Megan Jenkinson - …a tent, pitched in the wilderness

Exhibition: 12 October to 12 November, 2011

Megan Jenkinson

View Portfolio

The solace, or disquiet, we draw from the image of a tent pitched in the wilderness is of a comforting shelter, a safe retreat enhanced, or threatened, by its casual impermanence. It implies temporary respite from the constant movement of the nomad, explorer, or exile; allowing a perspective on the journeys that have passed and imaginings of the wanderings ahead.

A journey to Antarctica a few years ago inspired Jenkinson’s recent travels in Egypt and the Sahara Desert. She sought a return to the contemplative isolation one experiences in vast open spaces. Although climatically these lands are completely different there is a visual and experiential correspondence between them. The visions of non-existent islands that fooled early Antarctic explorers clearly parallel the elusive vistas of distant lakes that taunt the thirsty desert traveller. Vast monotones of snow or sand are distinguished largely by temperature rather than vision. However what is almost entirely absent in Antarctica, yet utterly present in Egypt, are the material remains of civilization.

…a tent, pitched in the wilderness is a personally orientated, non-linear, selective investigation into the history of civilization through the observance of its remains. It is the journey of a cultural traveler wandering through the ages, picking up and abandoning artifacts from an already well-sifted heap. For the tendency, in this age of cultural excess, is to constantly reassess, or test, the value and utility of the past. To the point where we carry fewer and fewer fragments, as we pitch our tent further and further into the wilderness, abandoning nearly everything in favor of the ever-present.

The main material threads linking these works are sand and stone, mediated by time or man. In some, the randomness of shifting sands buries or erodes landscapes and objects; in others, deliberate human efforts mark or over-mark hieroglyphics, reliefs and ostraca. As collage is the core methodology of Jenkinson’s image making, it echoes an inevitable layering, but by deliberate intervention it also forces a dialectic that does not naturally occur.

Jenkinson, who lives in New Zealand, has exhibited nationally and internationally, including the Sydney Biennale (1990), the Sharjah Biennale (1999) and the touring exhibiting The Light Horizon (2008). She began exhibiting her photographic works during the 1980s, including featuring work in the seminal exhibition Photography Now, at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. She has been the recipient of numerous grants and awards and has work held in institutions including the Art Gallery of New South Wales, National Gallery of Australia, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Auckland Art Gallery, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris and The Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Jenkinson is an Associate Professor at the Elam School of Fine Arts, The University of Auckland. She would like to acknowledge the support of the National Institute of Creative Arts and Industries Research Development Fund.