Located Identity: Finding the Mallee

Dominic Redfern

From within a larger body of research that dealt with how identity is constructed in and through screen spaces, in this exposition I have selected for discussion three works that deal more specifically with the relationship between identity and place. I discuss these three projects so as to chart the shifting ways in which I developed a relationship to a single place, namely the Mallee geo-region of south-eastern Australia. It is a hot, dry region, largely flat and low lying, which for significant periods was inundated by the ocean. This ancient geological history is seen today in the sand dunes and salt lakes that the region contains. It is a place of contested land use, and inappropriate agricultural practices have made it highly susceptible to erosion. In this exposition, I will describe how I was drawn to work in this zone, and how, through the three successive works I discuss, significant shifts occurred in the way I engaged with landscape through the medium of video. In my previous practice I was very often present as a performer on screen. The seven-year arc described in this exposition has seen my own presence slowly fade. My disappearance from the picture, and my shifting relationship to place, are two aspects of the same process, one an expression of the other. The three works discussed contain different approaches to space, place, and landscape, and together they build towards a notion of located identity that sees the landscape subsume the previously present ‘actor’.