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Darren Siwes

Darren Siwes’ haunting nocturnal photographs explore themes of philosophy, history, colonialism and indigenous identity in post-colonial times. Of Aboriginal/Dutch descent, Siwes places himself in his compositions making them in one-sense self-portraits, though it is anonymity that he is exploring. A master of the uncanny, a melancholy mood pervades all of his work, with a clear sense of loss and alienation apparent.

Siwes uses large format cameras and long exposure times, constraining himself to using traditional nineteenth century photographic techniques. The same applies to his selected locations, often Victorian or Edwardian settings showing neo-classical Australian Federation architecture, portraying Australia at a time in its history when the white Australia policy became law. The deserted zones and eerie atmospheres are suggestive of Symbolist paintings from the turn of the twentieth century and the Spirit Photography of these times.

In his latest series Mum, I want to be Brown, Siwes challenges the non-indigenous view of Australia’s history. Through childhood dress-up and make-believe, subtle inversions depict the possibility of an alternate Australian history where indigenous Australians lead the nation and white outsiders look on.

(Darren Siwes 2006)