17 February 2021 - 26 April 2021
A REAR WINDOW PROJECT
In Joyce Campbell’s Company Stream (2017) ecology and a literary sensibility converge. At first indistinguishable, the camera tracks close-up movement of an eel in cloudy water. A sense of poetry emerges through the knowledge of Campbell’s parallel reading of Julio Cortazar’s From the Observatory (1972) – a prose poem using stars and eels as metaphors for the worlds above and below, that considers the limitations of science to measure realms beyond the rational mind.
Company Stream acknowledges the constraints of scientific observation through a mirky abstraction. The work is also intensely material. Immersed in an unfamiliar aquatic habitat, the work dissolves into poetry and metaphor. The dark skin of the eel reflects filtered light through water and Cortazar’s streaming words echo as an aesthetic backdrop: ‘…an eel that is a star that is an eel that is a star that is an eel…’
Campbell has worked with the giant longfin eel as subject matter in other projects. Te Taniwha, a collaborative project with historian Richard Niania (Ngai Kohatu, Ngati Hinehika Hapu, Ngati Kahungunu), considered the mythology, history and ecology of Te Reinga and the Ruakituri Valley west of Wairoa. Company Stream furthers this interest in the coalescence of ecological and cultural spheres, anchoring us to place and drawing out wider interpretations and experiences of nature.