Bartley & Company Art is delighted to present this monumental, dramatic and starkly beautiful new body of work by Joyce Campbell. The large silver gelatin photographic prints abstract imagery of austere urban landscapes and abandoned and sunken cities to advance her ongoing exploration of ‘the brittle city’ and the impact of industrial civilisation on our planet and environment.
Campbell has developed one of the most innovative and unique modes of photographic practice. Her constructed imagery is conceptually and materially mysterious. Spare, stark and even gothic, the images ask us to feel and imagine ideas about system degradation and collapse – ideas given articulation in her book The Brittle City and The Sunken City presented as part of the exhibition. This limited-edition book has been written, designed and printed by Campbell on her own garage press. Fonts in her text are drawn from and pay homage to a 1949 publication, Prisons, by Aldous Huxley on the Italian artist and architect Piranesi, published by the Trianon Press. Campbell also owns a set of Piranesi’s prison etchings, printed from original plates by Trianon for the publication, and cites this work as a significant influence. Three of these prints are included in this exhibition (NFS).
As Piranesi in the mid-18th century drew his imaginary and fantastical prisons, so now Campbell photographs landscapes of the imagination. These are places that suggest the potential fate of humanity, if the impact of ‘the techno-capitalist machine’ is not addressed. They represent, she says, an abstraction of her submerged fears.
The work is also influenced by the large black gestural brush strokes of American abstract expressionist painter Franz Kline who Campbell has long admired. Kline was raised in a coal mining town and both the ‘gigantic’ scale and industrial sensibility and aesthetics of his mark making are resonant for her.
Campbell works across photography, film, video and sculpture. She is an Associate Professor at the University of Auckland Elam School of Fine Arts. She also lectured at various universities in California while living in Los Angeles for a decade. She has exhibited extensively in New Zealand and overseas. Recent highlights include the 2019 survey exhibition On the Last Afternoon; Disrupted Ecologies and the work of Joyce Campbell and the associated publication of the same name; the 2016 Biennale of Sydney; the 2016 Walters Prize finalists exhibition at the Auckland and Christchurch art galleries; Heavenly Bodies, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 2014; Che Mondo: What a World, Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, 2013.