John Hurrell, 23rd December, 2014
Boreham's Spatial Interiors, EyeContact Review of State Space
Billboards Project. Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts, Manukau, New Zealand
15th November 2014 to 15th February 2015
This suite of billboards is situated on a concrete block wall outside the Warehouse, across Reeves Road from the Te Tuhi front entrance. Caryline Boreham’s photographs are based on an earlier series State Space (2012), which documented in a very austere pristine fashion, various institutions like hospitals and prisons, without depicting the people who inhabit or use them. Now she has modified some of those images with Photoshop, adding the occasional tinted wall or floor plane to cover over graffiti and ‘bodily’ traces. They are less raw now, becoming more clinical and more ‘cosmetically’ delicate with added greys and pinks, though they remain essentially about space.
Of the three images, the one of the office in Archives New Zealand is particularly compelling. Pressed up against the walls are thick rows of wooden filing boxes stacked up five high. They are mesmerising because their labels have odd L-shaped clusters of stickers repeated over and over. The asymmetry of the lopsided classification listings fascinates; there seem to be different components jammed together, each based on a different variety of information.
Manukau depicts a soap-coloured cell where Boreham has created a horizon line by having the camera positioned parallel with the top edge of a panel dividing the glass door, and level with central seams running through the walls. There is an odd beauty to this normally disturbing room with its narrow benches and oddly softened, blunted edges. The image being horizontally bisected creates a symmetrical tension within the flatness of the wall and paper, but at odds with the angles of the documented room.
In Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (taken at Auckland airport’s arrivals hall for overseas travellers) with its spindly-legged screens and meandering queue barriers, copper- coloured railings and stands, mixed round and square, irregularly positioned ceiling lights, we see the deepest space of all. It has lino-like pink added to the grey floor, and with its suspended panel ceiling and elegant grey columns, plays on receding two point perspective while exuding a businesslike functionality.
I’m not sure whether having these particular images blown up and placed on this public hoarding wall works. The depicted space seems too huge and a little awkward outdoors - it’s unwieldy - whereas having the prints much smaller and framed on a conventional gallery wall would probably be more effective. Having them inside architecture with walls, ceiling and floor in close proximity would be more in tune with the content of these images. Being enlarged and outside dissipates their compositional effectiveness.