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Australian art


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Raquel Ormella’s work is characteristically enlivened by a strongly felt political undercurrent and softened by a sense of humility and humanity. One of her strengths as an artist lies in her ability to present provocative ideas through deceptively simple means.

‘Going back/Volver’ was originally created for the ‘Trans versa’ exhibition held in Santiago 2006 (a Chilean-Australasian artist exchange project). This, larger, completed, body of work featured in the Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art’s ‘Contemporary Australia: optimism’ (2008/9). The work reflects upon migrant experience and identity, spring-boarding off the question unique to migrants, that of ‘going back’- to visit or return to one’s country of origin. Through a series of captioned photographs, Ormella presents the experience of immigration, the arrivals, departures and returns, of forty four members of the Chilean community in Australia, including herself and her mother Alison. Ormella however, has never returned.

Each photograph is a re-take of an earlier snapshot or slide, now held by one of the people depicted within the image. The effect of looking at each picture which is personalised by the glimpse of the hand, recalls the intimacy of one’s own family photograph album thereby drawing the viewer into the place of another, not as a voyeur but as one who understands the experience represented. Further, the effect of looking at the total series reveals the rhythms of arrivals and departures, the memories and their residue.

The meaning of time, memory and place and how these can be represented within the photographic picture plane is perfectly realised in this series.



printed 2008

Media category


Materials used

44 digital prints




32 photographs: each 21.0 x 27.0 cm sheet; 12 photographs: each 27.0 x 21.0 cm sheet

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Purchased with funds provided by the Photography Collection Benefactors' Program 2009


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Raquel Ormella

Works in the collection


Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history

Referenced in 2 publications


Craft Victoria, Crossing south: the south project: platform in Latin America, 2006, 22 (illus.). reproduction of numbers 8, 17, 19, 30, 31, 37

M. Kavanagh, Contemporary Australia: optimism, ‘Raquel Ormella: a shift in perspective’, pg.170-173, 2008, 170-173 (illus.). reproduction of numbers 19, 10, 13, 27