Shadow Work

Shadow Work is an autoethnographic* cyanotype map of settler impacts and interactions with the ‘Ilparpa Claypans’ – a series of 12 interconnected claypans located on Arrernte land, 13km from the township of Alice Springs. These claypans are experiencing ongoing damage from four wheel driving, illegal dumping and invasive weeks. The map was created from cyanotypes of litter and weeds foraged at the claypans over the summer of 2019-2020, with text from my fieldwork during this time used to create the maps key.

Shadow Work is constructed from fragments of text and cyanotypes. This fragmentation alludes to the incompleteness of my situated knowledge. During the map’s creation, I moved back and forth between my field notes and the cyanotypes, finding connections between text and the symbols that emerged from the cyanotypes. A rusted pipe became a trench carved into the claypans by 4WD’s, twisted wire and a broken O ring became the tree where we laid a friend’s ashes to rest.

As an autoethnographic map, Shadow Work locates my particular experience within a particular settler culture, and examines this cultural position in relation to the particular place of the Ilparpa Claypans, in the particular time of the summer of 2019. I created Shadow Work to work against the invisibility of whiteness and colonialism, by situating my experiences as a settler person within the damage to the Ilparpa Claypans.As an autoethnographic map, Shadow Work locates my particular experience within a particular settler culture, and examines this cultural position in relation to the particular place of the Ilparpa Claypans, in the particular time of the summer of 2019.

Shadow Work is currently touring as part of Groundswell: movements in art and territory. I presented Shadow Workshop, a practical philosophy and cyantyping workshop for the Groundswell public program, to share the process of reflecting on situatedness through material practice

* a form of social research using self reflection to create broader social, cultural and political meanings.

Project Documentation:

Digital Rendering of Map

Scanned Images of Individual Prints