Landscape Unions 2011-12
This project explores the positioning of power in relation to nature and how this has been influenced by historical colonial perspectives about landscape. Associations and contexts in relation to nature are complicated and mixed up to explore nature as a manifestation of the romantic landscape tradition and how this has created a distancing through the idea of the view.
The context is the historical idea of landscape as dominated by the image of a single human figure surveying 'his' domain, separated from 'his' surroundings, as seen in the work of 19th century German artist Caspar David Fredric. This reflects an idea of nature as an object to be surveyed, used and dominated.
In this work this idea is subverted, nature exerts its right for identification as an entity, containing its own view of itself with rights, a voice and an awarness of its right to exist.
Historically positioned within the romantic landscape tradition, this work spans the historic bridge between a 'Casparesc' image of the single human figure surveying ‘his’ domain, separated from nature, the idea of an immersive relationship with nature and one where nature takes up the mantel and has a voice and consciousness of its own.
This work is designed to provide a shift in the way we relate to and see nature, be it mountains, desert, woodland, bog, marsh etc. and to provide a vehicle for expressing that shift, it offers an idealistic redress of that situation, using a human political relationship mechanism 'the union' as the means to do this.
By creating of a series of ‘Landscape Unions’ - Desert Union, Mountain Union, Bog Union, United Forests and Woodlands etc. the mechanisms of politics are subverted into a symbolic gesture for the transition of power and ownership back to nature.

Here I have used photography and drawing to create objects and murals for installation in different spaces as evidence of this idea, the works consist mainly of paraphernalia and are temporary in nature.
This line of thinking came about during a residency in the outback mining town of Broken Hill NSW Australia, through The Broken Hill Art Exchange in May 2011 and through the work of Austrian / Australian nineteenth century artist Eugen von Guérard, who I came across in the Regional Art Museum of Ballarat Victoria in 2010.

von  Guérard is an important part of the artistic establishment in Australia today though is little known in Europe. He went to Australia to mine gold and ended up playing an important role in the development of the Australian art world, as director of the art school and the art museum in Melbourne for more than 30 years, he was also an important painter in his own right, though his work is little known outside Australia.
By using an existing strategy of the union to create a paradoxical situation to expose the possibility of a perceptual shift in relation to our relationship with nature. In Desert Union the animals, plants, rocks and birds are symbolic representatives for an attempted individualization and actualization of the desert, as it attempts to assert its position or point of view through a ‘re-positioning’ process using the union as a vehicle for realizing this.
Evidence of a colonial interpretation of the desert landscape can be seen through the introduction of viewing points into the desert, for example, a vast open landscape, which is the same in every direction for 100s of kilometers. This exposes a particular colonial interpretation and positioning of the desert landscape, in which the viewer is the central focal point, separated and distanced from nature. This can also be seen in the way the desert has been categorized and mediated for our engagement and entertainment. Documentation of these strategies explore the positioning of the desert and how it is understood.

Sarah Iremonger 2012

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