Peta Clancy’s Undercurrent is a series of photographic works documenting an underwater massacre site on Dja Dja Wurrung Country. At first glance Clancy’s photographs appear to be conventional landscape images. We soon realise they are factitious and unsettling; the edges that separate each photograph are seemingly an abrupt end point. The images spliced together present layers of exposure, colour and focus.
Peta Clancy is a descendant of the Bangerang people from south-eastern Australia whose photographic works explore hidden histories of colonisation and events that threatened the survival of her ancestors. Through manipulated photography, Clancy calls attention to the way that the past and present are layered within the landscape. She aims to reconstruct and bring to light histories that have been missed, veiled or denied, re-focusing our perspectives on Indigenous sites of significance.
To create her highly acclaimed ‘Undercurrent’ series (2018-19), Clancy collaborated with the Dja Dja Wurrung community during a 12-month residency at the Koorie Heritage Trust. These soft, blushing landscapes are half out of focus and have alluringly dissonant colours. Clancy sets her lens on re-directed waterways in Dja DjaWurrung country that submerge the site of Indigenous massacres, capturing a seemingly serene landscape that masks the dark past of colonial frontier wars. To produce the works, Clancy printed large-scale images of the landscape and attached them to a custom-built frame on the same site where the image was first taken. She then sliced and re-photographed the image to challenge our focus on denied histories. Trees peer over the fault line of the divided image, combining two contemporary moments to instil in viewers a yearning to see what is behind and, in turn, remind us to look for the what is hidden below. This series has been exhibited as part of ‘The National’ at the Art Gallery of NSW, ‘Capital’ in the Ballarat International Foto Biennale, and ‘The Burning World’ at Bendigo Art Gallery.