Another two works from my research project were selected to be part of a curated group exhibition at Gaffa Gallery in Sydney, New South Wales in April this year. The exhibition was curated by the incredibly talented Melbourne-based artist/writer/curator, Christine McFetridge and featured the work of Victoria-based artists Ariel Cameron, Isabella Capezio, Coby Baker, Dianna Wells, Hoda Afshar, Jessie DiBlasi, Kate Robertson, Katrin Koenning, Linsey Gosper, Rebecca Nadjowski and Zoë Croggon.
Curator Christine McFetridge's essay:
"Symbols of strength, power and triumph are often feminine. In Greek mythology, the winged goddess, Nike, represented victory in times of peaceful competition and unrest. She is closely aligned with Athena, the goddess of wisdom and war. Among others; African, Baltic, Celtic, Egyptian and Hindu mythologies also contain figures of female victory, and indeed nothing typifies the Antipodean woman more than strength. She exists in a harsh climate; exposed to the weather and the reality of her isolation to the rest of the world.
However, traditionally, the Western ideal of success for a woman is measured by her beauty and in her ability to raise children, keep a happy husband, and a tidy home. Women who veered from this trajectory were at risk of being scorned. Increasingly, from the nineteenth century, women began to be celebrated for their successes - though often acquiring the habits of successful men to be assimilated into positions of social power. Arguably, women still struggle for recognition of their achievements if the achievements themselves are outside the superficial.
This exhibition, Victory, seeks to highlight women photographers working in Victoria. Moving through landscape and man-made environments, the artists included accomplish great feats; holding their clenched fists high, charging forward. Sometimes cheeky, sometimes a little more serious; the work places women at the central point of focus. These artists are adventurers, conquering their surrounds and championing ideas. Gracefully this woman moves, dances, leaps; like Helen Garner, Ponch Hawkes, and Joan Kirner, these artists take ownership of their craft sounding a barbaric yawp."
Given the title of the exhibition, the curator and I decided to include the following two works from my research into the monumentalisation of Captain Cook in the Pacific. Both photographs were made in the Hawaiian Islands in 2012. The first, commemorates Cook’s landing on the island of Kaua‘i in January 1778. Over time, this monument, made from lava rock, has been moved off its axis by large surf and the bronze plaque vandalised and removed so that no trace of Cook remains at the site. The second, marks the spot where Captain Cook was killed on 14 February 1779. This particular memorial, in the island of Hawai‘i's Kealakekua Bay, is only visible at low tide and when I saw it in 2012 it had been moved off its base by the constant jostling of the ocean’s waves. This action of nature reclaiming and decolonising the landscape is a phenomenon I have observed at many of the monuments I have documented. It seems that the natural elements tend to slowly and victoriously degrade the man-made monuments over time.