Born 1962, Coonabarabran, New South Wales
Working with computer–manipulated photo–imaging processes the project of Rea has been to explore the power relations structuring representations of the black body, in particular the female black body. Photography has been a primary tool of the colonial system from the nineteenth century on, when the eye of the camera first shot and captured 'the other' as ethnographic specimen. Focusing more on representations of the black body in twentieth century popular kitsch, Rea revisits and remakes this history of images, reworking archival photographic material using digital technologies. The role of the viewer is always implicated in her work. We see our own image reflected through the use of mirrors or, as in the self-portrait from the series EYE/I'MMABLAKPIECE, Rea holds the camera to her face, refusing the objectifying gaze and turning it back on us.
In her most recent series she works with a generic image from an old postcard of an Aboriginal man standing naked, holding a spear, shield and spear thrower. (The man in the photo is One Pound Jimmy, an artist and father of the renowned painter Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri.) This image is placed alongside her self-portrait. Superimposed on the top of these images are a gun–scope and a shooting range target, making the connection between actual violent attrition against Aboriginal people in our past, and the more persistent cultural violence of misrepresentation.
Robyn McKenzie from her Samstag catalogue essay, Art and Research
2001 Anne & Gordon Samstag International Visual Arts Scholarship
2001 Post Graduate Research, New York University, USA
1999 Master of Arts (Visual Art) Canberra School of Art, Australian National University, Canberra
1993 Bachelor of Fine Arts, College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales, Sydney