Born in Cairns, in north Queensland, Daniel Boyd is from the Gangalu and Kudjla people.
His recent works reanimate significant historical images and objects through the use of a scrim-like veil of dots. The subject gradually, if only partially, emerges. As the artist explains: ‘My recent work is about the trajectory of information and how it passes back and forth over time and between cultures. Through the movement of information details and facts associated with historical events and objects are lost. The paintings acknowledge this process and are a remembrance of that loss … My use of dots references the idea of the cultural lens and the fact that we all have different points of view’.
The original source for Untitled (2014) is an iconic photograph titled ‘Badgers’ Creek, Aboriginal Station, Coranderrk, fishing scene’ (c.1870-80) by the German photographer Fred Kruger. The tranquil scene in the photograph presents an idyllic image of the Indigenous residents of the station at leisure, enjoying a respite from cultivating the land, evident in the extensive hop-field which appears in the distance. However, as Jane Lydon has argued, ‘Kruger’s tranquil Aboriginal arcadias also worked to disguise the dispossession of the Indigenous people’ and ‘although hop cultivation had [initially] been a commercial success … it became a problem in diverting resources away from basic subsistence and maintenance of the settlement’. The picturesque quality of the image serves to obscure our view of these complex issues that were at play. Similarly, through the combination of partially rendered details and darkened and shrouded areas of paint and charcoal, Boyd’s painting alternately reveals and conceals, highlighting our inability to ever fully see or grasp a complete perspective on the landscape of the past. The work thereby foregrounds the notion that the depiction of Aboriginal people through historic documentary photography does not represent a ‘truth’, but rather a complex construction.
- Artist statement, Art Gallery of New South Wales website, accessed on 6/05/2016, URL: http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/92.2014/.
- Jane Lydon, ‘ Photography, authenticity and Victoria’s Aborigines Protection Act (1886)’ in Settler Colonial Governance in Nineteenth-Century Victoria, (eds. Leigh Boucher and Lynette Russell), Canberra: ANU Press and Aboriginal History Inc., The Australian National University, 2015, pp. 154-56.