Rosemary Laing

bulletproofglass #2, 2002
Type C photograph on metallic photographic paper. No. 2 from an edition of 10
120.0 x 253.0 cm


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Gitte Weise Gallery, Sydney
Private collection, Sydney

Another example of this work was exhibited:
Gitte Weise Gallery, Sydney 2002
The Unquiet Landscapes of Rosemary Laing, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 23 March - 5 June 2005 (this work was included)

Amongst many publications this work was illustrated in:
The Unquiet Landscapes of Rosemary Laing, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, exhibition catalogue, illus. p.77

This haunting, poetically charged photograph is part of Rosemary Laing's seminal bulletproofglass series. Laing first showed this series in New York in 2002, where it was heralded a 'must-see' exhibition by the New York Times. The suite was also included in the artist's survey exhibition The Unquiet Landscapes of Rosemary Laing at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 2005. The artist's large-scale panoramic prints present a fresh take on the traditions of portrait and landscape photography. In bulletproofglass #2 we see a women suspended in the air against a brilliant cloud-filled sky. Her white bridal gown - ballooned into a kind of parachute - adds a further touch of the surreal to the scene.

When this bride appeared in Laing's 1999 series of work Flight Research, she was cast against a clear blue sky. However, in the 2002 bulletproofglass works, the forecast is ominous and the bride appears bloodied. This shift is said to signify what Laing considered to be dark events of the intervening years, including the failure of Australia's republican referendum, the Sydney bushfires of 2001 as well as global disasters like the September 11 attacks.

This work is a stunning example of Laing's signature artistic approach, which involves staging elaborate physical interventions and installations within the landscape. The uniqueness of this approach lies in the use of real time events, rather than effects achieved through digital manipulation. Working with a large crew of collaborators, the scale and process of Laing's undertakings can be compared to that of a film shoot. Furthermore, by recording the events in process, these dramatic images often resemble film stills, or what the artist refers to as "distillations of time".

  • bulletproofglass #2

Courtesy of the artist

View artist profile

Rosemary Laing is a photo-based artist with a painter’s eye. Her highly detailed, intentional compositions meditate upon humankind’s complicated relationship to the natural environment. The resulting images combine a sublime appreciation of the distinct Australian landscape with highly choreographed human interventions that she integrates within nature in what amounts, in essence, to a transient form of land art.

Born in 1959 in Brisbane, Laing has been working and exhibiting since the 1980s. She trained as a painter in the late-1970s before turning to photography, which was at first just a form of reference material. Laing rose to prominence with her flight research (1999) and Bulletproof glass (2002) series of floating brides, images that defy reason in their composition and surreal quality, especially since they were shot without the assistance of digital composition.

In 2017-18, Laing was the subject of a major survey of her work from the last three decades at the TarraWarra Museum of Art, Healesville, Victoria. In 2015, two of her photographic series – greenwork (1995) and brownwork (1996-97) – were shown in full in Rosemary Laing: transportation, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney. An earlier major survey, The Unquiet Landscapes of Rosemary Laing, was held at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, in 2005, touring in 2006 to Kunsthallen Brandts Klaedefabrik, Odense, Denmark. She has participated in multiple biennials, including the Biennale of Sydney (2008); the Venice Biennale (2007); the Busan Biennale (2004); and the Istanbul Biennale (1995).

In 2019, Laing received the Overseas Photographer Award at the 35th Higashikawa Awards, Hokkaido, Japan, in career recognition of photographic achievements such as weather (2006); leak (2010) and Buddens (2017). A monograph on Laing’s work was published by Prestel, New York, in 2012, written by Abigail Solomon-Godeau.