“It was a proverb more eloquent than ‘snooze you lose’ for a victim made chairless. He said it swooping on my spot by the fire, quick–grinning in the flickering light and clutching his rusted prize with tight, tiny knuckles.”
Pabva Zizi Pagara Gondo is a print exhibition and photobook (2018 Australian Photobook of the Year finalist) that builds on an expression in Zimbabwe’s Shona language and translates as ‘where the owl left the eagle comes to sit.’
The project visually allegorises legacies of colonialism, civil war and mass emigration amongst fragments of Cameron James Cope’s experience as a de facto ‘mukwasha’ (son in law) visiting the family towns and villages of his partner across Zimbabwe.
The images are proposed as poetic fragments, starting points, cues for questions, for reading and exploring the central metaphor of trading places.
“In my imagination Tazi and I became the eagle and the owl, our different backgrounds and modes of seeing crossing in the dark, trading places over continents. We had flown to the former industrial hub of Redcliff, Zimbabwe, where Tazi grew up. And though we landed on the same perch, for each of us the view was different.”
Cameron James Cope is an image burglar and purveyor of words based in Narrm (Melbourne), Australia. His personal projects and photobooks explore how the past is embedded in the present through visual allegory, narrative form and conceptual documentary.
In 2014 Cameron was named Australian Travel Photographer of the year by the Australian Society of Travel Writers & Photographers, and in 2016 was a finalist in the Australian Life national photography prize. Cameron holds a Master of Fine Art from RMIT University where he also runs photography workshops.
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