The beauty of pests
Pests, invasive species and devastating algae become works of art in Pataka’s newest exhibition, Bio Borders.
Wellington photographer Wayne Barrar has a fascination with species that travel the world and modify their adopted landscapes. More than 30 photographs make up Bio Borders, taken over a five-year period in New Zealand and Britain.
‘‘What I wanted to do with this project is look at the way our landscape is affected by movement of species,’’ Barrar says.
Some of the most visually arresting photos in the show are of didymo, the ‘‘rock snot’’ algae that has plagued South Island rivers after being introduced in about 2004. Dried, white didymo on a rock bed looks like the surface of the moon under Barrar’s lens, and close-up shots of the algae are hypnotic.
‘‘They’re beautiful things but when they’re out of their context they’re ugly things,’’ Barrar says.
Another series in the exhibition documents koi carp, a highly-valued ornamental fish in Europe and Japan that is considered a major pest in New Zealand for the way it churns up muddy river beds. Hundreds are culled each year in the Waikato, but that barely makes a dent in the population, Barrar says.
‘‘They’ve just gone absolutely berserk through these landscapes.’’
Koi carp are such a pest that
Wayne Barrar’s shows a photo from his exhibition at Whitby Lakes were drained in 2007 to fish out and kill all the koi, unfortunately also killing many other fish species.
Pests and diseases are often spread intentionally because they become valued in some way once introduced, Barrar says.
‘‘ That’s the irony of biosecurity. Whatever happens, these things become a commodity,’’ he says.
‘‘It’s a constant battle to stop the spread, because people have a motive to move them.’’
Inquiring mind: Pataka.
Bio Borders is on at Pataka until August 19.9.