Mutatis Mutandis is a video replication of a controversial WWII photograph of a soldier taking aim at a cowering mother and child. This confronting photograph is drawn in two versions, using dry tea leaves on white paper. In one version, the soldier aims his rifle at the mother and child who huddle before him. In a sweep of wind, the leaves disperse and reorganise in an alternate image, where the soldier is aiming away from the mother and child, appearing to be protecting or defending them.

The two opposing versions have been animated in a video loop, the shift between them between punctuated by the tea leaves blowing away and reforming as the alternate image. The loop’s equivocation between heroism and terrorism mirrors the original photograph’s own contested history and its use as evidence of offence or defence in opposing interpretations of WWII history. ‘Mutatis mutandis’ is a legal and philosophical term used to acknowledge difference, or to note the application of mutually understood changes. The term’s implication of a mutual agreement of difference is at odds with the histories of both the original image and revisioning, which animates the differing interpretations of conflict harboured in a single photograph. By using video as a canvas for drawings, the historical event and its photographic incarnation is subverted. Mutatis Mutandis foregrounds not only the moral ambiguities inherent in armed conflict but also in the interpretation of historical events.

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia

MUTATIS MUTANDIS 
Video 1:21 Looped, 2005