Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Desert Union at Worlds End

Desert Union at ‘worlds end’, The Guesthouse, Cork 2011 created the opportunity for me to show a new work at a formative stage. Using research material, new and past work, all were put to use in a playful and considered arrangement to express the nature of the development process itself.

Unionizing the desert is symbolic of the possibility of shifting a point of view from one place to another. Here the desert asserts its right for recognition!

This line of thinking came about through a residency in the outback mining town of Broken Hill NSW Australia, at the Broken Hill Art Exchange in May 2011 and by the work of Austrian / Australian nineteenth century artist Eugen von Guérard, which I came across in the Regional Art Museum of Ballarat Victoria in 2010.

von  Guérard is an important part of the historical artistic establishment in Australia today though is little known in Europe. (see also Ruckker / Eugen von Guérard / Returns part of Sub-plots a project for allerArt / Bludenz, Austria)

von Guérard’s European Colonial vision of his new home, as seen in his work, was created through his artistic education in Germany and time spent in Italy and London. The positioning of power and control in relation to the perception of nature, land and the Indigenous Peoples of Australia is particular. Evidence of a colonial interpretation of the desert landscape can be seen in the introduction of viewing points into a vast open landscape, which is the same in every direction for 1000’s of kilometers. This exposes a particular colonial interpretation and positioning of the desert landscape, in which the viewer is the central focal point, separated and distanced from the landscape. This can also be seen in the way the desert has been categorized and mediated for our engagement, understanding, consumption and entertainment. Documentation of these strategies explores the positioning of the desert and how it is understood.

The idea of present and historical trans global collective responsibility is explored here with  good humor through the 'Unionizing' of the desert. Using photography, printing, painting and drawing I developed and produced fake historical and contemporary union paraphernalia (such as union cards, badges, postcards, posters, banners and other paraphernalia) thus creating a fake history for the existence of something, which does not exist, namely the ‘Desert Union’.

By using existing strategies of the local union in Broken Hill to create a paradoxical situation, I am exploring the possibility for a perceptual shift, here the animals, plants, rocks and birds become symbolic representatives for an attempted individualization and self actualization as the desert attempts to assert its position or point of view through a ‘de-positioning’ process using the union as a vehicle for realizing this.

Questions about separation can also be seen by looking at the interface between the desert and the town, where the boundaries are very well defined but also soft, as the desert continually invades in an attempt to reclaim its territory where does the town end and the desert begin?

With thanks to The Guesthouse, Stephen McGlynn, Broken Hill Art Exchange Inc. Desert Knowledge Australia, Outback Business Networks, National Parks Australia and Culture Ireland.

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