9.27.2012

The Image: Dawn Roe, "Goldfield Study (Leaves and Web)"


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This is a fairly recent image; from a project I began while serving as artist-in-residence at The Visual Arts Centre of La Trobe University in Central Victoria, Australia. With this project, my overlapping interests in time, perception and memory started to come together during repeated visits to some of the historic mining sites in the region. This particular image was made in the bushlands of Fryerstown, just off the very short portion of road that almost immediately takes you in and then out of the town. My pictures are made on the periphery of sites, I generally wander around in a 500-yard radius or so, looking and listening, and plunking down the tripod in response to the space from time to time. I had photographed in this exact location a few days earlier, and wanted to go back because of the palpable resonance I noted on my first visit. Its deep history was present both psychically and literally in the form of mineshafts “capped” with crisscrossed twigs and the ravines in the ground that remained from sleuthing. The more recent histories of flooding, drought and fire were simultaneously present, and the landscape was dotted with these bits of bleached out and deformed knobs of woods that appeared like apparitions in the background.

This diptych contains a lot of that, and feels simultaneously very empty and very full. And tenuous as well, somehow. I’ve been working with diptychs and triptychs for a while now – these two panels stretch out this sort of non-instant and prolong the separate moments/glimpses recorded by the camera. It is not uncommon for leaves to catch in a web, but the way they were suspended and isolated between the trees during this very particular time of the afternoon was both mesmerizing and disconcerting. Normally I avoid making photographs in direct sunlight and I had waited as long as I could for the sun to go down on this day, but the light in Australia is its own particular beast. Ultimately it was only because of this light that the phenomena of the floating leaves could be captured, and the surrounding space could go black with just enough fringe light along the edge of the trees to give shape to the sharp, jutting bits and the long lines of web tracing the trunk. Turning back before I left the space to consider one more image of the leaves and web, it was of course too late as the light had shifted down and they no longer floated, but disappeared into the background so perfectly that I almost caught myself in the webs. I walked back to my nearby car and left Fryerstown. This was one of the last photographs I made in the Goldfields.

- Dawn Roe