Zeitgeist Exhibition - #Pampas

Well blogging is obviously not a strong point of mine, seems I haven't posted since last year. Anyhoo, I am making art, but rather slowly.

The piece this post refers to is Pampas 2019 which consists of Polaroid images of instagram posts sitting on a teak shelf.

The project I have been worked on this year is 'Zeitgeist', a German word meaning spirit of the time. So you could look at it as a work representing things as they are now, the spirit of now, or you could look at it as the spirit of a time. As I'm interested in man's relationship with nature and I usually start with a walk for inspiration, I began to think of how plants have different values to people and how that can be due to the fashion of the time. There's a Pampas grass not far from my home, Pampas grass was a very popular plant in the 1970s, planted on the front lawns of so many houses.

Pampas grass was imported to the UK from South America, it was shipped across the world as the fashion spread. It became an invasive species, taking up space of indigenous plants but offering very little in the way of nutritional value to the insects and animals of the area. It's now banned in some countries, it cannot be propagated, to eradicate it it's burned. To me it feels like another example of humans using and abusing nature. Interfering in the natural balance of the world and then regretting it.

It's just a plant, it doesn't know it's fashionable or not, that it's invasive, good or bad, that's the human interpretation of it, the human value placed upon it.

The first thing I did was take some digital images of the Pampas near to me, but how to make the images really interesting? I initially went for black and white photos but having printed my ideas to a crit group started to rethink that as a default.  Then I began to think about maybe another way of presenting the photos, or even another medium, something more related to the 1970s.  That's when I thought of my little (or rather chunky) Instax camera.  Built upon the technology of the 70s but contemporary.  I took a film's worth of photos of the Pampas, looking and man made features in the landscape and how they sit next to it.

I did quite a bit of research on Pampas and from the articles and videos I watched I gathered significant words used in relation to it.  From positive descriptions on wedding sites to the negative narrative associated with an invasive species which needs to be halted, eradicated.  I made an A4 document of them, cut up the page and then put them onto the white section of my Instax prints.  It became almost a poem, from positive to negative.

I decided to go the whole hog and buy a 1970s Polaroid SX-70 camera.  I took some photos of Pampas in Battle and Hastings but had some difficulties with the Polaroid Originals film.  I put off taking more photos for a while and then realised the season for Pampas grass in bloom was over, all that was left were sticks or scraggy weathered old blooms.

I started to look at the Instagram posts #pampas, then decided that because there were lots of lovely photos of Pampas in bloom I could use those.  I worked out a way to get the instagram posts up on screen, put my camera on a tripod and take Polaroid's.  A 70s plant, shown on modern media, photographed using 70s technology.