Cover image of the review

Nicholas Mangan, Termite Economies

18 Aug 2018
Sutton Gallery 4 Aug - 1 Sep 2018

I noticed when researching for this review that Nicholas Mangan was born in Geelong, where I, too, was born. And, presuming that Mangan grew up there, I wonder whether he ever encountered the bizarre CSIRO Animal Health Laboratory that I lived near. Crowned with an enormous tower that, in hindsight, might have been a colossal chimney (perhaps for releasing the smoke and vapour from biological experiments); it was a bizarre site that dominated the skyline and dwarfed the buildings around it. The reason why I wonder if Mangan might also have been aware of this building is because the constant visual presence it had in our lives—and simultaneously its barring of access—made me, at least, desperate to know what went on inside. It also caused me to develop narratives of all the weird and science-fiction-like experiments going on in the laboratories. Indeed, when I heard that my sister’s friend had been employed to feed the health laboratory’s HIV-infected monkeys, my suspicions about the deviant experiments going on behind closed doors were only exacerbated.

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