Meg Porteous, @AUCKLAND


The Gift by Meg Porteous


28 September – 25 October 2020


27 Beach Rd, Auckland CBD
114 Newton Rd, Eden Terrace, Auckland
319 New North Rd, Kingsland, Auckland


The Gift is a new photographic work by Meg Porteous, displayed on three digital billboards in central Auckland. It’s a series of 15 images that co-opt the languages of stock photography and public space. Stock photographs are designed with amorphous intent: they are loose, symbolic arrangements applicable to a wide range of commercial uses. They use pantomime and symbolism to illustrate simple questions or concepts. For stock photographers, the market dictates that they produce generalised images.

Online stock photography markets are ordered by ‘tags’. Tags can be content-specific: for example, woman eating salad, baby crawling, or men laughing. Image tags can also be conceptual: teamwork, banking, frustration. The more unremarkable a stock image is, the more tags it will be assigned, and the higher chance it will be circulated. Because the same image cannot be used more than once in a given market, stock image marketplaces are flooded with ceaseless, superficial rearrangements of similar themes.

The Gift aims to subtly disrupt the relentless flow of advertising and media typically displayed on digital billboards. Without text or any contextual information, Porteous’ images speak from within a proliferated image economy, prompting us to consider its effects on us and the shared spaces we inhabit. The Gift explores what makes images profitable and the dynamics of ‘stock’ at play in visual culture at large.


Thumbsucker by Meg Porteous, 2020.

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