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The Camper Project 2017 to present
bespoke camper van

Jade Parks’ The Camper Project could hardly be more appropriately titled. There is a decidedly campy quality to her homemade caravan, which flip-flops between earnestness and humour. On the one hand, it draws attention to the gulf that still separates art-making from handiwork, and testifies to the artist’s resourcefulness in overcoming limited funds for travel and accommodation. On the other hand, it gently burlesques our tourist industry, camper culture, and do-it-yourself ethos. Inside the vehicle, a Siri-like Australian voice provides an exaggeratedly deadpan recitation of a list of instructions – peppered with both imprecisions and absurd details – on how to build a similar camper on a seriously shoestring budget.

Parked behind The Cloud, The Camper Project pings off two other outdoor works: Hikalu Clarke’s Lexus commission and Michael Parekowhai’s The Lighthouse. Clarke’s installation stands a glitzy yang to Parks’ humble yin. Together, they testify to the extent to which individual transportation still dominates both Auckland and New Zealand. Next to Parekowhai’s work, which Anthony Byrt has interpreted, in part, as a reaction against the nationalisation of the ‘foreshore and seabed’ in 2004, Parks’ work might be understood to suggest a break with the Pākehā tradition of assuming and asserting legal ownership over the natural world, embodying instead respectful, temporary residence – dumping not permitted.

Photograph by Tim Wagg.