Down in the poor country (films), 2017-19

Down in the poor country (films), 2017-19

An archive of 46 single and 7 multi-layered toned gelatin silver film photograms each encapsulated in a laser-engraved, numbered Mylar envelope. Displayed backlit atop light-boxes. Installation dimensions variable. Unique objects.

When Australian poet John Shaw Neilson (1872-1942) wrote “down in the poor country no pauper was I”, he was proclaiming his love for the parched, infertile, half-cleared Mallee country—and his uncertain faith in the redemptive power of love itself. These life-scale shadows cast by flash and moonlight at night on sheets of gelatin silver photographic film (some remade and sandwiched together in the studio) record vegetation in the remote Meringur Flora and Fauna Reserve not far from where Neilson once lived. Like most of the surviving bush in the region, this fragile, untidy tangle of relict dry woodland doesn’t lend itself to naked-eye representation. Rather like the poet, the fragmented chiarascuro of layered, pin-sharp and blurred camera-less imagery indicates riches beyond appearances – riches perpetually veiled at the threshold of revelation – or erasure.

An affiliated project, Down in the poor country (prints) digitally reiterates some of these films.

Preparing hinged scaffold for high level nocturnal shadowgram exposure, Meringur Flora & Fauna Reserve, 2003

Preparing site for ground level nocturnal shadowgram exposure, Meringur Flora & Fauna Reserve, 2003

Preparing scaffold for mid level nocturnal shadowgram exposure, Meringur Flora & Fauna Reserve, 2003

Preparing hinged scaffold for high level nocturnal shadowgram exposure, Meringur Flora & Fauna Reserve, 2003

Preparing hinged scaffold for high level nocturnal shadowgram exposure, Meringur Flora & Fauna Reserve, 2003

High level nocturnal shadowgram exposure, Meringur Flora & Fauna Reserve, 2003

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