Impossible blue : photography, loss and longing : an exegesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the post graduate degree of Master of Fine Arts at Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand

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Impossible Blue: Photographs, Loss and Longing (2019-20) is a meditation on imagined utopias – based on the visions of past ‘outsider artists’, historical mythologies and current environmental issues. The research undertaken to produce this work unearthed parallels between the life cycle of the individual as well as the human species as a collective because of the loss and longing which we share: we are all separated from our origins at birth and long for a return that is seemingly impossible. This text suggests photography as an artistic means to bridge the gap – a portal through which we can touch the impossible, if for a moment. My work in Impossible Blue seeks to challenge the viewer regarding common concepts of male-centric utopias and projections of colonial mythologies throughout the landscape of Aotearoa, as well as by creating tension between fiction and reality. Concepts of photography as a means to describe our personal and collective loss and longing were inspired by the ideas of renowned photographic theorists including Roland Barthes (1915-1980) and Geoffrey Batchen (b.1956) who illuminated, for me, the intricate links between motherhood and photography. Specific works and artistic processes of female photographers, artists and Pre-Raphaelites spanning the 19th to 21st centuries are rich in this text as evidence to support these concepts. Other concepts included in this text, such as eco- and hydro-feminism, projected mythologies and the visualisation of fears and desires for the future, seek to discuss what a utopian ideal for the future could look like. These concepts are inspired by individual and grouped female artists from Aotearoa and abroad, as well as my own ancestral mythologies, including Baltic paganism.
The following copyrighted Figures were removed: 2.5 © Woodman Family Foundation, 2.6 & 4.2 © V&A Museum, 2.7 & 2.8 (Riches, 2012 Figs 3 & 4), 3.6 © Zucker Art Books, 5.1 © Hyperallergic, 5.2 © MoMA (, 6.4 © All rights reserved.