• Len Lye
  • Peter Peryer
  • Phil Dadson
  • Shona Rapira-Davies
  • Paul Johns
  • Anne Noble
  • Rachel Shearer
  • Janine Randerson
  • Dane Mitchell
  • Sriwhana Spong
  • Raewyn Martyn
  • Alice Bonifant
  • Ngahuia Harrison
  • Sorawit Songsataya

A weather rock sits on a shelf in an empty bach with wooden games and mismatched sets of playing cards. It is stapled inside a dusty plastic envelope with a typewritten piece of paper. A listening stone is placed in the hand of a child. It is told secrets and filled with worries, until it is no longer useful—a coping mechanism past its use by date.

Recent years have witnessed new responses from artists and curators to the uneven experience of living in the Anthropocene. Some artists are re-connecting environments with sensations, others create speculative objects with lives beyond the gallery. Natural histories and human histories are converging, and art is once again taking a central role. Listening Stones Jumping Rocks extends these narratives of mourning and hope to the scale of the cosmos.

Listening Stones Jumping Rocks draws together items from the Victoria University of Wellington Art Collection with key loaned works to offer a re-examination of the boundaries between human and nonhuman, life and living, speculation and imagination. The artists gathered represent a timeline of engagements with the environment. They mourn the sixth great extinction. They ask us to bear witness. They combine ritual with research. They speak back. They remind us of our relationship with both materials and whenua. They turn to the planet. From Len Lye’s chance clap that echoes across millennia to Sorawit Songsataya’s feathered gathering of grief, these works raise questions about what might be seen and heard amidst the material ecologies of the Anthropocene.

Listening Stones Jumping Rocks is curated by Susan Ballard and Sophie Thorn. The exhibition is presented to coincide with the first conference of the Association for the Study of Literature, Environment and Culture (Australia and New Zealand) to be held in Aotearoa: Ngā tohu o te huarere: Conversations beyond human scales. This conference, which is hosted by Te Herenga Waka’s Art History and English programmes and the Centre for Science in Society, will be held between 23 and 26 November 2021.

Susan Ballard is an art writer working in the intersections of art history, critical nonfiction, and the environmental humanities. She has written essays for October, Environmental Humanities, Reading Room, The Anthropocene Review, Sydney Review of Books, Griffith Review, ArtLink, and Eyeline, amongst many others. Her books include Alliances in the Anthropocene: Fire, Plants and People (with geographer Christine Eriksen, Palgrave Pivot, 2020), and 100 Atmospheres: Studies in Scale and Wonder (with the MECO network, Open Humanities Press, 2019). Her latest book is Art and Nature in the Anthropocene: Planetary Aesthetics (Routledge, 2021). She often works in collaboration, from 2011 to 2020 she was director of MECO: the Material Ecologies research network at the University of Wollongong, Australia. She is Associate Professor of Art History Tāhuhu Kōrero Toi at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand. Susan is one of the conveners of Ngā tohu o te huarere: Conversations beyond human scales, the 8th ASLEC-ANZ Conference, Aotearoa 2021.

Sophie Thorn is the Collections Curator at Te Pātaka Toi Adam Art Gallery. She holds a Master of Arts in Art History and Theory from the University of Canterbury and a Diploma in Law and Collections Management through the London Institute of Art Law. She studied Heritage Materials Science through the Physical Sciences department at Te Herenga Waka-–Victoria University of Wellington and at the Chemical Institute of Technology in Prague, Czech Republic. She has held positions at the Canterbury Museum, Experience Wellington, and Te Manawa Museums Trust. She has been with Te Pātaka Toi Adam Art Gallery since 2014.

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  • Victoria University of Wellington
  • Gate 3, Kelburn Parade
  • Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Wellington, 6012