Welcome Mat, 2020
digital render of polypropylene brush, NZ pine frame, archival glass
courtesy the artist
Commissioned with support from CREATIVE NEW ZEALAND.
Xander Dixon explores the impulses and contradictions of the national conservation estate. Welcome Mat (2020) references the built environment of conservation biosecurity, currently present on the peripheries of Aotearoa’s Kauri forests. The soil borne fungal disease, Kauri dieback, isslowly killing large swathes of Kauri forest in New Zealand. Spread through the transfer of infected soil, much of the contamination is a result of human intervention through public walking trails.
Whilst rāhui has seen the closure of significant areas of forest, footwear cleaning stations have also been established at the entrance of some walking areas. These require walkers to use scrubbing brushes and grates, with Trigene detergent sprays to sanitise footwear. Presciently and portently, Dixon’s works refer to the management of such a complicated ecological hazard – where cultural and ecological values meet political. More than a rhetorical flourish, these works are neither superficial or didactic; they serve as testament that the future of the forest, and indeed the natural world we inhabit is fragile. How we manage our engagement with them is crucial to their longevity.
– Micheal Do