Publisher Note

The unquiet landscapes of Rosemary Laing presents her series, realized between 1995 and 2004: Greenwork, Flight research, Groundspeed and Bulletproof glass. The nature of place, landscape and habitation, and the relationship between technology, time and speed, are central tenets of Rosemary Laing’s photographic practice. Since the 1980s Laing has searched for ways to represent these multifarious terms, often suspending contradictory elements – such as speed and stasis or nature and culture – in the one image in order to conceptualize nuances between physical and theoretical realms. Such awareness stems from her interest in the continuing impact of Australia’s colonial history, including the significance of the landscape tradition of art in this country. Photography is a challenging means of thinking through some of these social, cultural and visual issues because of its own history and relationship to ‘reality’. Yet as a still medium it enables Laing to paradoxically represent the graceful imperceptibility of flight, speed and motion, and to consider the effects of technology with nature.
‘Greenwork’ marks an important stage in the development of Laing’s oeuvre. The series comprises two aspects: ‘greenwork’ of hyper-green digitally enhanced landscapes, and ‘greenwork TL’ (meaning time-lapse) of airport tarmacs and the trace of jet stream against vivid skies, images that delineate the ‘in-between’ spaces where flight and travel are performed. In ‘greenwork TL’ Laing negotiates the invisibility of motion. The landscape is ruptured by ‘fluid abstractions of flight’, as the artist calls them, where speed is unseen and an evaporating and evolving ‘residue’.1 Here, in the accumulation of tyre marks on the tarmac, the midair deposits of jet stream and the empty space of the airport, the dynamics of stasis and flux are revealed, figuring the landscape from both a real and metaphorical point of view.

In 2000 Laing had her real breakthrough with the series Flight research. A vast majority of Laing's artworks relate strongly to cultural and historical places throughout Australia. With staged sceneries, Laing involves the politics of particular locations as well as elements of current and modern culture.
Laing became interested in flight in 1994, when she moved to a studio in Leichardt, Sydney which was directly under the flight path. Her growing annoyance with the sounds from planes passing overhead fueled her interest in the ideas of air travel, which in turn was the inspiration for her Flight Research series.
"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" -Rosemary Laing

The series Groundspeed is a mix between an installation piece and photography. Laing visited the eucalyptus forests in South Australia and laid down carpet on the forest floor. With assistance Laing was able to produce multiple landscape images of the scene.

Bulletproof glass is a series of images shot on location in the Blue Mountains, featuring women dressed in vintage wedding dresses with gunshot wounds to the chest whilst 'floating' in the sky. Some specific negative ideas that fed into this series include the unsuccessful Republican referendum in Australia, and the blatant refusal by the Government to apologize to the Aboriginal peoples of Australia.

These series were representative of Laing’s artistic practice: they portrayed an artist consistently concerned with the intersection between identity and place. Laing’s work questions her own agency in representing the inherently contested space of the Australian land, recognising her position as a white Australian expounding post-colonial truths in a mode of representation that historically has been used to deny the Aboriginal history of Australia.
Her hauntingly beautiful images create poetic and resonant relationships between the landscape and changing notions of place, creating a powerful commentary on society and culture.

Published on the occasion of the 2005 exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sidney


The Unquiet Landscape

by Rosemary Laing

Release Place Sydney, Australia
Edition 1st edition
Release Date 2005
Artist: Rosemary Laing
ISBN-13: 1875632985
Subform Photobook
Topics Nature, Society, Technology
Methods Photography
Language English
Format Softcover
Dimensions 24.0 × 18.1 cm
Pages 80