Civilisation, Photography, Now: AKL, Now, Next panelists

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As part of Artweek Auckland 2020 and coinciding with major exhibition Civilisation, Photography, Now (until 18 October), Auckland Art Gallery is hosting ‘AKL, Now, Next’ – a panel discussion featuring speakers from the diverse industries shaping our future come together to present their version of ‘what next’ for Auckland.

Ahead of ‘AKL, Now, Next’, our panellists select images from Civilisation, Photography, Now that made them reflect on the world around us.

If you would like to view a recording of this panel discussion, you can find it on YouTube here

Caroline Hope, Process Engineer at Beca

Selected work: Edward Burtynsky, Manufacturing #17, Deda Chicken Processing Plant, Dehui City, Jilin Province, China, 2005

‘This image sits in the “Flow” section of the exhibition. The image depicts an infinite flow of food processing, the irony being the workers come across as caged animals themselves. It really makes me think about how ignorant we are as consumers about our "flows"; whether it be our food supply chain or our water and wastewater, electricity or waste flows.

Today, our flows are driven by convenience, efficiency and luxury to meet our ever-increasing demands. The anonymity of the image reinforces that disconnect we have from those who ensure that we have immediate access to resources. We are disillusioned that there are many people involved in carrying out very manual tasks to maintain our flows – our flows are not as sophisticated or advanced as we may think. In fact, they are fragile, just as events such as COVID-19 and the severe drought in Auckland have shown us.’

Lucy Tukua, Indigenous Regenerative Practitioner, Design and Engagement at NativebyNature

Selected work: Jeffrey Milstein, Newark 8, Terminal B, Newark, NJ, from the series Airports, 2016

‘Jeffrey Milstein gives us a snapshot in time, and I see more than planes and a terminal. What I see is a portal, arrival and destination – just as Tāmaki Makaurau is and continues to be. Her remembrance of a thriving village, Tāmaki Makaurau – Tāmaki of a hundred lovers – now a thriving city of 1.7 million. Tāmaki herenga waka; Tāmaki – where waka are tethered. It is dynamic, expansive and influential if we allow our minds to wander beyond the ātea and sight lines of “how big is here.”’

Tim Robinson, Senior Urban Designer at Jasmax

Selected work: Edward Burtynsky, Pivot Irrigation/Suburb, South of Yuma, Arizona, USA, from the series Water, 2011

‘This aerial image presents itself as a detached abstract composition of exurban development on an almost unreal desert landscape. Examination of the detail reveals an extraordinarily brutal living environment, an extreme version of real estate product and land cultivation free of meaningful relationships with the land, ecology, climate, economy or community.

Burtynsky lays bare the components which underpin the notion of a ‘modern’ economy in New Zealand and around the world – commodified housing, extensive transport networks, and extractive water infrastructure. This speaks to me of colonisation, of the exploitation of land and people in service to remote financial interests, and of the fragility of our physical and financial models in the face of ongoing climate breakdown.

Charles Walker, Head of Huri Te Ao The School of Future Environment at AUT

Selected work: Luca Zanier, FIFA I Executive Committee Zurich, from the series Corridors of Power, 2013

‘As an urbanist and a football fan, I’m interested in how sports that have traditionally been key components of neighbourhood identity, community participation and shared emotional experience, have increasingly come under the control of corporate interests. In the wake of COVID-19, the resumption of elite-level football in empty stadia has further highlighted the irrelevance of real-life fans to “the beautiful game” that has become captured by the economics of globalised TV broadcasting contracts. 

Luca Zanier’s 2013 image of the underground FIFA executive bunker evokes a Bond-villain’s lair and captures the shady, remote controlling nature of “the football family.”’