NATIVES: THE DANES. 2008
Artist: Charotte Haslund – Christenden / Denmark
In my work I strive to challenge and deconstruct the mechanisms and representations that reflect, form and reinforce stereotypes.
With Natives: The Danes I chose to reverse the colonial gaze. To make ethnic Danes the object of the gaze, in the same way that Western visual representations have stereotyped others. Historically the links between Western colonialism and the invention of photography are well documented. Photography was seen – and all too often still is – as an objective and scientific medium. Its alleged transparency and direct registration of reality often distracts from or disguises the ideological role it plays.
As far as I’m concerned – and I’m not alone – photography has been an obvious tool of colonialism in representing ’primitive’ peoples and all that Western ’civilisation’ has to offer. A virtually Darwinist discourse of cultural – and racial – evolution in which representations, including photography, continue to play a central role in the global media.
Artist: Corrine Silva / United Kingdom
The plate of Africa is moving at a rate of 1cm per year against and underneath the Eurasian plate. In 10 – 15 million years, the Mediterranean Sea will no longer exist.
The landscapes of southern Spain and northern Morocco share many geographical features including climate, flora and fauna, as well as a history of trade, migration and invasion. In 711, Berber tribes straddled the Mediterranean Sea, at its narrowest point only 14 kilometres, to build a Muslim empire. The Muslims were eventually forced out in the 1400s but connections continue; during the last century Spain further colonized northern Morocco. Today many Moroccans provide cheap labour for the agricultural industry in southern Spain, and those that are able invest money in property along the rapidly developing northern Moroccan coast.
To consider these connected and overlapping Mediterranean landscapes I travelled along the northern Moroccan coast from Tangier towards the Algerian border, and made a series of landscape photographs. I then contributed to the shaping of the Spanish landscape by installing three of these images on 8 by 3 metre billboards in specific locations in the region of Murcia.
The billboards reform the Spanish landscape. By photographing my installation, I fix it in the representational space of photography. The photographs turn my physical intervention into a permanent one, elaborating upon the act of placing one landscape inside another – the southern hemisphere into the northern. By visually representing the two as interlinked and interchangeable I create a space to contemplate not only their shared topography but also the complex web of their ongoing connection of trade, mobility and colonisation.
Imported Landscapes forms part of an ambitious project in which I use photography to look at, translate and produce landscapes that lie on the ‘political equator’. Based on a revised geography of the post-9/11 world, a line drawn from left to right across a world map intersects at three key contested desert territories: the Mexico USA frontier, southern Spain and northern Morocco, and Israel/Palestine. This political equator, conceptualised by architect Teddy Cruz, is a destabilisation of historical ways of mapping and colonising: it suggests a different politics of space.