Beyond the Sublime, Part II
The Invention of Ayers Rock

Beyond the Sublime, Part II, Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney 1996







This exhibition grew out of Brereton's PhD thesis  titled Advertising Uluru: Commercial Images of Ayers Rock (UTS, 1995)

The show was made up of a series of large format digitally manipulated photographs and a video animation. The focus was the invention of Ayers Rock (as opposed to Uluru) as a commercial advertising and tourist image site. A series of postcards were also produced for each image, placed in a dispenser mounted on the wall under each respective photograph. The public could take away a free image of the Rock as a memento or souvenir – in the same way as tourists do when visiting the actual Rock and leave with snap shots as records of "being there".

The aim was to raise questions about how national iconic sites are valued and constructed as images in the social and cultural imaginary. 'The Rock' is a historical and political meeting and often conflict site between Aboriginal and colonial events embodied in the two names Uluru and Ayers Rock. The two sites support very different and in many ways opposing mythologies. While the geography may be the same, the meaning and significance of The Rock varies much across indigenous and post-colonial ways of seeing and being.

As a tourist and commercial resource The Rock has been very valuable since it's entry into colonial history in 1872. Constructed as a singular monolith popular mythologies cite The Rock or Ayers Rock as the marker of Australia';s "dead heart" and "red centre". By contrast, Uluru is a polymorphic collection of sacred sites each with a complex set of lores and rules governing use and meaning. The focus of this exhibition was on the post-colonial contemporary tourist uses of Ayers Rock rather than Uluru.