Publication Details

Cockburn, J. P., Papastagerides, N. & Conomos, J.. "Some Thoughts on Autumn Song". Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland. 1999. 18. Autumn Song, The Kythera Narratives. Sydney: Australian Regional Media, 1999.


In late 1998, at the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Roslyn Oxley 9 Gallery, Sydney, Autumn Song, a twenty-three minute video by John Conomos, was shown for the first time. This work explores the theme of ‘threat’ meted out to John Conomos by his parents, when in his childhood he was thought to be indolent. The core of this threat was that Conomos would become a member of the do-nothing culturati, like his geographically distant Uncle Manoli “who never left the Greek island of Kythera” (Conomos “Artists Statement” 2). Yet for John Conomos’ parents, an immigrant family working-to-do-well operating an Australian milk bar, issuing the “Uncle Manoli” threat was always more about the engagement of memory than the calling to notice of a tangible and present reality. At the time, threats of becoming an “Uncle Manoli” provoked in the young John Conomos a distant narrative more than it did the prospect of a mimetic eventuality on reaching adulthood: Autumn Song implies that this response has changed. To negotiate its contents Conomos sets out Autumn Song in four sections following the introduction. These are: “I am at home, nowhere, in no house and in no country”; “The limits of my language”; “ the sense of all senses”; and “The writer, daytime insomniac”. The following thoughts on Conomos’ work are also set out under four sub-headings addressing the works’ concerns, but they do so differently.