Rockroller – Gitanjali Bhatt

This series of video stills explores intertidal estuaries, investigated through the perspective of an alternative DIY filming contraption. The filming contraption is created from mechanical waste, reflecting debris washed up by the tide and given a new life through an alternative role. Its intervention within the site is driven through performances that roll, drag, push and pull the contraption through the terrain, conducting a raw intervention with the foreshore and the overlooked components that reside there.

Documented by attaching my phone to the apparatus, the idea of an “undesired” wilderness that estuaries convey becomes re-encountered through a novel, casual and improvised perspective. Evocative of childhood encounters with such tidal spaces, the process now becomes conducted through a matured, adult lens, re-exploring the one-dimensionality of wilderness that is cast into an idealised form, a form that overlooks the wilderness that might grow in a gutter, breed in a wasteland, or shelter in a abandoned letterbox.

UK professor and ecologist Timothy Morton writes in his book ‘Dark Ecology‘ that surrounding the notion of a pretty and desirable wilderness – as displayed in nature documentaries – is the marginal surplus that is rendered as the ugly underbelly of wilderness. Morton calls this the “Slimy” where everything that lacks the aesthetics of conventional wilderness exists: death, disease, grime, pests, smells, deformities, weeds, and wastelands. Morton suggests that this other side of nature needs to be addressed as relevant, as the division of the ugly and the pretty renders nature as one-sided; incomplete and subsequently defective.

If the opposite of wilderness is the “Slimy”, then the counterpoint of idealised and romanticised perspectives captured though hi-tech camera gadgets lies upon the these places captured instead through ill-functioning, impractical, ad-hoc contraptions. These images pose an inquiry into spaces between land and sea, and their continuous reform as new spaces through the washing and superfluous remains of the perpetual tide.

I am interested in the estuary space as a fulcrum for adaption, transformation and evolution — a setting where waste, tidal debris and biological matter accumulate and intermingle, reflecting the state of the surrounding social and economic landscape. Ideas surrounding capitalism, the anthropocene, social expectations, and in-betweenness become explored, and the traditional idea of the unpleasant estuarial realm becomes subverted and reconsidered through the rudimental, unorthodox perspective of an unorthodox filming contraption

I am a multidisciplinary artist from Aotearoa New Zealand working with video, performance, text and found-materials. I am interested in forms of underrepresented, transitional terrains within the New Zealand landscape, and the reinvention of novel, absurdly-created filming apparatuses to prospect into these areas, offering a method to re-observe and reconnect to our bypassed, often neglected surroundings. I am currently completing my BFA Honours degree at Whitecliffe College in Auckland, and hopefully undertaking a Masters of Fine Arts course next year. / @gitanjali__bhatt