JourneyS IN THE LIFEWORLD OF STONES (Displacements I-X)

2010 - 2020

Digital CHromogenic prints

116 x 158 cm

ED 5 + 2 AP



scroll down for individual image details and  
brief artist notes on each work

Each of these photographs brings together three images, two historically interwoven images of the same subject and a contextualising landscape, seascape or atmospheric condition.

In the lower right margin of each of these large works is a digitised reproduction of a late 19th or early 20th century gelatin dry-plate negative sourced from the John Marshall Photographic Collection at the British School at Rome Archives. Marshall (1862-1928) was a scholar of ancient sculpture and a dealer of antiquities who, between 1906 and 1928, acted as sole European agent in antiquities to the newly formed Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.

The archival images used here are a selection from the Collection used by Marshall to encourage and facilitate the Met's acquisition of the ancient object represented in them. The central image in each of these works represent the same subject photographed by Hazewinkel in the galleries of the Met in 2017, the contextualising settings were captured by the artist in each object’s country of origin in 2019.

Scroll down for individual images of each work's component imagery and brief artist notes that accompanied the works' original publishing on social media platforms.

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, it’s art funding and advisory body. Archival material courtesy of British School at Rome Archive.

Journeys in the Lifeworld of Stones (displacement I)



It is easy to think of stone as cold, but marble is a stone that quickly takes the warmth of the sun and if we consider that most ancient statues stood about in the landscape, their bodies become softer, somehow more alive in our minds.

Time is of the essence in this photograph, which is the first in a series of ten that I have been developing for about a decade. Here however the meaning of that well-worn cliché is flipped; instead of declaring the need to make haste, here the opposite is true. The time taken to make this work has seeped into it, somehow becoming part of it. There is a lot of waiting in this work, which evokes (among other sensations) the exquisite stillness that comes with being forgotten and the exuberance that comes with resurfacing.

Geological time, archaeological time, oceanic time, good times, bad times, and (to bring it back to the camera) exposure times mingle with the limbo of the archive and the temporal mash ups of museum displays generating the pulse of this work.

In its lower margin is a small, digitised image of a gelatin dry-plate negative (c.1910) that I sourced from an archive in Rome. It represents the badly damaged torso of a young Herakles that was made in Athens around 360 BCE. A disquieting sense of serene brutality emerges at the breaks where the legs, arms and head once joined this torso, they appear to be intentional but we can’t be certain. It is one of a set nine large glass plates  (each 39.5 x 29.7 cm) that represent the torso from different perspectives. These plates were made to encourage the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC to acquire the torso during the period in which new world institutions scrambled for old world cultural legitimacy.

It is paired with the larger central image of the same torso that I made in available light in the galleries at the Met in 2017. Together these images spill out into the light reflecting off an open, wind ruffled sea that I photographed not far from Athens, where the original figure was created some 2300 years earlier.

This sets me thinking about the special bond between materiality of things and place, and of homecomings, of all kinds, and reminds me of the exquisite sensation of cool air rushing into my lungs after swimming underwater for as long and far as possible.

notes on Journeys in the Lifeworld of Stones (displacement II)



Colours, like stones, journey though the lifeworld setting out as minerals and pigments. In archaic times Black Sea Cinnabar provided bright reds, Realgar form the Caucasus supplied glowing oranges, Orpiment from Ephesos offered golden yellows, Lazurite from Afghanistan deep blues, and Chrysocolla from Attica, a forest of greens. Colour in the ancient world, more than today, sent the beholder on imagined journeys; like the songlines of ancient Australia colour paths may have acted as way finders.

Recent research proves that archaic and Greek classical sculpture was brightly painted, debunking the misguided idea, upheld by some white supremacists that their ideologies are legitimised by a lineage to the whiteness of the idealised bodies of classical antiquity. That research tends to be considered in material studies and art historical debates but is also relevant in the important ongoing work of decolonising museum collections.

This body of photographic work doesn’t tackle the issue of museum decolonisation head on; rather it approaches it obliquely by focusing on the more intimate personal consequences of a museologically stimulated collective amnesia toward cultural plunder. It finds resonance with a quote of I. Fokianaki from her article published in Frieze (online) titled How I Lost My Marbles; or, Calling for Colonial Patricide in which she states  “A colonial logic persists in this relationship between the thief and the owner: the purloiner holds power.”

In the margin of this photograph is a digitised dry plate negative (c.1905) from an archive in Rome that contains images created specifically for selling cultural artefacts to museums. The image subject is a 6th c. BCE marble representation of a young woman, it is said to have come from the island of Paros. Elegantly attired in a style originating in the Greek coastal cities of Asia Minor, this young woman pulls her linen tunic tightly across her legs as her short waisted cloak cascades in layered folds. For the larger central image I photographed her as if I were anonymously following her through the galleries at the Met in 2017.

The cave like formations of the landscape she is placed within suggest shelter, a degree of protection, and earthy activities; perhaps a daily search for local minerals, to be made into pigments with which to decorate and personalise simple everyday objects. This young woman stands with great presence and the force of forward movement; she knows where she is headed, perhaps much more clearly than we do.

Journeys in the Lifeworld of Stones (displacement III)



Seafarers will tell you that the horizon is roughly 22 kilometres away, which is about 12 nautical miles. This is true if you are standing on the deck of a ship, but if you are sitting in a life raft, or on a surfboard the horizon is only about 4.5 kilometres away. The distance to our horizon is set by the space that separates our eyes from sea level. This handy formula helps to work it out – square root (height above surface / 0.5736) = distance to horizon. A friend once said to me ‘it’s always better to be just below the horizon, that way people can sense your emergence but can’t focus on you as a target’.

The altitude of the landscape in this photograph is roughly 700 metres above sea level so its horizon is roughly 122 kilometres away; which at the location that I photographed it is half way to the Libyan coast. Considering the fixed gaze of this remarkable portrait and what we know about who it represents sets us thinking about what (in this context) she may be sensing.

Meet Marciana, elder sister of the Roman Emperor Trajan whose reign is best known for territorial expansion, public building works and the development of social welfare systems. Marciana and Trajan were close, she travelled extensively with him on his expansionist campaigns, they were indeed a dynamic duo, but I can’t shake the idea that his social welfare ideas were actually hers.

Unlike the position of this life-sized portrait (c.130 CE) in the galleries of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, here Marciana gazes across the Libyan Sea toward the horizon. The photograph’s archival source is a gelatin silver print from the John Marshall Photographic Collection in Rome which is comprised mostly of images created to promote the acquisition of ancient objects by new world museums. In it we see Marciana wearing an elaborate hairstyle, which is helpful for archaeologists in dating the portrait, but in my portrait of Marciana I am more interested in the precise engraving of her eyes, which to my mind at least, are a way in to knowing her.

As with all good portraits this portrait of Marciana leaves you with a sense of embodied mutuality, the sense that you somehow know her, or better, that you share something with her; and it is this fragile hard to pin down sense of connection that keeps us all connected, especially in difficult times.  With this Journey in the Lifeworld of Stones those of us that have ever gazed out to sea at uncertain horizons might sense, and draw upon, the ongoing spirit of a woman long gone.

Journeys in the Lifeworld of Stones (displacement IV)



During the ten years that this body of work has been in development the working title of this photograph was A Family Group. It resonated with my increasing understanding of the role of family in both contemporary and ancient Greek society, and on a more corporeal level when thinking about my own family, my at times prickly place within it, and how together we have navigated profound losses. The inscriptions that accompanied the family gravestone at the centre of this photograph are missing. Much of this family’s story remains unknown. To be honest we can’t be certain who is mourning whom here. Are the seated and veiled figures parents mourning their daughter? or is she mourning her father, or her mother, or both? An intense solemnity and profound sadness reaches us through this uncertainty, what touches us is the ache of loss.

At the lower right margin of this photograph is a reproduction of the gelatin dry plate negative (c.1911) rescued from the temporal limbo an archive of images generated specifically to support the sale of ancient objects to museums. In it we see the gravestone at the centre of this artwork removed from a cemetery and ready to be trafficked. Acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1911 (from a Greek dealer in Paris), this late classical stele (c. 360 BCE) was originally set up, by a family from Attica, under the Attic sky. It is made of Pentellic marble, which is cut from the earth of Attica. Mt Penteli, on the NE outskirts of contemporary Athens still functions as a marble quarry.

For me there is a special materially triggered togetherness at play here, a form of material semiosis, wherein our capacity for an embodied sensorial knowing emerges from the mingled awareness that this family and the stone that marked the end of their life are of the same place, or better, that they are the same place, they are autochthonic. This is where the word ‘displacement’ (common to the titles of all works in this series) really starts to hum, prompting a cascade of questions concerning the relevance and contemporary function of encyclopaedic museums. What meaning can be made in an experience of this gravestone in the tourist filled galleries of the Met? What social tensions emerge from such hermetic heterocosms? What knowing is lost in displacement?

Journeys in the Lifeworld of Stones (displacement V)



Walking backward through the word paradox we arrive at the Greek ‘para’ meaning ‘contrary to’ and ‘doxa’ meaning ‘opinion’, which has links to ‘dokein’, which means ‘to appear, seem, think’.

The central image of this photograph teems with paradox contextualised within a landscape, or better, atmosphere of uncertainty. The setting could be the beginning or ending of any day, dawn or dusk, without knowing where I captured this image you can’t be sure. This uncertainty is intended to be productive, borrowing (if I may) from Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle in which he proposes that the closer we examine the momentum of nature’s smallest particles (quantum particles) the less we can know of their location (and vice versa) thereby shedding light on a fuzziness that is essential to the very nature of nature.

Here stone is tender, the intimacy between a young girl and her birds is not academically symbolic, it is soul stirring, elevating; anthropocentrism is alien to children. Here creatures of the land and sky merge (formally and conceptually), feeding one another love, trust and tenderness. It seems that in that intimate moment, now fixed in stone, nothing else existed in their fuzzy shared world except for their exquisite exchange; witnessed by a memory in the shape of a fragmented bird.

This is the grave stele of girl who died young, perhaps 8 or 9 years old; it was made between 450 and 440 BCE of local stone, Parian marble which known for it’s fineness and light reflective qualities. At 80 cm in height we might imagine it as a mirror of Dovegirl (as I call her) at her death.  It was ‘found’ on the Greek island of Paros in 1775 and was promptly shipped off to the Isle of Wight (UK) where it became a possession of Sir Richard Worsley of Appuldurcombe House. In the early 1800’s its ownership was transferred to the Earls of Yarborough at Brocklesby Park Lincolnshire (UK) where for the next 100 years or so successive Earls of Yarborough called her theirs. In 1927 under advice of antiquities agent John Marshall, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC acquired her with the aide of the archival image in the lower margin.

All of this ownership and transference has at it essence the act of taking - taking away, taking advantage, taking possession, the list goes on...running counter to the exquisite exchange represented. In the sunlit courtyard of the small, overlooked Archaeological Museum of Paros stands a plaster copy of Dovegirl’s grave stele; if you find yourself on Paros make time to pay her a visit, take a moment to look up into the sky and enjoy the abundant birdsong.

Journeys in the Lifeworld of Stones (displacement VI)


Photographic archives are cool places; archivists tend to be warm people. The climate-controlled world of archives prioritises (in archive speak) the information carrier. In the photographic realm this means the material, or substrate, that supports the image in either negative or positive states. While an archive’s facility prioritises the materiality of photographic artefacts, what drives the most archivists (or so it seems to me) is the image itself and how it may be reimagined.

The archival material at the inception of this body of work is drawn from a little known collection, the John Marshall Photographic Collection that is held in the archives at the British School at Rome. It is modes in scale comprising approximately 2500 gelatin silver prints and roughly 800 gelatin dry plate negatives whose principle subject is Greek and Roman sculpture. John Marshall (1862-1928) was a scholar and a dealer of antiquities and from1906-1928 he was sole European agent to the Met in NYC. The glass negative reproduced in the lower margin of this photograph is one of eleven involved in the MET’s 1926 acquisition of the subject of the central image, a 1st c. CE marble Roman copy of 5th c. BCE Greek bronze original. Seven of the eleven images appear to have been photographed in Marshall’s domestic setting giving us a glimpse into his personal life. The other four were created under controlled lighting conditions in a studio setting by the Roman photographer Cesare Faraglia in 1926, and they have stylistic and homoerotic connections with later works by Robert Mapplethorpe (1946-1989) and Bruce Weber (b.1946).

The time distance between the Greek bronze and the Roman marble copy raises questions about the motivations for making objects and where they are made for. The original bronze was created to commemorate the victory (at games) of a young man and it mostly likely stood outdoors amongst trees in a sanctuary. The Roman version was made to satisfy the voracious Imperial Roman taste for decorative objects to be installed in bathhouses and the villas of the wealthy. So why did I make this photograph? I made it for Marshall who through my ongoing engagement with images he collected and commissioned I feel like I have got to know. We are both gay men and I suspect we may have got along however he lived at a time when his sexuality required codification (his archive is an entanglement of that) and although I don’t agree with his museum politics, I understand and celebrate his desires. Thankfully, in much of the world, the sweaty homoerotic sensuality of this photograph no longer needs disguise.

Journeys in the Lifeworld of Stones (displacement VII)



When they saw that Patroklos had been slain,

that one so strong, so young and so valiant,

Achilles’ horses began to weep;

their immortal spirits enraged

to witness the handiwork of death.

They reared their heads and shook their manes,

scarred the earth with their hooves, and mourned

Patroklos, rendered lifeless, gone,

now useless flesh, his soul no more,

defenceless, never more to breathe,

cast out of life into nothingness.

 

Zeus saw the immortal horses weep,

and was moved. “I acted thoughtlessly

at Peleus’ wedding”, he said,

“better we had never given you as a gift,

unhappy horses! What business did you have there

amid the wretched human race, fate’s diversion?

You who will never die, will never age,

only fleeting woes may plague you. Men though

have drawn you into their own miseries”.

And yet it was for death’s eternal woes

that those immortal horses shed their tears.

 

The Horses of Achilles

C.P. Cavafy

 

Cavafy, Constantine, P. The Canon. Translated by Strathis Haviaras. Athens: Hermes Publishing, 2004. p33

JOURNEYS IN THE LIFEWORLD OF STONES (DISPLACEMENT VIII)

 

Again we stand together before death, or more accurately, before a marker of a life lived, that brightly burned and early ended. Some scholars say that this is the most intact grave marker of its type to have survived the 2550 years since it was created; during the period we call Archaic.

There are remarkable things about this object, for example it stands at almost 4m, but what captures my imagination is that the inscription on its base is written from the personified perspective of the stele itself. Here stone has voice and it speaks with the intimacy of someone close to the family that this young man, Megakles, was a part of - “to dear Me(gakles), on his death, his father and dear mother set me up as a monument.”

Having voice is an important aspect of being a part of something (like a family) and in the language of separation (or diaspora from the Greek diaspeirein: dia - across, speirein- scatter) that being a part of something is expressed most clearly through connected absence, silence.

I am more apart from my family than not, and I’ve recently come to appreciate that that IS my part in my family, which is of diasporic origin. Much of contemporary society is diasporic, increasingly so, even as borders become increasingly brutal, and inhumane; and as a result we collectively become increasingly dependant, reliant on threaded stories of connection, of scattered rhythms, of poetry and tastes, of dances, of rituals, of the smell of plants and of family members we never known, and their experiences that have been transferred to us (often in the form of objects) that inhabit and shape our memories.

Megakles’ stele is indeed a remarkable object and its journey in the lifeworld is one of scattering, of being purchased, traded, bartered, freighted. As it stands today at the Met in NYC it is an assembly of fragments acquired by various means over 40 years (1911-1951), that’s more than twice the number of years that Megakles lived under the Attic sky. Today his material afterlife exists in bits and pieces in various museums and galleries in different cities around the world. His right forearm is in a museum in Athens (I recent went looking for it to no avail), the head of his younger companion (presumably his sister) is somewhere in Berlin and 5 fragments reassembled here now in your hands are on 5th Avenue.

JOURNEYS IN THE LIFEWORLD OF STONES (DISPLACEMENT IX)

 

The figure in this photograph is Eirene the personification of peace. Unusually, we know precisely the year it was made - 375 BCE. We know this because of its sudden appearance on some recently excavated painted vessels and a short text by Pausanias (2ndc. Greek writer) who describes seeing it in the Athens Agora. My point of departure is different. I’m setting out from this personification of peace into the age-old battle for authority between images and words, which in the age of fake news and Photoshop seems relevant.

This story has its roots in conceptions of union between some Olympian heavy hitters. It then descends into a battle between Hermes and Argus which (allegorically speaking) is a conflict between words/language and sight/vision.

 The players: HERA – wife of Zeus, mother of his legitimate children, jealous. ZEUS- husband of Hera, lover of many others, represents authority based on power not morality, a projection of law and justice.

IO – one of Zeus’ many lovers, represents disguise and submissive acceptance. HERMES- accepted illegitimate son of Zeus and Maia (another of Zeus’ lovers) represents language, words, communication. ARGUS- the one hundred eyed giant, represents sight, uninterrupted vision.

 

The plot: Hera gets wind of Zeus’ love for Io and flies into enraged jealousy. Zeus protecting Io from Hera’s wrath transforms Io into a radiant white heifer. Wise to this Hera sends in Argus as her agent to keep an eye (or one hundred ) on Io. Zeus deploys his agent Hermes as assassin to kill Argus. Io flees the messy crime scene and little attention is further payed to her. Hera makes another (kind of creepy) gesture, she removes from dead Argus his multi eyed skin (described by Serres as ‘… a shredded, billowing rag of shut eyelids’) [i] and drapes it on the body of her favourite bird, the flightless peacock which has comes down to us as symbolic of the decorative rather than the meaningful.

There are other of our senses are caught up in this ancient tale as well, and vestiges of the combative linger between them. Soaring in violent triumph Hermes (metaphorically) flies through our skies lyrically playing his flute while the ground bound decorative bird squawks unharmoniously. The defeat is ongoing, it is perpetual, or as Serres puts it “sight gazes without seeing at a world from which information has already fled.” [ii] Make peace, personify it, we need it.


_________________________________________

[i] Serres, Michel The Five Senses. A Philosophy of Mingled Bodies. Translated by Peter Cowley Mararet Sankey. New York:Continuum International Publishing Group, 2008. Originally published in French as Les Cinq Sens, Editions Grasset et Fasquelle,1985. p.5                                                      

[ii] Ibid p.51

JOURNEYS IN THE LIFEWORLD OF STONES (DISPLACEMENT X)

 

Thank you to all of you who have joined me on these journeys, this is the last in this series. I hope you have the opportunity to experience the printed photographs in the flesh someday soon, at scale they do something to your body that’s very different from what they do on screen.

 The material subject of this work is the life-sized head of a young girl that has been removed from its body (circa 100BCE and 100CE). The archival impetus of work is a small gelatin silver print I discovered in a box titled ‘Suspicious -Fakes and Forgeries’ in the John Marshall Photographic Archives at the British School at Rome. The marble head was acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC in 1926, last time I checked there was no provenance listed for it on their website.

In this photograph there is the sense that the young girl is peering through the back of the image into a familiar world; it is as if she is checking to see if it is safe to re enter the beloved space that she remains inextricably a part of.

Pulsing through all the works in this series are the rhythms of certain kind of museum dread and a calling for greater institutional accountability in relation to what I call slow cultural violence. These issues are debated in many languages, political, poetic, legal, scholarly, and these journeys aim to highlight, participate and contribute to that discourse. It seems appropriate then to arrive at X of X in a place of two languages, between which you can find what I have tried to do with the works in this series in my own language.

 From ‘A long Duration of Losses’ F. Sarr and B. Savoy - ‘the extraction and deprivation of cultural heritage and cultural property not only concerns the generation who participates in the plundering as well as those who must suffer through this extraction. It becomes inscribed throughout the long duration of societies, conditioning the flourishing of certain societies while simultaneously continuing to weaken others’ [i]

 

And from C.P.Cavafy – Ionic [ii]

 

Although we destroyed their statues

and ran the gods out of the temples

that doesn’t at all mean that they’ve died.

O land of Ionia, they still love you,

they still hold you dear in their souls.

When the August dawn washes over you

the vigor of their lives enters the air itself.

And on occasion an ethereal young figure,

difficult to discern clearly, passes over

your hillcrests, a swiftness in its stride.


________________________________________

[i] This quotation is drawn from a 2018 report by Senegalese economist Felwine Sarr and French art historian Bénédicte Savoy titled The Restitution of African Cultural Heritage. Towards a New Relational Ethics commissioned by the President of the French Republic Emanuel Macron for the Ministère de la Culture Republique Française. The quotation can be found in the section titled A Long Duration of Losses. p8

[ii] Cavafy, Constantine, P. The Canon. Translated by Strathis Haviaras. Athens: Hermes Publishing, 2004. p62