If knowledge is gained in Margin Walker, it is knowledge achieved through doubt, not through rational explication. It can be seen as a collection of arbitrary, lost allegories that are sometimes impenetrable, written in a language from which we can, retrieve and decipher fragments and nuances. A single photograph cannot convey the complete story, or answer all the questions that will certainly arise. Nonetheless, upon sustained contemplation of the entirety, of this world upon itself, an audience should be drawn further into its mysterious landscape, which among other things might be thought of as geo-psychic.
One key function of my work is not merely to describe the world, its shapes and forms and issues, but more to express the interior, hidden shape of my personal experience. It is not (because it cannot be) a literal, recognisable description: it is more an evocation. I photograph and make concrete things that are inchoate, things that are not easily definable. Although it took some time for me to realise it, my explorations of marginal places were, accidentally, but inexorably, directed inwards.
A desultory wanderer is seen to move through/emerge from/merge into a landscape that consists of more than relationships between the measurements of its space and the events of its past. It is a landscape that is formed not only by nature, by labour and materials, by the relentless passage of recent and deep time, but also by dreams: dreams of dark and dreams of light. There is objective, rational, empirical truth in my photographs – geometry, geography, chemistry, physics – and there is truth of another dimension, the truth of not merely visual perception, but of an inner, subjective perception.
Space is opened, as it were, within space itself. In many of my photographs, I create – or find – somethings which are not yet a given; time-spaces and object-nothings which are not constituted of an easily articulated knowing. I seek to show a materialisation of the between, which both IS and IS NOT. We see an image which is, at once, both a surface and beneath that surface. It is corporeal as well as surpassing. In my photographs there is dissonance, engagement, despair, wonder, hope and loneliness. Margin Walker is the uncertain journey into myself.
Roger Hanley was born in Crookwell, NSW. He was awarded his PhD in Fine Art in 2014 (BA Comms; BFA Hons; PhD). He has worked as a lecturer in photomedia at the University of Newcastle, and as a photographic practitioner specialising in architecture. He has exhibited at galleries such as the Centre for Contemporary Photography in Melbourne, and Lake Macquarie City Gallery, and most recently, in Pingyao and Shenyang in China.
Much of Hanley’s work is conceptual, but he works in documentary and reportage as well. He lives near Newcastle, NSW.
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