On Friday, Oct. 26, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts will open the exhibition Rosemary Laing: Flight, featuring 12 photographs by a leading contemporary Australian artist. Although Laing has had several monographic surveys in Australia and Europe and is included in the current Venice Biennale, this is the first museum exhibition in the United States devoted exclusively to her work. Organized by Frist Center curator Katie Delmez, Rosemary Laing: Flight will be on view in the Gordon Contemporary Artists Project Gallery through Jan. 27, 2008.

Laing’s images are powerful, symbolic responses to contemporary politics and social developments both in her homeland and abroad. This exhibition focuses on depictions of a woman who appears to defy gravity through flight or suspension, an action that serves as a metaphor for both human aspirations and vulnerability.

Selected from three series ranging in date from 1998 to 2006, the photographs trace an evolution of the notion of flight from a positive emblem of progress and opportunity to a negative indicator of turbulence, destruction and loss of control. Works from her series flight research (1999) show a beautiful bride floating peacefully against a clear sky, a symbol of hope for the new millennium. In bulletproofglass (2002), Laing replaces this feeling of optimism with the sensation of threat and trauma, as the same airborne bride is now seen reeling—wounded and bleeding—against a cloudy view. Laing’s most recent series, weather (2006), furthers this atmosphere of destruction and chaos, with figures and objects swirling madly in nebulous space.   

Since the mid-1990s, Laing’s work has taken the form of large-scale color photographs that are cinematic in their panoramic breadth, brilliant color and dramatic narratives. She plays the role of director as much as artist to produce the images, carefully planning a series for months or even years.

Laing often works closely with a variety of outside collaborators, from pilots to pigeon handlers to stuntpersons. All of the various parts come together during an intense one- to three-day period of performing and shooting photographs. The resulting improbable scenarios, then, are the outcome of extensive research and rehearsal, not digital manipulation as one might assume. 

Related Programs

Friday, Dec. 21
ARTini, 7 p.m.
Meet in Frist Center Grand Lobby
Included with gallery admission

Tonya Clarkson-McCain, Frist Center assistant educator for public programs, will lead a fun, informal conversation about Rosemary Laing: Flight. Complete your evening with music in the Grand Lobby, martinis at the cash bar, and visiting with friends.

Thursday, Jan. 10, 2008
Gallery Talk, 7 p.m.
Meet at the information desk
Free with purchase of gallery admission

Join Katie Delmez, Frist Center curator, for a walk-through tour of the exhibition Rosemary Laing: Flight. Complete your evening with music in the Grand Lobby, martinis at the cash bar and visiting with friends.

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