EVA FERNANDEZ | ARTIST

A Rare Bird in the Lands

Rara avis in terris nigroque simillima cygno
‍a rare bird in the lands, and very likea black swan

2018 | 19 October - 17 November
Turner Galleries
470 William Street, Northbridge

Throughout European history, in literature, music and theatre, the black swan has been attributed with dark symbolism, having a sinister and seductive association with evil.

The first recorded sighting of a black swan by a non-Indigenous person was by the Dutch explorer, Willem de Vlamingh in 1697, when he sailed into the Derbal Yaragan, also known as the Swan River. As European swans were only white, this was a unique and momentous as prior to this, the black swan only existed in the European imagination as the popular proverb, a rare bird in the land.

This proverb dates back to the Roman satirist, Juvenal, who wrote in AD 82, rara avis in terris nigroque simillima cygno translating to "a rare bird in the lands, and very like a black swan”. This became a popular metaphor for something that could not exist or was not possible.

Drawing upon this history, the black swan became an emblem with which to explore the dark undertone surrounding the first contact in the Derbal Yaragan area with Europeans and the impact of colonisation on both environment and the original inhabitants.

As the black swan is also the official state emblem of Western Australia and depicted on the flag as well as the coat of arms, this emblem represented in my dark images becomes an ironic symbol to comment on Western Australia’s brutal history and the processes by which the state was founded.

A Rare Bird in the Lands

Rara avis in terris nigroque simillima cygno
‍a rare bird in the lands, and very likea black swan

2018 | 19 October - 17 November
Turner Galleries
470 William Street, Northbridge

‍Throughout European history, in literature, music and theatre, the black swan has been attributed with dark symbolism, having a sinister and seductive association with evil.

The first recorded sighting of a black swan by a non-Indigenous person was by the Dutch explorer, Willem de Vlamingh in 1697, when he sailed into the Derbal Yaragan, also known as the Swan River. As European swans were only white, this was a unique and momentous as prior to this, the black swan only existed in the European imagination as the popular proverb, a rare bird in the land.

This proverb dates back to the Roman satirist, Juvenal, who wrote in AD 82, rara avis in terris nigroque simillima cygno translating to "a rare bird in the lands, and very like a black swan”. This became a popular metaphor for something that could not exist or was not possible.

Drawing upon this history, the black swan became an emblem with which to explore the dark undertone surrounding the first contact in the Derbal Yaragan area with Europeans and the impact of colonisation on both environment and the original inhabitants.

As the black swan is also the official state emblem of Western Australia and depicted on the flag as well as the coat of arms, this emblem represented in my dark images becomes an ironic symbol to comment on Western Australia’s brutal history and the processes by which the state was founded.

© Copyright Eva Fernandez 2018