Queensland Centre for Photography, March 17th-April 8th 2013
Prosperity explores humanity’s relationship with the land through the extractive industries. The impacts of coal mining on rural towns and environments are portrayed within rosy visions of wealth and beauty, with a darker underlying tension between growth and destruction. The conflict is visible in the landscape: forsaken homes stand in contrast to vast, shimmering, mounds of rocky overburden, enduring symbols of our collective desire for prosperity from the earth.
The ambivalent visual language speaks to the constant negotiation involved in mining development; between opportunity and sacrifice for individuals and communities. The photographs engage with workers’ soulless living conditions in transient camps as a necessary outcome of engaging in regions far from Australia’s cities. The images are poetic elegies to small, rural communities where the destruction of place and memory is required to expand mines and bring prosperity to the regions.
This work seeks to raise questions about the idea of Progress, and the assumption that economic development automatically improves the human condition. Is Progress a myth benefitting the few? Do we underestimate the extent of humankind’s destructiveness and irrationality? How can we reconcile the dark side of exploiting mineral wealth, with the aspiration and desire to build and grow?