Fossil - a slow-acting violence

2–19 August 2017
Stephen McLaughlan Gallery, Melbourne
Curator: Felicity Spear


Felicity Spear: Vanitas — 2017 (digital print)

The artists in Fossil – a slow acting violence speculate on the nature of the fossil and the different and unexpected ways this might enter our thinking. Through diverse perspectives and working methods they tease out the ways in which the notion of the fossil is connected to time and place, life and death, technology and the inevitability of change.

Over millennia often violent changes have taken place on Earth. These have gradually been revealed through the fossil record, helping us to build a connected story of the past. In the industrialised world modern day fossils could be regarded as forms of redundant technology, which are frequently the result of runaway consumerism and wastefulness at the high end of the food chain.

What will the fossil record reveal in the future about the changes to the Earth’s biodiversity? What will the fossil record reveal about the accelerating impacts of climate change which will drive increasingly severe humanitarian crises, political instability and conflict, the consequences of which may never be undone? Through the trope of the fossil the images in this exhibition remind us that while we may be seduced by nature’s intensely seductive surfaces, thinly exposed beneath them is a deep pathos embedded in the destructive power of nature, including ‘human nature’


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