My Sister Who Travels is a new group exhibition of six contemporary women artists who use lens-based media currently at group exhibition of six contemporary women artists who use lens-based media currently at The Mosaic Rooms. Each in her own way challenges canonical representations of landscape photography, and their works are presented alongside archival photographs by Esther Van Deman, a Victorian archaeologist, whose work acts as a fulcrum for the project.
Often straying from the conventional tropes of Romanticism, the landscapes presented in this exhibition focus on the Mediterranean as a place that visually articulates concerns of memory, conflict, colonisation, migration, emptiness and expanse. From Corinne Silva’s Moroccan-within-Spanish wastelands in Imported Landscapes (2010), to Paola Yacoub’s invisible remnants of the Lebanese Civil War in Elegiac Landscapes (2001), Ursula Schulz-Dornburg’s photographs of Syria (2010) and Jananne Al Ani’s stills from her aerial film Shadow Sites II (2011), the works evoke layers of imperialism and history, alongside prescient ruin and destruction. In video works by Noor Abed and Halida Boughriet, the picturesque evaporates, as questions of economic and political migration surface through human narratives of movement. These ‘moving photographs’, like their still counterparts, explore political inequalities between the Global North and the Global South.
Esther Van Deman’s near-forensic photographs of bricks, walls and aqueducts from the early twentieth century – taken in Italy, Tunisia and Algeria – anchor the exhibition within a historical dimension. Their juxtaposition with the contemporary work emphasises alternative modes of envisioning landscape. In combination, these historical and contemporary practices create oddly displaced representations of familiar geographies.
Until recently, landscape photography has been traditionally considered a gendered Western genre, co-opted by the masculine eye. By focusing on the different ways in which contemporary women artists engage politically with post-colonial themes in their practices, My Sister Who Travels brings to light unstated narratives of landscape.
My Sister Who Travels is the first exhibition selected from The Mosaic Rooms open call for exhibition proposals from independent curators last year. The curator, Martina Caruso, is an art historian, writer and curator. Caruso lectures in the history and theory of photography.
Photo: Corinne Silva, Imported Landscapes, 2010