, she becomes completely immersed in her subject, enabling her to explore the medium and its possibilities in depth.
A result of a newfound passion for beekeeping, Noble has become “preoccupied with learning about bees and understanding the hive, how it functions and its significance for the larger ecosystem that we are a part of.” Her most recent photographic project Song Sting Swarm began in 2013 with an exhibition at Two Rooms. A Senior Fulbright fellowship at Columbia College, Chicago in 2014, allowed her to continue this project. No Vertical Song is the latest installment, showcasing 15 photographic portraits of dead bees, called the Dead Bee Portraits. These works are installed as if populating an imaginary museum of the bee, for a time when the bee no longer exists. The artist’s concern with the worldwide decline of the honeybee results in an exhibition that is a haunting and elegiac reminder of the importance of our relationship to the natural world.
Using a microscope to function as a camera rather than a scientific instrument, Noble fuses art and science to illuminate an issue she cares about deeply. In order to align both aesthetic and scientific modes of observation and representation, Noble invented her own microscopic imaging tools and also worked alongside scientists using advanced electronic scanning machines. In a process that could be regarded as even more alchemic than silver based photography, the portraits were made with a scanning electron microscope – an image making process that employs an electron beam that is stimulated by the element gold. The resulting works involve the use of light from the visible and invisible spectrums to create images that seek to encourage a connection to animals, insects and ecosystems.
Anne Noble is a pioneer of photographic practice in New Zealand. Professor of Fine Arts (Photography) at Massey University Wellington, she was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to photography in 2003, she was made an Arts Foundation Laureate in 2009, and in 2014 received a Senior Fulbright Scholarship. In May 2015, Noble won the prestigious Overseas Photographer Award at the 31st Higashikawa Awards, Hokkaido, Japan.