Well, there’s no hiding it now; the exhibition of our Prato work is on tonight so, for those who can’t make it, here’s what it’s amounted to for your’s truly. (Actually, it’s not all).
In the Reset Modernity exhibition that he recently curated, Bruno Latour speculated that humanity needs a path by which we could escape the irresistible magnetism of two forces that seem to govern our thinking. He characterizes these forces as ‘the terre’ and ‘the globe’. The terre is the urge to return to or preserve the familiar, traditional and local; conservatism. The globe is the utopian, essentially imaginary (because we have never been there and don’t really know what it is) appeal of progress and globalism. Latour suggests the use of a third ‘attractant’ ‘the earth’ which we could use to break the tension between the terre and the globe that sucks our thinking, policy making, reactions etc into these polar extremes. ‘The earth’ is essentially a simple thing – it is authenticity; so I think what he is saying is that we should be looking to regain a sense of authenticity. Tuscany Untitled and Bridge are my response to this challenge. They are an attempt to re-envisage the cultural world we inhabit from another perspective, perhaps a more authentic, more holistic perspective; but at the very least, from my perspective.
The world we inhabit is much bigger than the world of humanity. It has a presence and force within it that demand expression, and that humanity should hear, but our ability to do this is clouded by our anthropocentric perspective. Tuscany Untitled peels back the layers of ideas we have projected onto the landscape. The photocollage is a fusion of Tasmanian and Tuscan landscapes that seem to refer to one another like infinite mirrors. When settlers came to Tasmania, they saw in its pencil pines, tors and lakes, landscapes like those in renaissance paintings. They responded by bestowing classical names on it, names that are beautiful and evocative and stimulate the imagination, but also cloud it. When I came from Tasmania to Europe, I saw pencil pines and meadows that reminded me of Tasmania, but a vision of Tasmania that had been shaped by the influence of this classicism.
The cross stands as a representative of our anthropocentric preconceptions, but before it stands the pademelon, who challenges the viewer to look differently at the world. The name suggests the peeling back of the titles we have bestowed on places and things, that give us preconceptions that may be obscuring, deceptive or misleading.
Bridge continues with the themes introduced in Tuscany Untitled. Pontormo’s Mary and Elizabeth and their attendants (or alter-egos; from the Visitation) have been teleported to a lane way in contemporary Prato. They reference how we recycle iconic images and stories, placing them in different settings to suit our needs and to preserve or reinvigorate their imaginative and metaphorical power. In my version of this story, Elizabeth’s attendant has become a pademelon, with her ears trained on the past and present, and her eyes gazing outward with the same intensity as her precursor. Like Mary and Elizabeth, she has her own attendants in the lizard and the (perhaps) green serpent draped over the shoulder of Mary’s accompagnatrice. Her gaze bridges the space between us and herself, and between time, place, species and meaning. Perhaps she is a reminder that women were once regarded similarly to animals, and that our perception of reality can change when we challenge ourselves.
Tuscany Untitled and Bridge are a reminder that there are other worlds, other gazes, other ways of knowing. Maybe knowing these ways, perceiving things differently, can bring us closer to authenticity, truth and, if nothing else, the earth.