Gathering Shadows: landscape, photography and the ecological gaze

Minds in the Cave: insect imagery as metaphors for place and loss

Syzygy: gazing at shadows, darkly

Marking The Stranger

Honest weights, square dealings

Killing of Gondwana

The secrets of the Snowy

Gathering Shadows: landscape, photography and the ecological gaze

Exegesis component of practice-led research project undertaken through the School of Art, RMIT University, Melbourne, awarded as PhD, 2015

The practice-led art research project Gathering Shadows investigated the ‘tragic’ visual poetics of a speculative ‘ecological gaze’ at a time of ecological crisis. Employing a unique methodology of cameraless outdoor nocturnal photography of live invertebrates, the work replaces the distancing objectification of lens-based capture. I investigate a symbolic order in which a deeply indexical process reveals an insect umwelten of uncanny intimacy and semiotic presence in which insect abjection operates as an index of place and x-ray like shadows allude to the multiple ‘tragedies’ of the human and non-human ecological predicament…

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Minds in the Cave: insect imagery as metaphors for place and loss

Conference paper by Harry Nankin delivered at Monash University in 2012, peer-reviewed and published in AJE Journal, 2013

In 1987 I authored a photographic book celebrating the Australian Alps. Its opening paragraph read, in part:

Cool, rolling and serene, the High Country…is an assemblage of landforms and living things unlike any other. This crumpled arc of upland, the southeastern elbow of the continent…contains…the only extensive alpine and sub-alpine environments on the Australian mainland…One climbs…and finds…

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Syzygy: gazing at shadows, darkly

Paper by Harry Nankin presented at ‘Transdiscipinary imaging’ conference, Sydney, 2010, peer-reviewed and published 2011

At first sight Lake Tyrrell in the semi-arid Victorian Mallee is unprepossessing. Yet, this stark, seasonally-filled saltpan surrounded by eroding sand hills and grassy plains is associated with a pre-colonial story evoking a vision apparent only when the land itself is unseen–at night.

Nineteenth century squatter and amateur ethnographer William Edward Stanbridge reported that the local “Boorong tribe” who knew “more of astronomy than any others” (Stanbridge,1861: 301) were specialists in studying the night sky…

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Marking The Stranger

Catalogue essay by Harry Nankin about exhibitions by Shirley Cass at Red Gallery, Fitzroy & Jewish Museum of Australia, St Kilda, 2006

Theodore Adorno spoke for many of his own generation when he declared that ‘After Auschwitz, to write a poem is barbaric.’ Like Adorno, traumatized, angry, a refugee, those few survivors who have attended to their experience publicly have preferred to address it head on through politics or scholarship rather than the apparent obscenity of pleasure gained from making or witnessing art about those events.

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Honest weights, square dealings

Essay by Harry Nankin published in The Age newspaper, April 6, 1996 reviewing books Walker Evans: a biography by Belinda Rathbone and Yosemite: Ansel Adams by Andrea Stillman & Michael Fischer

Born mere months apart on opposite sides of turn-of-the-century America, the parallel lives of Walker Evans and Ansel Adams were contrary to almost every way bar two: their fundamental visual instincts and profound impact on photography. Early in their careers,

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Killing of Gondwana

Essay by Harry Nankin published in The Age newspaper, December 17, 1994 reviewing book The Future Eaters: An ecological history of the Australian lands and people by Tim Flannery

Less than two generations ago most people saw nature in Australia as inexhaustible, simple, resilient, safe and unaffected by human beings before the First Fleet. That our environment is now commonly perceived as finite, complex, fragile and endangered is in no small measure due to the wide dissemination of natural history knowledge by writers such as Judith Wright,

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