Anne Ferran - Lost to Worlds
Exhibition: 15 July to 15 August, 2009
Anne Ferran works with the residues of Australian colonial history, particularly of women and children, closely examining the often-meagre evidence of their lives. Lost To Worlds 2008 is the culmination of more than a decade's exploration by the artist of the same piece of ground, a paddock on the outskirts of the small village of Ross in central Tasmania. In the mid 19th century this was the site of a female factory or female convict prison, a place of secondary punishment for women who re-offended after arriving in the colony. Today little remains of that past apart from some mounds of earth and scattered stones.
Ferran's practice... focusing on incidental details and overlooked subjects, combining the indexical authority of the photograph with the sensorial resonance of symbolic objects and materials, brings history up against itself, up against its desire to differentiate itself from the now. Ferran's work instead insists on confronting us with the past's tenacious persistence.
The ground, the air catalogue 2008
Ferran's first exhibition of photographs from this site was in 2001. Some of those earlier images are reprised Lost to Worlds 2008, now a body of 30 large photographs digitally printed onto aluminium. The gallery audience effectively sets the work in motion, the play of light across the metal surfaces simultaneously reflecting their passage and clouding their view. The photographs offer occasional glimpses of sky or horizon but for the most part the view is resolutely towards the ground. Presented with few clues or meaningful facts to hold onto, our expectations of photography are confounded in much the same way as the bare ground confounds an understanding of this place's history.
These photographs collectively reflect the ongoing difficulty of grasping and making sense of a ruined and fragmented past. Lost to Worlds 2008 asks the question: how is it possible for a place to release what it knows?
Anne Ferran is one of Australia's foremost photo artists. She has exhibited widely both in Australia and overseas. Her work is held in most major Australian public collections including those at the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, Monash University, Art Gallery of South Australia, Queensland Art Gallery and the Art Gallery of NSW. It is also in the collection of the International Museum of Photography in Rochester, New York. She currently lectures in the Photomedia Studio of Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney.