Mireille Astore

Apparitions

Photomedia Installation

Images

Memory and ritual are my concern in Apparitions: a series of photographs produced following a residency at the Broken Hill Regional Gallery in 2005.

The photographs are ocular conversations which set out to question what it means to be a child in an outback Australian town in the sixties, while at the same time mirroring childhoods lived elsewhere.

Upon encountering Broken Hill photographer Ralph O’Connor’s carefully preserved negatives of a 1963 “Holy Communion,” I found myself experiencing a daydream induced by the memory of looking into my own Lebanese family’s black and white Communion photographs. These inverted images became mediators between the memory of myself in a white robe in Beirut and the feeling of kinship with a community in an Australian town I knew very little about.

I was struck then by the universality of rituals and the bonds that take place through them. I felt as if history, immortalised through these carefully preserved images, was reinventing itself and offering me the chance to visit the present with a fresh outlook.

As if solarized, I digitally displaced the photographs of the children from their homely environment and onto the ochre landscape of outback Australia at dusk. In so doing, I transformed historical photographs into scenes of whispers, shadows and remembrances. The landscape photographed at twilight seems also to accentuate the fragility of the children’s bodies. Spectre-like, they shimmer before our very eyes from within lush and mysterious settings. Although reminding me of the brevity of life, they are contaminated with the seductive power of an aesthetic that is both exquisite and uncompromising. 

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