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In Bioy Casares’ text, I would like to propose, we can locate something of prelude to this exhibition. Like the text, the show attends to the island as an ‘othered’ site – as a space outside and apart, as it is so routinely diagnosed within the colonial narrative – by presenting the island as a fantasy; as pure simulation; as the projected image of ‘other’. But then it poses a counter proposition, asking how the colonial narrative can be inverted and seen from the other side. What Bioy Casares’ text anticipates in this exhibition is not simply a neat allegory. It is an understanding of the slipperiness of photography – the way the show positions photography as artifice; as deception; as partial hallucination. This exhibition delivers us images – moving images, static images, abstract images, images made purely of light, images made by incisions in Perspex – but then just as swiftly takes them away. Forms are phantom-like and indistinct. We are made to question what it is we are looking at. These works are somewhat impenetrable by design. This isn’t photography as exposure or direct document. It is photography as a means of concealment. It is photography that holds its subject at bay – at a slight remove or at a distance. We look at these images from the same vantage point that we look at islands. From afar; from a position of unfamiliarity. We look at them as we would a mirage. As in The Invention of Morel, the image islands we are surrounded by here, in the gallery, are inhabited by ghosts. These are the kind of ghosts that populate all photographs, insofar as a photograph – any photograph – is an index and a record of time past. Because that’s the thing about photography – it belongs to ghosts. All photographs exist in a similar state to the people trapped in a cinematic loop in Bioy Casares’ text. Within the frame of a photograph – within its circumference (its island-like edge) – a projected and immaterial image of the world is preserved for posterity. A world that we look at but not from. A world we see through the optics of the ‘other’ or ‘over there’ – for once it has been taken, a photographed moment can never be re-lived. It becomes like an island itself. Inaccessible, unfamiliar.

Profile for ANU School of Art & Design Gallery

Vanishing Point  

Vanishing Point Consuelo Cavaniglia, Ellen Dahl, Yvette Hamilton, Taloi Havini & Salote Tawale Main Gallery 16 May - 14 June 2019

Vanishing Point  

Vanishing Point Consuelo Cavaniglia, Ellen Dahl, Yvette Hamilton, Taloi Havini & Salote Tawale Main Gallery 16 May - 14 June 2019

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