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Wiradjuri people

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia born 1982

Dhaagun 2015 Place made: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Materials & Technique: photographs, pigment inkjet print Support: Alu panel with Acrylic face up to 6mm Acrylic Float Frame

Dimensions: 84.1 h x 118.9 w mounted 833 h x 1183 w x 35 d mm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 2016
Accession No: NGA 2016.225.1
  • Purchased 2016

Sydney-based artist Nicole Foreshew's photographs engage with the complex relationship of Indigenous culture and mineral excavation. As she has written of the series from which these three photographs come: 'Nothing is more powerful or more ngayirr (sacred) than the relationship between the garraba, marrin (body, the human body) and dhaagun (earth, dirt, ashes, land, soil)'. Foreshew explores the role that excavated material has traditionally played in culture and how Country continues to inform Indigenous experience. The photographs show details of significant geological sites visited by the artist throughout NSW, and also refer to mineral specimens she viewed in various museum collections in NSW. That is, the works reference 'artefacts' from some of Australia's most significant excavations, and engage with the tensions that operate between the ways that these organics extracts are treated within the context of Indigenous ceremony, mining, museum collecting and scientific inquiry.

Photographed in the frontal manner (suggestive of 'objectivity') used by scientific photographers, these highly abstracted images of earth have been facemounted under extremely thick acrylic. The thick acrylic (reflecting the display conventions of museums) gives to the photographs a material presence that, while visually compelling, is also slightly unsettling; this effect is heightened by the fact that the images are hung well away from the wall, appearing to 'float'. Foreshew's images of dhaagun acknowledge the ways that her engagement with it is mediated by a range of external factors; these three photographs present an account of her own negotiation and reconciliation of that experience.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra