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Five o’clock each morning, her father wakes her. The child gets on the boat, her dad places a lifejacket over her pyjamas, and they go crayfishing. Kate’s job is to hunt for the cackers, the crayfish judged undersized when measured against a beer can. If the baby crays fail to reach the emu’s beak in the Emu Export logo, she throws them back in the water.

Back home, she goes to bed for 20 minutes, wakes again and goes to school. Kate is a very good student: she is allowed to leap a grade. In her primary years, in 1980s Geraldton, a remote mid-west-coast iron ore port town 424 kilometres north of Perth, she gets bullied a lot, and guesses that’s because she has no hair, due to the Wilms’ tumour, a rare childhood kidney cancer she was diagnosed with at age three.

A spectral figure in the night approaches and captures the small girl’s image. The flash awakens her. Soon, she will become aware these photos require performances. The child learns she is both object and subject of the gaze.

The images graduate to staged tableaux of family life before the same maternal eye, processing connection, longing and loss, as family members grow and travel and briefly intersect again.

In one digital 90cm x 90cm print, taken in 2011, Mia Wasikowksa is in the foreground, chest deep in a lake’s water, eyes closed, shirt buttoned to the neck.

Fifty essays and dispatches on
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Written Content: Steve Dow ©2001-2015 Site Design: Outstanding Creations
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