The myth of Australia’s ‘Inland Sea’ and the veneration of colonial exploration were recurring subjects for Gordon Bennett, an artist whose work provokes critical reflections on Australia’s official history and national identity.

The inland sea is an important aspect. As an idea it was created because Europeans figured that rivers that ran inland must go into a sea. It was like a European rational organisation of what they knew projected onto what was unknown. So it represents an inability to come to grips with the ‘essence’ of this country. After all, most of us live on the coastal regions with our backs to the inland. We always look back to Europe for our positive reflection of ourselves. – Gordon Bennett

This diptych depicts a binocular view of a drowning figure alongside a sinking boat, directing the viewer’s attention to their own position and perception in relation to History. For Bennett, art history and theory were stylistic systems through which he could explore the rationalisation of cultures, histories and identities. To this end, Mirror, Mirror (The Inland Sea) Binocular co-opts stylistic traits of Abstract Expressionism, Pop art and Western Desert painting.

 

Reference: Gordon Bennett and Christopher Chapman, ‘A Discussion with Gordon Bennett: The Inland Sea’, Artonview, 1995, pp. 38–42. Republished in Angela Goddard and Tim Riley Walsh (eds), Gordon Bennett: Selected Writings, Griffith University Art Museum, Brisbane, and Power Publications, Sydney, 2020, pp.126–9.

Gordon Bennett