Place Works

The body of work shown as The Living Room (RMIT Gallery 2001) continues Bette Misfud's studies of the emotive and emblematic power of landscape imagery. The Living Room represents, in part, the cultural segregation and physical isolation Misfud experiences in rural life as a second-generation migrant. The land is continually transformed by the marking and scarring of our habitation. Thus both land and identity are in a continual state of flux.

The body of work shown as The Living Room (RMIT Gallery 2001) continues my studies of the emotive and emblematic power of landscape imagery. The strength of a landscape picture lies in the mythical or metaphorical qualities created by its composition, colour and perspective. These elements, in two-dimensions, form a frozen, contained and emphasized view that is impossible to locate as such in the real physical world. The most moving landscape photograph is thus always a visual metaphor. The Living Room represents, in part, the cultural segregation and physical isolation I experienced in rural life. As a young second-generation migrant I sought a clear sense of identity. In a sense, the Australian landscape was both familiar and foreign to me. I later realised that my mixed cultural identity is not necessarily locatable within a postcard Australian landscape but may be reflected within a European rural landscape that has been formed on top of the original native one. The land is continually transformed by the marking and scarring of our habitation. Thus both land and identity are in a continual state of flux.

The rural landscapes most familiar to me are like those seen in my photographs – heavily worked areas with few trees. While taking these pictures, I come across vast plains containing a single tree where extensive eucalypt forests once stood. In other places pine tree windbreaks planted along fence lines form the visible boundaries of freehold land. The sparse trees in my photographs could also be seen as being proportionate to the remaining number of Aboriginal people who constitute just two percent of our current population.

We, the migrants and our descendants, stake our claim on the land through imported cultural practices. We are emotionally attached to this country. And we may often identify with pre-conceived mythical landscapes that are forever preserved from the realities of our urban and rural lives.

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