Marea Reed, 'Tis almost fairy time, 2023
A Version of the World is an ode to the humanity, insight and transcendence of classic literature. Drawing its title from a quote by the celebrated novelist Salman Rushdie, the exhibition explores the limitless potential of the printed word to transport the mind and spirit to new depths and dimensions.
Each photographic tableaux takes as its point of departure a poem, play or novel from the 16th-20th centuries. Reed’s sources share many of the qualities of the Romantic era –– the desire for beauty, meaning and the presence of the divine or the mystical in nature. Threaded through all is an evocation of an age-old dichotomy –– in which a reverence for the physical and metaphysical power of the natural world exists beside humanity’s frailty and craving for imposed order.
Living on Gadigal/Bidjigal land, Marea Reed’s imagery lingers on the threshold between what is seen and what is felt. Her open-ended narratives, in settings suggestive of the Arcadian or the boundless, are metaphors for ‘fernweh’ – a longing to be far away – that is at once personal, universal, and an abiding feature of settler-colonial Australian art and literature. Cognisant of the quicksilver nature of physical and metaphysical worlds, her approach centres on the sublime – its ideas of interconnectedness, evanescence, transmutation, of tantalising imminence and infinite horizons.
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