JG Ballard is not known for his sensitive or nuanced portrayal of women. Yet argue I that if we re-examine his classic 1962 novel, The Drowned World, can we find a powerful and admirable female character in the form of Beatrice Dahl.
I have read between the lines of this canonical sci-fi text to expose Beatrice’s hitherto marginalized history and liminal strength.
I carefully mined the novel for clues, then, using a strategy employed by both fan-fiction and post-colonial literature (see for example Peter Carey’s Jack Maggs and The Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys), I wrote an imaginary chapter into the existing plot framework of The Drowned World in order to reveal the complexity of Beatrice’s character.
Read my complete ‘missing’ Chapter 3.5 here: The Penthouse Pool_Tracey Clement
Read my essay, “Finding a hidden heroine in J. G. Ballard’s sci-fi novel, The Drowned World,” here.
‘Soon it would be too hot.’
This is the first line of J.G. Ballard’s sci-fi novel, The Drowned World.
My current PhD research is driven by the key question: In what ways have contemporary artists responded to Ballard’s novel and what issues do they raise?
With this in mind, I have invited 5 Australian artists: Gosia Wlodarczak, Jon Cattapan, Janet Tavener, Roy Ananda and Kate Mitchell, to join me in making artwork in response to imagery and themes found in The Drowned World (TDW).
This group exhibition, Mapping The Drowned World, will be held at SCA Galleries: October 8-31, 2015.
Opening: Wednesday, October 7, 6-8pm.
Written in 1962, during the perpetual slow-burning crisis of the Cold War, The Drowned World reads like a prescient vision of climate change.
As a bridge between the post-war apocalyptic fears of the recent past and current eschatological anxieties, The Drowned World (TDW) is a potentially rich source of inspiration for contemporary artists.
The work in progress above is my second response to this novel. The first can be seen here.