Mark Adams

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1949

Rapanui [Shag Rock], Opawaho/Heathcote and Otakaro/Avon River Estuary, severely damaged in the earthquake of 22 Feb 2011. Photograph taken 25 August 1988, printed 2011.

Rapanui – Shag Rock, at Sumner – is one of the ancient landmarks of Te Waipounamu, the South Island. It stood for thousands of years in the estuary where the rivers that later came to be known as the Opawaho Heathcote and the Otakaro Avon drain out to sea, a traditional area of mahika kai (food and resource gathering) for Ngāi Tahu Māori. In the February 2011 earthquake, the rock pillar was reduced from its eight-metre stature to a shattered heap less than half that height. (In the black humour characteristic of Christchurch, some locals began referring to it instead as “shag pile”.) In 2011, Mark Adams reprinted a photograph he’d taken of the rock twenty-three years earlier, changing the title to acknowledge the effect of the earthquake. Adams’s photograph shows us the land as the repository of historic memory; the reprinted image stands as a contemporary meditation on loss and change that reaches beyond human history into geological time.

(Now, Then, Next: Time and the Contemporary, 15 June 2019 – 8 March 2020)