Review | Monday 03 May 2010
The everyday lives of Australia’s indigenous people, particularly those who live in remote communities, are mysterious to most Australians. We tend to stigmatise or romanticise indigenous communities, depending on our political views and upbringing. This remarkable, wholly engrossing book is a much-needed wake-up call.
Rod Moss lived and worked alongside the Eastern Arrente people in Alice Springs for nearly thirty years, not just observing but taking part in the lives of the people around him. A renowned (if resolutely unfashionable) artist, his work engages with and acts as a kind of commentary on the world he inhabits – a raw social realism. His clear-eyed, respectful, affectionate yet uncompromising view reports back on how life is really lived in central Australia.
The Hard Light of Day is chiefly a blend of memoir and reportage, telling the story of his relationships with the Arrenete people and the Whitegate community over the decades. But it also features fifty full-colour reproductions of Moss’s paintings, with commentary from the artist on each one.
Rich with anecdote and observation, both confronting and affecting, this is a must-read.