Struck, First Floor Artist and Writers Space, Melbourne, 2001
This project took its premise from an event that took place in summer 1997, in Geelong. 'A group of people from the Coburg Arabic-Baptist Church were having a picnic in a rotunda during a thunderstorm, lightning struck the hand railing, two people were killed and one injured. Freakishly, the two people killed were husband and wife yet they were standing nowhere near each other. Shortly after this event the media started issuing statistics of 'deaths by lightning strikes' raising the awareness of how frequent such natural occurrences are.
It is not known exactly why lightning occurs but according to meteorology texts it is said 'that the massive updrafts near the centre of cumulonimbus clouds cause tremendous build-ups of static charge. When conditions are right, the charge will dissipate by throwing a giant spark from one cloud to another, or from the cloud to the ground. If the path of the discharge is visible to the observer it is seen as a forked streak but if the actual discharge is hidden from the observer it is seen as a diffused glow.' Melville Island people believe that the thunder woman Bumerali produces lightning by striking the ground with her huge stone axe, which sends sparks flying around the sky.
With this project it is my intention to retell the Geelong event visually through the use of a video depicting lightning, placed below a light box (an old exit sign) illuminating a still from the same video.
An incident such as this is open to multiple interpretations, from the scientific to the religious (to the point of cliché). Somewhere between science and religion this story highlights a shared inevitable vulnerability. Only the questions raised by such uncanny accidents remain - modern day enigmas.
The work attempts to emulate the sense of spectacle and danger (fear and excitement) caused by such weather conditions while simultaneously create an environment that examines the notion of temporal and the ultimate end; that specific time to 'exit'.
Sean Loughrey, 2001