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Title

burning Ayer #12

2003


Artist

Rosemary Laing

Australia

1959 -


About

Rosemary Laing’s artistic practice deals with time, transformation, and connection to place. Her work often acts as an intermediary between grand historical narratives and their legacy. Critically re-evaluating our relationship to land through the themes of past and present ownership, Laing’s photographs offer revisionary narratives.

Her 2003 series one dozen unnatural disasters in the Australian landscape, photographed around Balgo in the north-east of Western Australia – land belonging to the Wirrimanu Aboriginal community – directly speaks to these concerns. The conscious choice of location is crucial to the resolution of these works, as the site’s specific history as a Catholic Mission Station from 1933–75 provides an historical context for the exploration of time, transformation, narrative and legacy. Laing reconceives these histories within a contemporary framework.

The burning Ayer sequence, a subset within this series, navigates place and placelessness in relation to land and history. The mound of IKEA-style furniture represents domestic ideals and mass-produced modernity, ironically mirroring Uluru and incongruously placed within the expansive Australian outback. This ‘creation’ of an Australian national icon through symbols of disposability and mass production explores the manner in which we constitute national identities in the instance of significant European influence. However, by burning the furniture mound and recording its destruction, Laing creates a dichotomy that both references the violence associated with colonisation and creates a sense of purging or cleansing in the steps taken to address such injustices. The historical context of this work coincides with the 2002 return of the Anangu name of Uluru to what was previously known as ‘Ayers Rock’. Such ceremonious burning suggests hope for reconciliation and connectivity of people and place.


Details


Date

2003


Media category

Photograph


Materials used

type C photograph


Edition

1/12


Dimensions

80.2 x 147.7 cm image; 100.0 x 168.0 cm sheet; 102.9 x 170.8 x 6.3 cm frame


Signature & date

Signed and dated l.l. verso mount (visible though backing board window), black ink "Rosemary Laing / ... / ... 2003".


Credit

Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program in memory of Henry E Boote 2015


Location

Not on display


Accession number

184.2015


Artist information

Rosemary Laing

Works in the collection

30


Shown in 5 exhibitions

Exhibition history


Referenced in 1 publication

Bibliography