The exhibition Dangerous Stars – at the Head On Photo festival in Sydney – stretches the limits of image-making and traces the journey of animals’ spirits after death
For a photographer whose primary subject is death, Judith Nangala Crispin is surprisingly chipper. Her works are “portraits of what remains after an animal has died”, she tells Guardian Australia. They are elegies to newly deceased creatures: lizards squashed underfoot, stillborn calves, pigeons smeared against windscreens. And in Crispin’s art they become haunting, translucent forms, emblazoned across the night sky as if they’re halfway between this life and the next.
Crispin’s latest exhibition – showing as part of this year’s Head On Photo festival – is the culmination of five and half years of work. Its title, Dangerous Stars, refers to the journey of a spirit after death. “Out in the desert, there’s this idea that if you die and you’re not on your own country, then other people can look up to the sky, and they’ll see a shooting star – that you’ll be going back to your own country,” says the artist, a descendant of Victoria’s Bpangerang people. The same holds true with animals. “[I’m] tracking the passage of these animals after they die.”