James Tylor: From An Untouched Landscape
The removal of Aboriginal cultures due to colonisation has left the appearance that Australia was ‘Untouched’ before European arrival.
In his artistic practice, James Tylor highlights under-told and often unseen histories of Aboriginal peoples. The landmass now known as Australia has been known by many names to many distinct peoples. Reflecting this, Tylor takes an expansive approach to landscape, incorporating his Kaurna knowledge into its presentation, and to the photographic medium, through use of technologies old and new. In Tylor’s hands, photography, once used to survey Aboriginal lands and peoples, becomes a way to indigenize landscapes.
From an Untouched Landscape is Indigenous exploration of place, reframing landscape on and near the Kaurna Yarta Nation’s traditional homelands, where Tylor’s Kaurna Miyurna people have traced their roots since the beginning of time. The exhibition includes three photographic series, We Call This Place… Kaurna Yarta (2020), (Removed Scenes) From an Untouched Landscape (2018), and (Vanished Scenes) From an Untouched Landscape (2018), as well as objects from (Deleted Scenes) From an Untouched Landscape (2019). We Call This Place… Kaurna Yarta inserts Kaurna Miyurna place names, etched on sweeping daguerreotype views of coasts and hills. The continuing series From an Untouched Landscape focuses on significant sites for Aboriginal peoples and sites of colonial encounters and violence. Removed Scenes and Vanished Scenes show these sites only partially, with black velvet shapes blocking the full view. To further contextualize these works, Tylor has sculpted wooden Kaurna objects, such as shields and spears, and colonial-era tools, such as guns and harpoons which, like the camera itself, contributed to the project of colonization.
This is the first solo exhibition of Tylor’s work in the United States, and it has been curated by Marina Tyquiengco (CHamoru), Assistant Curator of Native American Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. It is on view at the George Eastman Museum January 15 – June 5, 2022, and then will be on view at Kluge-Ruhe from July 1, 2022 – June 23, 2023.
About James Tylor
James Tylor is an Australian multi-disciplinary
contemporary visual artist, whose practice
explores Australian environment, culture and
social history. He works in mixed media, including
photography, video, painting, drawing, sculpture,
installation, sound, scents and food. He was
born in Victoria, spent his childhood in New
South Wales, and then moved to the Kimberley
region in his adolescent years. After training
and working as a carpenter in Australia and
Denmark, he completed a Bachelors of Visual
Arts and a Masters in Visual Arts and Design,
both in Photography, at the South Australian
School of Art, as well as an Honors in Fine Arts in
Photography at the Tasmanian School of Art. He
has researched Indigenous and European colonial
history with a focus on South Australia. He is an
experienced writer, designer, curator, historian,
researcher, art gallery installation and museum
collection conservator. James currently works as a
professional visual artist in Canberra.
Photo by Tony Kearney.