Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Elaine Campaner, Those who Swam, digital print, dimensions variable

As expected, Elaine Campaner's show has garnered critical acclaim. Peter Fay's review says the show is "Not to be missed". Also check out the features on sixtoeight and a review from Bronwyn Coleman.
Elaine talks about her exhibition below: 

Like many people I find it very disturbing that we still celebrate Australia Day on the day of the landing of the first fleet, a day that represents the invasion, colonisation and genocide of one people by another.

Where I live, the celebration of Australia Day and Anzac Day seems to become more crass and lurid every year. Cars appropriating the Southern Cross, Eureka Stockade flag, or displaying “Australia love it or leave it” stickers joined with cars festooned with Australian flags in a mindless celebration. This display represents a need to belong and a need for community, but at the cost of denying the suffering and/or contributions of others with a different story and reality. I believe that we could collectively imagine a more complex and inclusive sense of nationhood and belonging on any other day.

Some of these works are a limited response to the ‘history wars’ of the 1990’s that continue still. I’m not saying anything that hasn’t been said before, yet we still have many politicians who inflame fear and racial prejudice for political ends.

Partly this work is a response to the so called ‘history wars’ and partly it is a response to a certain kind of growing patriotism that is fed by politicians and populist broadcasters who regularly inflame fear and racial prejudice for political ends. Lastly, this work is also a response to reading the stories of the survivors of the SEIVX and similar.

In some of these images I have used souvenirs, which represent the consumption of an idealized experience. What is the bigger picture that these objects are part of? Can they be redeemed in any way? What are our containing or fracturing cultural mythologies? How can we experience these objects as part of a different story?

“Solidarity is not discovered by reflection, but created. It is created by increasing our sensitivity to the particular details of the pain and humiliation of other, unfamiliar sorts of people. Such increased sensitivity makes it more difficult to marginalise people different from ourselves by thinking, 'They do not feel as WE would,' or 'There must always be suffering, so why not let THEM suffer?'”
- Richard Rorty, American Philosopher.

Elaine Campaner.

Citizenship' is in the gallery until the 28th May.