Publication Details

McLean, I. A. (2007). saltwaterfreshwater. Artlink: Australian contemporary art quarterly, 27 (2), 90.

Additional Publication Information

Artlink covers contemporary art in Australia and through its networking with the national and international scene, provides a context for evaluation and analysis. It regularly produces Special Issues on specific areas, and undertakes major theme-based features.


Aboriginal and settler Australians share the same place, and issues such as water, which this exhibition addresses, are important to each. So it should be no surprise that exhibitions combining Aboriginal and settler art are now commonplace. Yet each remains distinct from the other, despite the increasing tendency of Aboriginal art towards the aestheticised compositions of modernism, and settler art picking up on Aboriginal patterns, rhythms and colours. In this exhibition Richard Woldendorp's aerial photographs are a good example of the latter. While they have that Aboriginal 'look', they lack the intimate tactility of Aboriginal art: they are ethereal, not the imprint of dreaming; they seduce the eyes but are not to be touched, sung and danced. They conjure an abstract sublime beauty through which setters have fashioned a unique spiritual feeling for Aboriginal Australia. As in many such settler images, there is a funereal silence, a longing and loss rather than fullness. No other nation has perfected such an austere primeval vision of itself.

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