Picnic at Hanging Rock 1, Group Exhibition opens at Sargent’s Daughter Galleries, LA 1st June – 20th July 2024

In Peter Weir’s 1975 film, “Picnic at Hanging Rock,” the contrasting spaces of the visible world, inhabited by prim Victorian school mistresses and dreamy adolescent girls, and the unseen world, embodied by the monolithic ancient rock cropping in the Australian Bush, are brought together is a lush visual union.

Weir’s film is based on Joan Lindsey’s 1967 novel (itself based on a painting from 1875), in which a group of girls vanishes while on a St. Valentine’s Day outing to the countryside.  The film, with its otherworldly light and mystical music, has a transcendental quality that allows the audience to speculate on the girls’ fate, but answers no questions and resolves no mysteries.  

This enigma is the crux of the story, in which longing, repression, and desire meet a timeless force that can be neither explained nor seen.  The difference between looking and seeing are directly addressed by the artists in this exhibition, whose works embody a quality that cannot be directly confronted, but must instead be approached with another set of eyes.

As Lindsey writes: “The thought…would not be denied: a search with dogs and trackers and policemen was only one way of looking, perhaps not even the right way.”

What do we miss when we seek only one explanation — a physical, understandable one – instead of seeing, as the film and exhibition encourage us, beyond what is allowable to our notions of reality?

Maia Cruz Palileo • Nancy Evans • Rema Ghuloum • Roxanne Jackson • February James • Harminder Judge • Naomi Lisiki • Jess Palermo • Clare Woods

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