Playing with the tension of the depth/surface of the self/image, Laing has cast her subjects into a series showing twelve shades of grief reminiscent of the twelve shades of blonde any one of us can become with the aid of a bottle.
Codes and types are two products of rationalist thinking explored by Rosemary Laing in her exhibition, a dozen useless actions for grieving blondes. The series’ title echoes her earlier work, one dozen unnatural disasters in?the Australian landscape 2003 and 2005, itself an echo of a prior series,?Natural Disasters 1988, explicitly connecting both the stages of her?development as a photo artist and the logic of verbal and visual language?systems. Laing’s gesture of linking words and images across time can be?seen as a counter-move to the separating and distinguishing that occurs?within those systems of meaning, and their necessary stratagems of?coding and typifying.?Laing’s photographic practice has long engaged with the history of ideas,?its concepts, myths and ideologies, and the place of science and?technological interventions – particularly photographic technologies –?within that history. Her latest exhibition is squarely within that trajectory.?The series’ dominant colour is pink, both in the fluid, milky-pink of the?uniform back-drop to the twelve ‘blondes,’ and also in the face, neck and?shoulders of their skin. The horizontal streaks of the background,?conveying high-speed movement – of time, of the world – pass?indifferently through and beyond the blondes, who are transfixed in the?perpetual present of their loss. Pink is universally coded as ‘feminine,’?‘girly,’ ‘infantile’ and ‘soft’. More recently, with the presence of wrist-bands,?lapel ribbons and domestic appliances, it is also code for ‘breast research’?and the ‘science dollar’ to which these pink objects translate. Pink has?acquired a hard edge. ‘Blonde’, coded as ‘female’, is but a short jump to?its misogynist coding, ‘dumb female,’ a coding that evokes its own everexpanding?genre of joke.
Linda Daley/Flash Review 1/2009