An off-site collaboration with Britomart as part of The Slipping Away exhibition at Gus Fisher Gallery, July 6th – September 7th 2019.

Glaciers are melting at an alarming rate. In a study published by the International Journal for Science, ‘Nature’ in April 2019, researchers found that between 1961 and 2016 the world’s non-polar glaciers have lost around 9,000 billion tons of ice and contributed 27 millimetres to rising sea levels.

Bringing this timely and urgent topic into our urban environment is Wellington-based artist Jonathan Kay with his time-based photographic installation Negative Mass. Sited outdoors at Takutai Square, visitors will be able to witness the ongoing creation of large-scale visually captivating artworks over the course of four days. As giant ice blocks melt, soften and evaporate, the water residue will react with the natural light, causing photographic imprints on the linen sheets below. The phrase ‘negative mass’ refers to a quantity of ice that is out of equilibrium, or simply losing more ice mass than it is gaining. A glacier in a sustained negative mass state would be in retreat and shrinking in size.

Utilising the 19th century alternative process of the cyanotype to coat large sheets of linen, Kay will employ this camera less technique to create a photogram which will record images of the ice melting process. Evocative patterns and shades of blue will begin to be visualised, enabling the reaction between light sensitive material and the physical forces; water, ice, and light to be captured. As sheets are exposed to light, the photogram will be recorded on the linen and the artwork created. Following the outdoor event, Negative Mass will be displayed in the atrium of Takutai Square so the public can continue to view the work and discuss the perilous future of glaciers.

Negative Mass aims to prompt a discussion on glacier decline and our natural environment at a time of paramount urgency. As a geological landscape, glaciers are essential in maintaining and regulating our global climate. However, even glaciers cannot curve the increase in global temperature and are melting away as a consequence of human development. The melting of glaciers occurs out of sight for most people, yet the impact of their decline will have monumental effects on human populations, affecting sea levels, marine eco-systems and weather patterns.

Coinciding with Gus Fisher Gallery’s exhibition on oceans and plastic pollution, Kay’s project also takes place during plastic-free July and the legal ban on single use plastic bags in supermarkets.

Mirroring the melting of glaciers in nature, Negative Mass is a poignant reminder of the ever-changing process of a glacier and its rapid decline due to climate change. Its realisation at Takutai Square, next to Auckland’s waterfront and in the context of the city’s recent declaration of a climate change emergency, is incredibly timely. By bringing a normally isolated event of glacier decline into our urban environment, Kay’s project enables every passer-by to witness one of the most threatening events of our lifetime and to heed their support in its prevention.

Key Dates: Meet the artist and watch the ice melt! Takutai Square, July 10th -13th ,10am – 4pm

Artist talk with Jonathan Kay, Takutai Square, Friday July 12, 12.30pm

See the artworks displayed, Takutai Square shopping mall: July 15 – September 7

Public Installation

Offsite | Takutai Square, Britomart

  • Takutai Square, Britomart
  • Auckland 1010