Solo exhibition 'Confronting the shadow', 2020, Gallery Lane Cove, Lane Cove
also: 'The dark side of light', 2019, The Corner Gallery, Stanmore
This series deals with the effect of our actions on society and the environment, when we do not take sufficient responsibility for our behaviour. These effects are caused by the shadows which lie within us, and by extension, on the world, as we knowingly try to bargain our way to the ‘good life’.
There has been a failure of first modernism and then post-modernism in contemporary society, which is tending to result in a descent into fundamentalism and superstition in many parts of the world. It has also created an emphasis on ‘now’, and ‘me’ and ‘my comfort’, combined with a deliberate refusal to act to protect ‘us’ and ‘our future’- even from the potentially devastating consequences of climate change.
We have become accustomed to intrusive surveillance, such as with CCTV, and the monitoring of our everyday interactions, through social media. In fact, we collude in our own control, particularly in our embrace of electronic devices. And in our name governments develop new forms of destruction, and increasingly impersonal means of delivering that destruction, such as drones.
By handing our individual responsibility to others we are refusing to acknowledge that we are complicit in the increasing breakdown of social norms of civility, sharing and tolerance. Normalising the demonization of the ‘other’- at individual, societal and national levels- is detrimental to us all. The treatment of refugees is one example of this, as is conflict fomented between nations, though increasing racism and discrimination is perhaps more evident in everyday life.
When political leaders create scandal to avoid scrutiny, and disruption to avoid action based on reason and forethought, when emotion is valued above reason, and immediate satisfaction above prudence, we are living in the shadow of social decline.
Are citizens then totally powerless against the shadow?
No, because there is always a balance. We incorporate light into shadow through positive action- often in concert with others. So, for every bad deed in the world, there is also potentially a good deed.
By working together, we can bring about change for the better in the world. We need to understand the shadow, so that we can minimise or diffuse it.
Confronting the shadow is an active exploration of the dark side, to find the light; a way to try to understand what life is about; a means to conquer darkness, and then to integrate it with the light.