Historical Fiction

Colin Batrouney

The works in the exhibition Historical Fiction reference another time in our history when we were concerned with borders, ownership, demarcation and security; the 18th and 19th centuries of colonial expansion. Using ideas borrowed from topographical drawing and botanical illustration my work describes a ‘new world’ at the moment when it ceases to exist, encrypted in images and illustrations.

Art Exhibition previously on in Flinders Lane precinct, Victoria, Australia.
From Thursday 08 November 2007 to Saturday 24 November 2007

Fig. 23, Of thunder of spring ever DISTANT mountains image

Published by Gallery 101 on Friday 19 October 2007.
Contact the publisher.

This work extends the notion put forward by Susan Sontag in her seminal essay On Photography that: ‘To photograph is to appropriate the thing photographed. It means putting oneself into a certain relation to the world that feels like knowledge – and therefore, like power’. Apart from providing a visual record, 18th and 19th century illustrations from ‘new worlds’ were read as inventories of acquisition and ownership, captioned in the universally recognised ‘dead’ language of Latin.

The works in Historical Fiction are captioned with lines from TS Eliot’s 20th century masterpiece, The Waste Land. The lines from the poem are juxtaposed with images of dead leaves, twigs, shells and seeds to set up a disjunctive tension between what is ‘read’ and what is ‘seen’. I have always been concerned that within the context of photography, in existential terms the subject ceases to ‘be’ altogether. By photographing it, the subject is superceded by an object (the photograph)—easier to code, easier to manipulate, easier to capture, easier to corrupt, easier to subjugate and easier to neutralise.


Gallery 101
Ground Level, 101 Collins St