‘You Are On Bondi Biddigal Land!’ is a new work by Anne Zahalka, which will be exhibited in her exhibition You Are Here as part of Photo 2021. Anne Zahalka has spent her career subverting colonial ideas of an Australian pristine landscape. In commissioned work for this exhibition, Zahalka digitally intervenes into photographs of landscapes that she has a personal connection to, seeking to understand her place in this country today.
Now working with negatives taken over 30 years ago that recorded [Bondi Beach], I wanted to reflect on its cultural and geological significance more personally. As a child of European migrants who came to Sydney, first living in Bondi, I moved here as an adult and grew to love its coastal geography and diverse community. Looking out across the ocean from where my parents came, standing at the edge of this great southern land, I contemplate my place, the weight of its history and the impact non-indigenous people have had on this land. The effects of this loom large as fires burn in the background warning us to take care of the country as our First Nations have always done.
The ceremonial rock carvings seen in the foreground of fish, shark, dolphins and sunfish are engraved on a sandstone shelf that floats above the ocean on high cliffs at North Bondi. Engraved by the Bondi Biddigal people, the carvings were re-grooved in 1964 by Waverley Council and condemned by the Aboriginal Land Council as an ‘ill-judged conservation attempt’. … By removing the barriers digitally I hoped to open up this site up to celebrate and acknowledge the Bondi Biddigal people and to remind us to tread lightly on this sacred ground.
Anne Zahalka is one of Australia’s most highly regarded photo-media artists having exhibited extensively in Australia and overseas for more than thirty years. Her works are held in major public collections including National Gallery of Australia, Art Gallery of New South Wales, National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, Australian Bicentennial Collection, Parliament House, Canberra, National Gallery of Victoria, Sir Elton John Collection, Deutsche Bank Collection, International Polaroid Collection, USA, and Visart, New York. She has been included in milestone international exhibitions such as a solo show at the Australian Embassy in Washington; Three Australian Photographers: Bill Henson, Tracey Moffatt and Anne Zahalka, at GEM/Fotomuseum in The Netherlands, Supernatural Artificial at the Chulalangkorn Art Centre in Bangkok, and the Metropolitan Museum of Photography in Tokyo.