Rosemary Laing made her flight research series in 1999 in the Blue Mountains near Sydney. The images from this series are disquieting in their tension, and also quite joyous – the bride is an image of fabulous freedom as she defies gravity. It was preceded by an earlier series concerned with aerospace, nature and technology and the spectrum. Here, a woman in a bridal gown appears to be in free fall above the landscape. In the series the bride rises, falls and floats. The image is not digitally manipulated; Laing employed a stuntwoman. The viewer is asked to believe that a bride can go sailing into the clouds. When first exhibited, the wedding dress was also placed on the gallery floor, evidence perhaps that the bride had finally touched down. Laing’s art is symbiotic in its melding of the sensuous, colourful world of three dimensions and the stringently conceptual and speculative world of philosophy, abstract concepts and meditation.
Laing’s work tangentially reflects the omnipresence of technology in our lives and our way of interacting with it, the collision between nature and technology. Advances in technology have meant that time and space have ceased to exist in a way that is meaningful to us in any traditional human-referenced way. We are able to move in ways that do defy gravity and we accept this as normal. This image fulfils our fantasy of effortlessness, yet we know in the ordinary world of gravity and daily experience that we need to be wary of such seductive illusions of modern technology.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Anne Gray (ed), Australian art in the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2002