Photographer Aletheia Casey latest work, The Dark Forgetting, explores the history of her homeland, Australia. Here, she writes about the inspiration behind the pictures.
I am Australian, of British and Irish descent. I know little about my family history on my mother’s side. For many Australians, this lack of knowledge about our ancestors is typical.
We have often tried to forget both our own histories and that of the violent formation of our country and build a new life that does not acknowledge the past.
I have lived a large part of my adult life away from Australia, yet it is the only place I will ever consider home.
I constantly long for the Australian light, the weather that changes in a moment, the scorching sun and the bitter wind.
I miss the ferocious Pacific Ocean and the vast wilderness of the landscape, which is still largely uncultivated.
Australia is the only place I have felt I belong.
The land and the history it contains is embedded in my identity.
I grew up in a time when the narrative of Australian history told of the greatness and bravery of British explorers and first settlers, who were seen to have tamed the wild rugged landscape of Australia into a land of wealth and opportunity.
This story helped to unite the blended inhabitants and create a unified nation of new settlers but was fundamental in disempowering and disqualifying the achievements of Aboriginal people.
The anthropologist William Stanner wrote about a culture of “dis-remembering”.
We had honoured “The Great Australian Silence”, he said, not only a silence on the telling of an alternative history but also a silencing of indigenous voices.
This photographic work focuses on the little known massacre sites throughout inland New South Wales.
The Bathurst War was fought after British settlers found a route through the incredibly rugged Blue Mountains to claim the fertile plains beyond.
The indigenous Wiradjuri nation tried to protect their lands and, in 1824, Governor Thomas Brisbane declared martial law.
The images seek to uncover hidden atrocities through the disfigured and manipulated landscapes.
The series considers how Australia’s collective national identity has been informed by a manipulated version of history.
My own manipulation and distortion of the imagery is a part of my personal attempt at coming to terms with the history of the country, leaving my own individual trace within the image and uncovering and revealing a more truthful version of history.
Through scratching and physically manipulating the actual films, the photographs become a reflection of our distorted understanding of history.
Aletheia Casey is speaking about the work at a Tedx event on 12 October in Geneva.