Land Radius 2

Laura Donkers


Laura Donkers is an ecological art professional specialising in strategic community engagement and behaviour-change projects to transform public perception of ecology, sustainability and climate change. She generates new modes of insight through her expanded drawing practice that uses paper, sculpture and digital mediums. Her work seeks to engender understanding of connections between human and nonhuman communities to engage and inform eco-mindfulness, mutuality, and kinship.

Land Radius

Land Radius|2 presents a collaborative audio/visual exchange on rising oceans produced by ecological artist Laura Donkers. A Browning Trail camera was placed, as a proxy human sentinel, amongst the mangrove trees that sit at the edge of the shore on Aotearoa New Zealand’s Hauraki Gulf, aka Tikapa Moana (the Mournful Sea). The imagery captures the ubiquitous tide, natural phenomena (moonlight, gravitational forces, atmospheric conditions, sunlight) and the creatures who dwell there. A blue plastic tube shaped into a circle demarcates the area, drawing our attention to the multiple and often clashing claims made upon this environment. In ‘making’ the video, the artist can only set up the camera and point it in the desired direction; the subsequent gathering of footage relies on a combination of favourable atmospheric conditions (wind causing movement and temperature change) to activate the motion sensor that triggers the trail camera to begin recording. The video is accompanied by a sound work of recorded testimonies from an array of human actors in an unfolding assemblage of verbal perspectives that amplify each contributors’ knowledge, observations, practices, concerns, doubts, fears, and frustrations in relation to established scientific and colonial perspectives about irreversible sea-level rise. This includes teachings from the tüpuna (ancestors) that are voiced through two Māori attestants.

As an ecological artist, Laura Donkers wishes to advance collective ecological responsibility. She does this to inform eco-mindfulness, mutuality, and kinship by documenting societal and ecological exchange as evidence of connection between humans and nonhumans. By calling on others to contribute their knowledge, she attempts to find out what there is ‘to know’, ‘be said’, or ‘shown’ beyond her own perceptual limits. This increases multivocality and fosters pluralism through an ongoing ‘listening-observing-not-knowing’ process, to expose what sits in-between established positions. The resultant audio/visual language evolves in the spaces of conversation, mutual connection, and elemental freedom to reveal a complex image of what extraction, biodiversity loss, and sea-level rise pose for human society in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The voices that you will hear were recorded during the busy working days of each contributor, via Zoom or telephone calls as the only means of communicating during a period of region-wide lockdown due to the Covid-19 outbreak in Auckland (Aug-Nov 2021). These testimonies were initiated through a broad ‘call for contributions’ on the subject of sea-level rise awareness. Openness to dialogic process across different epistemic positions produced a contributor-led approach to defining areas of local concern, ensuring that this collaborative audio/visual exchange was not directed but gathered, making visible new layers of connection. The resulting network of exchange developed its own agency (outside of the artist’s control), as individual contributors, who self-identified as connected to important issues affecting their immediate environment and communities, became personally responsible for voicing their knowledge and experiences. 

The artist sincerely thanks these contributors and all the other voices who connected along the way, as well as Screen Auckland and Wenderholm Regional Parks for their support.

Craig Turvey

Craig Turvey is a sea swimmer, project developer and cultural worker. He describes his experiences of swimming amongst the mangrove forests of the Hauraki Gulf’s shoreline.

Alex Rogers

Alex Rogers is the Executive Officer of the Hauraki Gulf Forum. He shares his knowledge around the politics of protecting and restoring the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park.

Stephen Perry

Stephen Perry is a fine art photographer based in Devonport, Auckland who has a passion for documenting coastal concrete structures along his local beach.

Dr Michael Allis

Dr Michael Allis is a coastal engineer with NIWA (National Institute of Water and Atmosphere) who discusses adaptation responses in communication with communities affected by sea-level rise.

Sharley Haddon (Ngāti Wai)

Sharley Haddon (Ngāti Wai) is a horse woman and Pakiri Beach resident who attests to the impact of sand extraction on the biodiversity of her local beach.

Dr Paula Blackett

Dr Paula Blackett is an environmental social scientist with NIWA (National Institute of Water and Atmosphere) who talks about decision-making on sea-level rise using Serious Games to activate timely adaptation measures with communities.

Bianca Ranson (Ngāti Kahu ki Whaingaroa, Ngāpuhi)

Bianca Ranson (Ngāti Kahu ki Whaingaroa, Ngāpuhi) grew up on Waiheke Island on the Hauraki Gulf. She is founder and director of Potiki Adventures which offers tours and outdoor adventures within the natural environment from a Māori perspective. She is also a founding member of Mauri o te Moana, an organisation established as a collective Māori voice calling for urgent action for the protection of the moana (ocean). She presents a comprehensive Māori overview of the challenges faced by many communities affected by sea-level rise along the Pacific rim.