Danielle Thompson "Panorama" at 101 Collins Street. Melbourne March 9 - 31, 1999
by Werner Hammerstingl ©1999

Kant, Kierkegaard, Schoppenhauer, Nietzsche, Marx, Wittgenstein and most of the recent writers who comment on aesthetics agree on at least one point: aesthetics and ideology are intertwined.

"Aesthetics is borne as a discourse of the body. In its original formulation by the German philosopher Alexander Baumgarten the term refers not in the first place to art, but as the Greek aisthesis would suggest, to the whole region of human perception and sensation, in contrast to the more rarefied domain of conceptual thought"(1).

That memorable image, a painting by Caspar David Friederich entitled Der Wanderer ueber dem Nebelmeer (1818) depicts a solitary male, poised on the a rocky outcrop, high above a sea of fog and looking onto the distant ranges. He is calmly contemplating the landscape, his back turned to the viewer. Friederich makes us aware with this painting that the contemplation of landscape is a silent and intensely personal journey.

Many, if not all of us, have had such an experience. It makes us better individuals for that moment. We feel the homogeneity between ourselves and nature. It is like a spell and we have to awaken again to continue our journey . Soon the magic fades away.

Danielle Thompson's images in this exhibition are intensely aesthetic. They do not lend themselves well to an equivalence in language. They are pure states in themselves. Derived from the landscape, but undeniably not an equivalence to the landscape from which they were derived. What we are seeing in these photographs here is a fusion between the landscape and the strongly personal, even intimate revelations of the artists mind.

In the present climate of art and art critique these photographs might seem somewhat romantic and un-theoretical. Perhaps this is their most striking quality. To me they are like a good book in that they open the door to a private union with another's mind for an enjoyable period of time where the rest of reality just fades away.

Many individuals are becoming increasingly nervous about where our communities driven by rationalism and technology are heading. The firmament of facts under which we individually shelter is not always providing the security and direction we seek. What a relief then, to encounter some pictures which are not attempts at factuality or, for that matter, imitation. Like a hummed tune, these images remind us of something familiar. What that is, depends on where we've been.

Danielle Thomson's pictures prove that art can still be magic. Enjoy!

1Terry Eagleton The ideology of the aesthetic Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1990, page 13
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©Werner Hammerstingl, Melbourne, 1999