Ritual and Memory 2017

Ritual and Memory is a photographic exploration of life in Outback Australia created for the Bulldust to Bitumen Festival Photography Exhibition. The project investigates themes of memory, nostalgia throughout the everyday ritual.  

The Lake 2017

VOID 1. 2017

VOID 2. 2017

VOID 3. 2017

The Void is a key aspect of my work, it features throughout our history as a theme of anxiety, awe and danger. The void was an entirely inhospitable environment for early settlers and still is a place of struggle and desperation today. 

The term ‘outback’ originated as a term for the ‘other’, referring to the unsettled and unexplored areas of Australia. The outback was set as an enemy from the beginning of colonisation. It was constructed as a place to be blamed and feared to create morale in the safety of the ‘civilized’ colonies. Colonisation has left a stain upon the Australian landscape, which continues to affect the consciousness of Australians today.

Marcus Clarke famously describes the ‘weird melancholy’ of the Australian environment, which is created with the context humanity has instilled upon it. The arrival of European presence within Australia brought the beginning of this melancholy and anxiety that is now inherit within the landscape. The dark past that is inherent within the Australian landscape impacts upon its present reception creating this resurfacing anxiety. In The making of Australian Consciousness David Malouf refers to the psychological significance the landscape has to Australian culture and identity stating that the landscape is a setting and also a character. It takes on a personality that is represented throughout our history since early colonization.

These early accounts of struggle, fear and disappointment are a reflection of the realities of adapting to a foreign environment. Roslynn Haynes reiterates the idea of the ‘outback’ as an enemy of sorts and the fear of the silent interior created morale for the settled areas. She states that the most alarming prospect that the inland explorers faced was the void. This apparently empty space was frequently described in terms of enclosure and entrapment.

Untitled from the Threshold series 2015

Vue des Oiseaux 2016

Vue des Oiseaux and Crossing Thresholds and Remaining Unscathed and the untitled selection of threshold images are products of an artist residency carried out at the National Art School, Onslow Storrier residency at Cite Internationale des Arts, Paris in 2015. The works developed during this time are reminiscent of a journal which reflects on of the struggle of making work within alien environments. 

The works are a documentation of the adaption artists experience when being faced with the issue of practising art outside of their cultural boundaries. This adaption brings up issues of practising art within cultural landscapes which they struggle to identify with, creating work which is received internationally and using art practice as a coping mechanism. The works explore the impact of crossing thresholds into alien topography. Bernhard Waldenfels states that ‘thresholds evoke peculiar experiences and first of all experiences of alieness or otherness’. This alienation is where the creative practice takes place as a form of barrier and coping mechanism. By translating and observing through artistic practice the artist is able to work through the uncertainty of taking on the role of ‘the other’.

Vue des Oiseaux's maze like composition traps the gaze within the confines of the work, allowing the eye to move but not rest, much like the experience of residency with its influx of creative inspiration, self doubt, saturation of culture and cultural clashes. 

Crossing Thresholds and Remaining Unscathed, a video loop, glimpses a moment which never ends. Shot in the ruins of a monastery the work aims to evoke sensations of nostalgia and reflection. This is a moment of acceptance of the self doubt and confusion which is inherit within the act of crossing these thresholds.

Crossing Thresholds and Remaining Unscathed 2016

This is Bill 2017

This is Bill is a portrait of a Badland character. Bill is represented as a blank page for the viewer to construct their own narratives upon. Bill is a product of 'the other' he is a representation and a construction of the personification of the Australian Landscape. Refer to the Badlander series below; 

Badlander 2014

'Badlander'  is a a dual screened seven minute video loop projection. The video is a conjunction of broken narratives related to the Australian Badland, created with the visual language of film. The video is supported with four stills; 'Encounter' (50cm x 120cm) , 'The Other' (50cm x 80cm), 'Returned' (50cm x 80cm) and 'Hunting' (50cm x 80cm) , dry-mounted on aluminium.

 

"Sarah Dugan’s 'Badlander' gathers together and plays on the filmic tropes of the so-called gothic sensibility in film, art and literature – the underbelly that belies the evidence of the ordinary. Her vast landscapes and dramatically lit interiors, inhabited by individuals apparently going quietly about their lives, beg comparison with the film-making of David Lynch and Quentin Tarrantino. " – Chris Saines, Director Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art

1/2

 Badlands 2013

'Badlands' is a series of still photographs which explore the historic, cultural and imaginative Australian landscape and its ability to instill agoraphobia. The work looks to the gothic tradition in Australia in particular in cinema. By looking to the visual language of film Badland aims to create still fragments of the narratives that envelop the landscape both historically and imaginatively.  

How to Fulfill a Legacy, 2014

'How to Fulfill a Legacy' investigates the idea of heirlooms and the passing down of objects, narratives, knowledge, land and memories through generations. The series looks to the lingering feelings of nostalgia, guilt, acceptance and obligation that are often associated with what is handed on to us from our previous generations. 

‘How to Fulfill a legacy’ is reflective of the artist’s family and their relationship with their fifth generation family property. It reflects the aesthetic of Dutch still life painting; composing possessions and memories amongst symbolism of cycles of life and death. It features a manipulated satellite image '1996' 97x188cm and three still life photographs 'Letters to Verna', Stealing Daddy's Things' and 'My Fathers Father' 61.5x47cm.

Sarah Dugan, Rossmore

210x60cm, from the series 'Badlands'