Comments/Context: All of the images in Rosemary Laing's new show are different vantage points of the same puzzling scene: a rolling Australian hillside landscape, where the inverted wooden frame of a one story house looks to have been dropped haphazardly on the crest of a scrubby hill covered in gum trees. Its intrusion on this natural scene is altogether unexpected and alien, as though a giant had flung his plaything away into the weeds.
As a commentary on encroaching suburban sprawl and the destruction of the environment wrought by such expansion, Laing goes beyond simple documentation of ugly tract houses and strip malls and instead opts for an approach that mixes a Land Art style intervention with a more conceptual visual motif. In blue skies and in grey, with sheep and without, this skeleton of a house (built and installed in the land, not a Photoshop trick) clearly doesn't belong in this pastoral view. Laing takes this dissonance one step further by hanging some of the skewed photographs upside down (a la Rodney Graham's trees), creating a dizzying mix of land right side up/house upside down and land upside down/house right side up that keeps the viewer off balance (and I promise, no "down under" puns will be allowed). In a side gallery, she plays with scale even further by blowing one the views up to monumental scale and pasting it on to a curved wall; the small size of the room and the massiveness of the photograph make for a claustrophobic IMAX style effect.
Laing's suite of images seems most like the story of an invasion, an unwanted species plopping down in the middle of nowhere and digging in its stubborn roots. As a metaphor for the changing face of the Australian landscape, it is both simple and surprisingly haunting.
- Review: Sydney Morning Herald (here)
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