Exposing the Photographer



Whereas the Made For Europe series looks at various aspects of the Western gaze using ‘native’ subjects in order to interrogate our Western view of the Other, in order to open up discussion about stereotypes relating not only to the people(s) themselves but also our assumptions and desires in relation to authenticity of dress, custom and geography; the series of self-portraits made in 2000 - Lucky Us, Out of Austria, Gone Native and The Big Game - approaches the thematic configuration from the angle of the artist herself in various (dis)guises - the photographer, the colonialist and the heiress of Western thought structures which also include racism and nationalism. Formally, the series would include From the Wonderhouse (2002) and, I would argue, Wild Places (2001) which, although it is not a self portrait in the normal sense of the word, investigates not only the historical connections in the artist’s work but explicitly includes her (both of us as artists) in the list.



Lucky Us is arguably the simplest of the images. It shows us a small black servant pulling on a white glove belonging to a white-veiled woman in an emblematic colonial helmet. He does his duty as she looks away from the camera involved in her own private world and oblivious of his. He is, of course, a children’s toy and it does not require us to be particularly adept to make appropriate associations. One might also speculate on how children would integrate the puppet into their imagiNative games since he is but one of thousands of industrially produced clones. The photograph also seems to have an element of the kind of nostalgia fashionable window-dressers are fond of exploiting to give atmosphere to the products for sale, re-cycling images divorced from their meaning, the common fate of all old photographs.