The beauty of pests

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

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.

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