To celebrate the Auckland Festival of Photography Two Rooms presents a survey of work by Megan Jenkinson. The exhibition encompasses new series of photo-collage works that originated from her experience as the Antartic Artist Fellow in 2005.
Jenkinson found herself in the company of scientists, whose research inspired an increasing awareness of the temporal nature of our existence. This, coupled with her reaction to the vast, minimal emptiness of the Antarctic environment itself, has inspired a range of work that she considers to be a post-romantic view of our engagement with nature.
Jenkinson’s work was first introduced to Two Rooms during the group exhibition Afterimage. This exhibition explored the artist’s relationship to the mysteries of the optical phenomena. In the Antarctic, freezing temperatures and low humidity produce dancing columns of light of various hues known as auroras. In her series Atmospheric Optics, Jenkinson recreates these magnificent spectral performances using billowing folds of fabric in rich greens pinks and purple superimposed over the crystal clear dry valleys of the Antarctic.
The works are as transient as the lights displays themselves. Using a lenticluar lens, where the image is laminated on to a finely ridged plastic, the lights flicker and shimmer as the viewer approaches the work, then totally disappear. Equally as ephemeral are the Certain Islands. Early explorers to the Antarctic waters charted landforms only to be revealed later as mirages. Jenkinson scans fragments of mountains and bare rock outcrops of Antarctica into seascapes to create her own mythical landforms.
Her Ocean Worlds and Weight of Water series also explore other permutations of the world where raised sea levels and floods create new orders. Submerged cities come into view, just visible below the water. Venice and even Auckland have finally succumbed to the ocean. Strange jellyfish like creatures inhabit watery worlds where the icons of our civilization; cathedrals, mosques and modernist buildings, now occupy the ocean floor.
Past and future combine. The flood is both a biblical story and a future prophesy of apocalyptic proportions. These works extend the boundaries of photography to beyond the purely visual and merge ideas and narrative with an extraordinary technique.
Jenkinson has been exhibiting since 1983 and her work has been included in many international exhibitions: The Victoria and Albert Museum, London; the Bibliothèque Nationale and the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; and the National Gallery, Canberra. Public collections include: the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa; the Sarjeant Gallery, Wanganui, the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth; the Dunedin Public Art Gallery; and the Auckland Art Gallery; and the Aigantighe Art Gallery, Timaru.