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Australian art

Contemporary art


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day dreams: camera obscura (positive)



Katthy Cavaliere


11 Nov 1972 - 23 Jan 2012


Working across performance, installation and photography, Katthy Cavaliere transformed the everyday and the intimate into symbolically loaded, yet distinctly personal, narratives that unravelled within the public space of the gallery. Often incorporating her personal possessions into her installations, Cavaliere produced work in which the theatrical infiltrated the domestic interior.

During her 2005 survey show at Bathurst Regional Art Gallery Cavaliere took up residence in the cottage once owned by Australian artist Donald Friend and Donald Murray in Hill End. She converted this temporary residence into a camera obscura, using a makeshift lens made out of piping to project an inverted view of the garden onto the darkened interior.

With their haunting and semi-abstract compositions – a fleeting trace of the world enclosed within the camera itself – these mural-like photographs were central to Cavaliere’s engagement with the photographic medium and interest in the peephole as device that both frames and transforms the world as well as her interest the domestic interior as a mutable, magical space. She would return to this technique in 2008 during a second trip to Hill End when she constructed a mobile camera obscura affixed to the back of a flatbed utility so it could traverse the town.

In these camera obscura works an external reality is transcribed onto the landscape of the interior. Public and private space seeps into one another as a poetic reiteration of the underlying concerns of Cavaliere’s practice. Preoccupied with family and childhood narratives and the residual traces they leave on objects, Cavaliere constantly negotiated the edge between the public and the private. As Daniel Mudie Cunningham, the curator of her 2015-16 posthumous retrospective Loved, writes, ‘the story of Katthy’s life is the story of the eye. Fixated on life as if seen through a peephole or lens, Katthy presented the world – her world – as an inverted looking glass, reflecting back a life lived inside out, back to front and upside down’.1

1 Daniel Mudie Cunningham, Katthy Cavaliere brown paper, Sydney in association with Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart. 2016 p. 47


Alternative title

day dreams no. 4 (positive)



Media category


Materials used

camera obscura gelatin silver photograph




126.0 x 212.0 cm

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Gift of the Estate of Katthy Cavaliere 2016


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Katthy Cavaliere

Works in the collection