‘The Landscape of Language’ extends Katherine Hattam’s ongoing engagement with the cultural and personal currencies of language. In her new series, Hattam brings into focus female artists and the significance of knowing their names whilst also responding to the extraordinary story of William Dawes and his relationship with young Eora woman Patyegarang.
Underpinned with a feminist subtext, the presentation examines the gendered ways in which the Western edifice of language has been constructed. Hattam celebrates the power of language, shared or not, in uniting and levelling.
Her characteristic inventory of private objects is sprawled atop the kitchen table in many of the works, announcing her subjectivity. These personal objects mingle with Australian fauna: a black swan, a red kangaroo, wombats, emus, stingrays, witchety grubs and kookaburras, which become haunting symbols of devastation in our present moment of environmental crises, creating a space where the dialectics of self and shared, home and habitat, coalesce with history and the here and now.
Resounding with personal and collective histories, these works consider the formative ways in which language, speech and words solder – or indeed often sever – self with other; the cloudy horizon of history with the clarity of our current moment.