Falling Leaf Returns to its Roots

2013, 4 min 41 sec

Continuing the theme of the subject embedded in the landscape, NIKKI LAM’s video portrait Falling Leaf Returns to its Roots appropriates the most iconic and recognisable modernist Australian photograph, Sunbaker (1937) by Max Dupain. In depicting the artist, a person of Asian descent, in replacement for Dupain’s anglo-saxon subject, LAM foregrounds her own body as a site of contest; challenging the tyranny of the archetypal Australian as white. In doing so, she probes polemic political narratives in this country about immigration and shared Australian cultural values.  LAM also inserts a dual Chinese-Australian outlook into the work. Falling Leaf Returns to Its Roots is a Chinese analogy of life. “It signifies the ecology of life and the circulation of knowledge, philosophy, and belonging. Often used to describe a person who leaves home to experience life, who will always return by the end of his journey, in order to fulfil the circle of life, through death or reconnections with his family, his heritage, his roots.” LAM’s peaceful work incites calm contemplation whilst fomenting some of the most loaded issues in Australian social sphere.