Zachariah Fenn

Broken Hill Town Façade, 256 Argent Street and roaming events around Broken Hill

Public Category

Landmark: Broken Hill

During a residency at the Broken Hill Art Exchange in September 2015 I devised a durational performance artwork that embodied my nomadic art practice, exhibited in the public sphere. “Landmark: Broken Hill” is a body of work heavily informed by the natural processes of time, daylight and the movement of the sun. Coinciding with the Spring Equinox on September 23, I mapped the suns “solar Arch” by the simple process of following my shadow. Commencing at the northern border of the city at sunrise (5:52 am), my walking route formulated a large west-facing arch spanning around the entire breadth of Broken Hill, concluding at the southern end at sunset (5:52 pm). The 12-kilometre walk produced a kind of intangible “landmark’, referencing the endurance works of Richard Long and the nomadic trait to ‘leave no trace’. In essence, the walk generated a continuous line drawing (or intangible ‘landmark), mapping my ambulation through the outskirts of Broken Hill, made visible only via a GPS tracking device. A satellite image displays the path created over the day long walk. A text accompanies the map, outlining key details, times and experiences of the process-driven artwork.

‘Landmark: Broken Hill’, enters into a dialogue concerning the cities’ shifting cultural landscape over recent decades, from mining (a once thriving industry), to more creative pursuits and tourism. Over the duration of the walk, I pushed a small trolley- a simple assemblage combining a food-packaging crate attached to a pram frame sourced from a recycling yard. In the crate, I collected hundreds of samples of the dirt and soil, known for containing high levels of lead and other minerals. As I ventured through the quiet suburban streets continually adding to the stockpile of rocks and earth, it began to form into a “miniature hill,” within the parameters of the crate.

The sample of earth forms a symbolic replica of the ‘mullock heap’ landmark running through the centre of town, or the original “Broken Hill” itself, discovered by Charles Sturt. Through nomadic processes of accumulation, I collected samples of earth throughout the journey, culminating in a nomadic sculpture, a “Broken Hill”, responding to the cities’ shifting geographic and cultural landscape. Over the journey, I observed the towns’ ability to respond to economic and industrial austerity. Just as the accumulated mound of rocks and earth in my trolley would expand and settle as the trolley wheeled over rough surfaces – so too must the city adapt and respond to cultural developments.  

Art Form: Performance, Video and photographic documentation, sculptural object.

Medium: Framed Photographs, video projection & mineral samples collected from around Broken Hill
Dimensions: Variable 2 Framed works: 70cm x 89cm and 70cmx45cm Projection: 2m x 2.5m. Sculptural Object: 1m cubed, Projection: 2m x 2.5m

Sculptural: 1m cubed approximately.

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