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What Lies Beneath

I M A G I N E   T H E   L A N D   P R O J E C T

Imagine the Land Project cultivates relationships between people, art and nature through the use of participatory arts practices and impermanent land-based installations. The project is a collaboration between Karma Barnes (New Zealand/Australia),  Croatian/New Zealand artist Ekarasa Doblanovic, art partners and the communities. Projects have included The Contemporary Art Gallery of Rome (Italy, 2019), Venice Arte Laguna Prize (Italy, 2019) Te Uru - West Auckland Regional Gallery (New Zealand 2014, 2017), The Bhoomi Festival (New Delhi, 2015) and The Villa de Leyva Museum (Colombia, 2010).

Imagine the Land Project produces site-specific art installations made from soil pigments and minerals gathered from local terrains and pre-disturbed sites. The projects methodology of community engagement and connection to place explores local stories and collective ontologies of the land. The work addresses critical relationships within the context of the local and global environment and seeks to foster compassionate relationships between the participants and the environment. The work offers participants an opportunity to have a direct tactile, sensory and conceptual response to nature, impermanence and interconnectedness. The soil itself is the medium, catalyst and messenger for the artistic journey.

Over the last 10 years, the Imagine the Land Project has worked collaboratively with over ten thousand people in the production of social practice and environmental art projects.

"Imagine the Land, works to explore and observe intersections of nature and culture by inaugurating place and offering connection to it through experiential play. The collaboration of Karma Barnes and Ekarasa Doblanovic researches, collects and sets up installation projects that employ many types of soil and minerals culled from innumerable locales. Sometimes on their own, but more often in participation with the public, they set in motion open-ended drawing processes that give participants an opportunity to experience personal sensory and conceptual responses to notions of temporality, nature, spirituality and creative play toward a common goal. Each sample of dirt becomes part of a tapestry of pigments, and is significant not only for its colour and texture, but also as a reference to the place from which it originates, as well as for the possible cultural meanings associated with that mineral and its source."

                                                                                                                                                                -Carol Schwarzman- Art Critic

The project is an ambassador for the Terzo Paradiso/ Rebirth-day, a project by participatory arts grandfather Michelangelo Pistoletto and Citadellarte Fondazione an art and creativity laboratory founded by the artist Michelangelo Pistoletto, in Italy. This has seen the projects work presented in a number of high profile art events including Year 1: Earthly Paradise, Louvre, Paris, 2013, The Forum Rebirth Geografias de la transformacion - Havana, Cuba (2017) and the Terzo Paradiso- YARAT Contemporary Art Centre, Baku, Azerbaijan (2018)

Imagine the Land - Tocca la Terra

MACRO Asilo, Museum of Contemporary Art Rome, Italy, 2019

The presence of deep, pedological time surfaces in the participatory arts practice of Imagine the Land Project – the collaborative team comprised of Ekarasa Doblanovic and Karma Barnes. Through their work with locally sourced pigments and soils produced by natural forces over aeons, the artists offer viewers a potent engagement with the palimpsest of Earth’s endless cycles of life and death, creation and destruction. Clay vessels are built by participants young and old, and added into a site-specific installation composed upon the gallery floor. Collaboration and community are key: process builds toward mutual understanding and shared experience in the making whilst embracing impermanence and change. Together, a symbiotic landscape emerges in the gallery – engaging through a palpable
experience of soils and collective ontologies of the earth that we walk upon.

YWCA National Launch - Child Protection Week.

Lismore, NSW, Australia.

In a monumental public art installation project Karma Barnes and Imagine the Land Project worked with the Lismore community and peak the Northern Rivers peak social services providers to produce this stunning piece of collaborative art to mark the launch of National Child Protection Week 2016.


Thousands of women, men and children along with truck loads of regional soils and sands worked together to make this massive art installation on a roundabout in the central business district of the town. The project drew the community together and helped to draw public attention to spreading the message both locally and nationally through the public exhibition, media and the artwork going viral as part of the national campaign. as part of the 'Play Your Part – Stronger Communities; Safer Children campaign

Áine Tyrrell “In This House” Collaboration (2018) NSW, Australia.

The song "In This House" embraces the importance of capturing the essence of the innate stories that are common across both Australia and Ireland. The history of Irish migration to Australia is a long one, with generations of tales told from both sides. Tyrrell engages in a dialogue with the complex history behind many of these tales; stories where others sailed to these shores, stole the land – a land that never invited them in.


In collaboration with Irish-born, New South Wales-based singer-songwriter Áine Tyrrell, Bunyarra Culture Collective and Imagine the Land Project directed by renowned Irish music and documentary maker Dara Munnis.


Te Uru - West Auckland Regional Gallery

Auckland, New Zealand, 2016

One One means soil or earth in Te Reo. The Māori language has over 30 terms for different clay's, soils and gravels.


The One One work uncovers and highlights the rich qualities of the earthen pigments of the Waitakere Ranges and Whau Regions.


The work explores the regions geological richness to reveal the raw material and earthly palimpsest such as its volcanic and igneous materials, different colored clay's, soils, sands and mud's.

What Lies Beneath // Te Uru- West Auckland Regional Gallery

Imagine the Land Project  Auckland New Zealand 2013

’What Lies Beneath’ a commissioned installation by West Auckland Regional Gallery, Lopdell House. The work explored the ecology of the life forms that dwell on the ocean floor and the current environmental threats of deep sea bed mining.


Produced from soils, sands, and minerals from the Waitakere Ranges and the coastal iconic black sands, which carry a story of a journey form conception through the force of the sacred volcanic cone of Mt. Taranaki, which over the millennia eroded down the rivers to the ocean.


Imagine The Land Project hit the streets of Mullumbimby with 20 local creatives from the Northern Rivers to install a eco street artwork made from local soil pigment paints that will travel from the Northern Rivers, NSW, Australia to Rome, Italy.

The artwork was produced at The Imagine the Land workshop where the team of Northern Rivers artists and participants worked with regionally gathered pigments to make paints and inks that were then turned into paste-up artworks for the collaborative street art piece.

The artworks was reproduced and installed in the street art district of Rome as part of a side project of the IML Tocca la Terra exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

La Rosa Park Day Lighting Project 

Collaboration with Auckland City Council & Wai Care

Auckland, New Zealand

The La Rosa Day-lighting Project was commissioned by Auckland City Council to reestablish the natural environment through the removal of storm water drains through day-lighting and riverbed regeneration. Environmental benefits of this project have included the Long Fin Eel’s regaining its migratory pathways.


To mark the compleation of the project  Imagine the Land Project worked with Auckland City Council, WaiCare and local schools to produced an outdoor impermanent art installation based on the waterway journeys of the Tuna Kuwharuwharu (the long-fin eel).

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