Based between Australia, her homeland, and London, UK, Aletheia Casey explores Australia’s colonial past and through her photographic practice seeks to challenge Australian official historical narrative, which almost completely silenced the voices and stories of First Australians, and hid the traumas and atrocities inflicted on them. Continually questioning whether she has the right as a white Australian to talk of the pain of others, she often uses overlaying and manipulation of the negatives to express the layeredness of the landscapes, and seeks to confront this ‘deliberate misremembering’ that anthropologist W.E.H. Tanner defined as the Great Australian Silence. By acknowledging and sharing the pain suffered by the First Nations people, Casey hopes her photographs can function as a tool of healing.
The series ‘No Blood Stained the Wattle’ is composed of diptychs pairing the portrait of a person of First Australians descent with the photograph of sites where atrocities were perpetrated against First Tasmanians during the conflicts of the frontiers and the Black War. Casey painted the landscapes’ negatives with ochre, a pigment traditionally used by First Australian women in rituals, and scratched them to make visible and tangible onto the photographic surface the invisible scars left by the atrocities committed.
Aletheia Casey, No Blood Stained the Wattle, 2016-2017. Courtesy of the artist.