Museum of Contemporary Art, gift of Greg Woolley, 2008
type C photograph
H 140.8 W 230 D 6.5cm
Rosemary Laing is a leading Australian photo-media artist. Her works capture dramatic, frequently staged, scenarios as cinematic, hyper-real images. Through juxtaposition, Laing creates poetic relationships that are metaphorical and allusive rather than literal. bulletproofglass #1 is characteristic of her approach in its combination of panoramic vistas with paradoxical events through use of real-time performance and physical installation rather than digital manipulation.
Laing characteristically works in series that explore a particular idea or proposition. Her interest in flight developed during the mid 1990s after she moved to a studio under the flight path of Sydney airport. Both the series flight research (1998–99) and bulletproofglass (2002) were produced on location in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, although in many of these works the landscape itself is not even visible; the actual location is light, insubstantial air. In the series flight research there is a sense of freedom in the images, a joyous expression of a woman wearing an antique bridal gown floating, unhindered by gravity, whilst in bulletproofglass the female protagonist reels, injured by a gunshot wound to the heart. In bulletproofglass #1 she appears to be stalled in shock by the violent act, a visible wound stains her dress and, gazing upwards, her expression reveals the beginnings of comprehension. In subsequent images the adjustments of the body and head in each frame explore a trajectory of emotions as the woman plummets against a glorious skyline – her dreams of utopian transcendence ruined.
Characteristically there were numerous concerns that fed into bulletproofglass. If flight research was a reflection of the aspirations for the new millennium and hopes for a fresh start, then bulletproofglass was a response to the broken promises and sobering developments over the ensuing period. In particular this series follows on from the failure of the Republican referendum in Australia, the refusal of the Federal Government to say sorry to the indigenous Aboriginal peoples, and more broadly from the escalation of international political tensions and their ensuing outcomes.
Flight sits in our consciousness as a kind of fantasy or dream. It is a metaphorical notion. Children dream of flying. It is a very escapist notion to be able to fly. Superheroes fly. Then you’ve got Yves Klein’s Leap into the void. I was interested in unfettering the body from the mechanics of flight
Vivienne Webb (curator), The Unquiet Landscapes of Rosemary Laing, (exhibition catalogue and texts), Museum of Contemporary Art, 2005
Quotation: Rosemary Laing, in Deborah Hart, Tales of the Unexpected: aspects of Contemporary Australian Art, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2002
Flight sits in our consciousness as a kind of fantasy or dream. It is a metaphorical notion. Children dream of flying. It is a very escapist notion to be able to fly.
Rosemary Laing, 2002
Rosemary Laing is a photo-based artist. Her projects are most often created in relation to cultural and/or historically resonant locations throughout Australia. With interventions undertaken in situ or through the use of choreographed performance work, she engages with the politics of place and contemporary culture.Learn more