Polypropylene brush, NZ pine frame, archival glass
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, is slowly 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
Images: Xander Dixon, Welcome Mat (digital render), 2020, polypropylene brush, NZ pine frame, archival glass. Courtesy the artist.