Fault line [Prologue]
Traversing through misty landscapes to reach the harsh reality of decay in familiar human habitats, Faultline explores events of shared trauma imposed on natural and manmade environments. The series reflects scenes resulting from the distinct impacts of tectonic stress fractures and urban demolition, to lead the viewer on a journey that explores the tension between the landscape, human habitation and acts of nature. The question of habitat, both natural and constructed, echoes through the images as the affect of anxiety and displacement become embedded in the environment itself.
Faultline acts as an arresting prologue to four full chapters in which McFetridge weaves a poignant narrative through the central heartbeat of the human and natural world. Echoing the composition and themes of classical music, the series emerges through a landscape of death, destruction and loss, to a position of optimism at humanity’s potential to redress its current balance with nature. In the final scene of Faultline, the introduction of the female form into the gnarled forest alludes to the personification of the landscape as presented in the Maori myths of McFetridge’s native New Zealand, in particular through the story of Ruaumoko. Torn from his own family and taken into the underworld, Ruaumoko’s anger and fear become the violent rumblings of earthquakes and volcanoes within the topology of the world we live in today.
This series develops in an era when the human race is creating an unprecedented impact upon the surface, structure and atmosphere of the planet that we populate. The evolution of our individual lives and collective ambition for the future means that it is more important than ever to review the relationship between human habitation and the environment that supports it. Through Faultline, McFetridge avoids the confines of simply presenting a warning to us, and instead instinctively re-presents humanity and nature on the same moral, ethical and physical plain to be affected by catastrophic events as one entity. The consideration of consequence and responsibility suggests a narrative of hope, which recognises that whilst change is necessary it is not a battle to be considered in isolation.
Prolouge text by Harriet Cooper.
At 12.51 p.m. on Tuesday 22 February 2011, a magnitude 6.3 earthquake caused severe damage in Christchurch and Lyttelton, killing 185 people and injuring several thousand. The earthquake’s epicentre was near Lyttelton, just 10 km southeast of Christchurch’s central business district. It occurred nearly six months after the 4 September 2010 earthquake. Rebuilding has been a drawn out process. The land damage in some residential areas in the greater Christchurch area was severe. On the ‘flat land’ of the Canterbury plains, there was extensive lateral spreading, severe liquefaction and significant disruption of infrastructure (roads, and freshwater, wastewater and stormwater networks). On the Port Hills, properties were at risk of rock roll, cliff collapse or land slippage that threatened the lives of residents.
New Zealand is one of the most highly insured countries in the world, with almost 90 per cent of home owners insuring their properties. As part of their home insurance cover, all policy holders also have cover for damage to land through the government-owned Earthquake Commission (EQC). This kind of cover is unique to New Zealand.
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All images © Alan McFetridge