© Kate Bernauer 2013



I need a compass not an anchor 2010-2011


The meaning and purpose we give our lives has become increasingly abstract.
Through a consumer culture, we are conditioned to be dissatisfied with our lives.
We are persuaded to value activities with unclear motivations and unknown ends.
By the staging of actors in constructed urban landscapes, the series of work I need a compass not an anchor is an examination of our purpose and place in society.

~ Kate Bernauer Artist Statement


Kate Bernauer’s large-scale colour photographs breathe allegory, and in that sense share strong linkage to the familiar, cinematic language of the Yale scholl generation, fashioned by Gregory Crewdson and Philip-Lorca diCorcia.

However, her framed narrative is not just paused, but at odds, caught within an infinite loop, like the character  Phil Connors (Bill Murray) in the film Groundhog Day .

Yet here, bodies capitulate amid vast yet restrictive scapes, which strike me as the kind of pastures where duty-bound individuals gather to stare or simply sit for a moment.

The series title, I need a compass not an anchor, is notional of an after effect, of a kind of hegemony, of feeling anchored – projecting a desire to navigate, explore, and possibly escape entwined morality.

Of significance, The Airport (2011) is strengthened by the highly contrived yet pleasing choreography of figures, which demonstrate puzzling agency, as they endure the anchor of Earth’s gravitational forces. They  idly subsist as travellers fly away.

While covering the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxatawney, Pennsylvania, weatherman Phil Connors wakes up every morning to repeat the same day over and over again, a cycle which ceases when rediscovers the importance of life and living. Groundhog Day, 1993, USA, Columbia Pictures Corporation.


~ Catalogue Essay by Paul Adair