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Rosemary Laing
burning Ayer # 6
Large scale 124 x 238 cm (paper size)


one dozen unnatural disasters in the Australian landscape (part 1)
22 October - 15 November 2003

Visually stunning and conceptually nuanced, these images read like storyboards for an unmakeable film, or oddly, as auditions for not only future work, but for the future itself.

Ikea furniture (!) is covered in the red dirt as fine as talcum and the colour of paprika, as though the desert itself had reclaimed these Modernist couches and lamps and armchairs - brumby mound.  A lounge setting, in one of the remotest regions in the world, looks oddly hieratic amongst the Spinifex and sagebrush.

And fire of the group of works in this exhibition: burning Ayer - the fierce joy of fire where dense matter achieves release into other forms - evoking the giving over of the old name Ayers Rock to it traditional name Uluru. Fire that is at the heart of a burning continent.

Just as the familiar and the strange are not opposed in Freud's unheimlich, but include each other, so the artist must try and transform social contradictions into some kind of aesthetic paradox.  And this is what I think Rosemary Laing is doing in this work: art as a kind of reverse homeopathy, using a little bit of poison for the cure, fighting fire with fire.


Adapted from George Alexander's text for "Face Up", Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, 2003.

Rosemary Laing wishes to acknowledge the Warlayirti Artists and Wirrimanu Community, Balgo WA, and Stephen Grant for assistance in the realisation of this work.

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