78 cubic meters between the windows and the steel beam, 2017
Spathiphyllum, string, moss, soil, microbes, aluminium
Hardly Working, RM Gallery, Auckland (with Clare Fleming, Deborah Rundle and Wendelien Bakker)
Sharing an interest in labour and the ethics of work within contemporary society, the artists in this exhibition approach the subject from a diversity of perspectives. Mindfulness apps, baby induced exhaustion, prospecting for gold and peace lilies are co-opted to prompt new conversations. Invariably, each artist questions the nature of work and asks, ‘who is working for whom, and on whose terms?’
In her work 78 cubic meters between the windows and the steel beam Shelley uses a 1989 study carried out by NASA that researched the ability of common house plants to remove toxins from air. NASA commissioned the study to find out whether plants could be used to clean the air of the space station, which, due to the fact it is a sealed environment full of plastic materials was retaining high levels of chemicals such as formaldehyde. Peace Lilies were tested along with other plants. In a very unscientific reading, Shelley has used the results obtained in the study to calculate that 1 average sized Peace Lily cleans .75 cub m of air. In this way, the 78 cubic meters of air in the gallery between the steel girder and the windows is cleaned by the 57 plants in the space. The 3D drawing made from white aluminium describes 4 cubic meters and is cleaned by the 5 plants within it, and acts as a key to the calculation. The plants that provide the cleaning service in the gallery have had their root systems wrapped in moss and are well cared for. At the conclusion of the show people were invited to adopt a plant.