From Stella Rosa McDonald
What does it mean to be a stranger in a strange land, orphaned from home and country? Some histories would have it that the Australian landscape was so unwelcoming, its spirit so vindictive, that it would disappear men, women and children in an afternoon and so vast and uninhabited that home was wherever you stuck your tent pole. For some, Australia represented the last stop before the end of the world, if not the end itself. So goes the epic myth of Terra Nullius.
Australian-Bangladeshi artist Omar Chowdhury, driven by the parallels between his own experience as an immigrant and those of early settlers and both drawn to and troubled by the notion of the ‘exotic’ and ‘empty’ bush, sought to immerse himself in that fabled landscape. The exhibition Means,extends Chowdhury’s use of expanded documentary to include an eclectic suite of sculptures, photographs, fictional texts, sound works and experimental prints made after hetravelled through the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, across the Great Dividing Range to Mount Kosciusko and then south toward the Victorian gold towns. This path through the Eastern states, rich with the history of foreign settlement and immigrant industry, is the subject of Chowdhury’s Means, while the literary and artistic legacy of colonial and contemporary art, literature and memoir contributes to his subtle postmortem of cultural and artistic representation. The strength of Chowdhury’s work lies not only in his superior cinematic and photographic depiction of landscape but in his insight and sensitivity to the flaws and contradictions inherent in these human stories. Means is running concurrently with Chowdhury’s Ways, a look at contemporary life and spirituality in Bangladesh, at4A Centre for Contemporary Art.
Until July 20th
Alaska Projects, Kings Cross
Pic: Omar Chowdhury, Untitled (brush photo #1), 2014, Inkjet on archival paper, 150cm x 100cm. Courtesy of the artist and Alaska Projects.