Archive for the 'portrait' Category



13
Sep
11

Films, Events and Symposia: ‘Jack Smith: A Feast for Open Eyes’ at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), London

Dates: 7th – 18th September 2011

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His photographic works are rare and remain largely unknown according to Wikipedia. They shouldn’t be.

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“Jack Smith (November 14, 1932 in Columbus, Ohio - September 25, 1989 in New York City) was an American filmmaker, actor, and pioneer of underground cinema. He is generally acclaimed as a founding father of American performance art, and has been critically recognized as a master photographer, though his photographic works are rare and remain largely unknown.

Smith was one of the first proponents of the aesthetics which came to be known as ‘camp’ and ‘trash’, using no-budget means of production (e.g. using discarded color reversal film stock) to create a visual cosmos heavily influenced by Hollywood kitsch, orientalism and with Flaming Creatures created drag culture as it is currently known. Smith was heavily involved with John Vaccaro, founder of The Playhouse of The Ridiculous, whose disregard for conventional theater practice deeply influenced Smith’s ideas about performance art. In turn, Vaccaro was deeply influenced by Smith’s aesthetics. It was Vaccaro who introduced Smith to glitter and in 1966 and 1967, Smith created costumes for Vaccaro’s Playhouse of The Ridiculous. Smith’s style influenced the film work of Andy Warhol as well as the early work of John Waters. While all three were part of the 1960s gay arts movement, Vaccaro and Smith refuted the idea that their sexual orientation was responsible for their art.

After his last film, No President (1967), Smith created performance and experimental theatre work until his death on September 25, 1989 from AIDS-related pneumonia.”

Text from Wikipedia entry

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Many thankx to the ICA for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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Jack Smith
Untitled
c.1958-1962/2011
Analog C-print hand printed from original color negative on Fuji Crystal Archive paper
14 x 11 inches (35.6 x 27.9 cm)
Copyright Estate of Jack Smith
Courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels

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Jack Smith
Untitled
1982
Mixed media on paper
6 1/8 x 8 7/8 inches (15.6 x 22.5 cm)
Copyright Estate of Jack Smith
Courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels

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Jack Smith
Untitled
c.1958-1962/2011
Black and white gelatin silver print
10 x 8 inches (25.4 x 20.3 cm)
Copyright Estate of Jack Smith
Courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels

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Jack Smith
Untitled
c.1958-1962/2011
Analog C-print hand printed from original color negative on Fuji Crystal Archive paper
14 x 11 inches (35.6 x 27.9 cm)
Copyright Estate of Jack Smith
Courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels

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“Legendary American artist, filmmaker and actor Jack Smith (1932-1989), described by Andy Warhol as the only person he would ever copy and by John Waters as “the only true underground filmmaker”, is celebrated at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in film, performance and debate with a retrospective of Smith’s work from 7 to 18 September 2011.

Working in New York from the 1950s until his death in 1989, Smith unequivocally resisted and upturned accepted conventions, whether artistic, moral or legal. Irreverent in tone and delirious in effect, Smith’s films, such as the notorious Flaming Creatures (1963), are both wildly camp and subtly polemical. Smith is best known for his contributions to underground cinema but his influence extends across performance art, photography and experimental theatre.

A Feast for Open Eyes: Jack Smith maps out the breadth of Smith’s practice, from his collaborative film productions to his individual writings, and looks at his legacy in the UK drawing upon a generation of New York artists with whom Smith was closely involved, including Jonas Mekas and Penny Arcade, and younger artists and filmmakers whom he influenced. John Zorn, a long-term Smith collaborator selects records to accompany an installation of slides documenting Smith’s work, as he used to in collaboration with Smith in the 1970s and 80s.

The retrospective opens with a screening of Flaming Creatures introduced by Chris Dercon, Director of Tate Modern, who was a close friend of Smith’s. The film is followed by the screening of an interview, recorded exclusively for the ICA this summer, with Jonas Mekas, a founder member of Anthology Film Archives who faced obscenity charges for defending Flaming Creatures in the 1960s. The presentation is introduced by Dominic Johnson, author of the forthcoming monograph Glorious Catastrophe: Jack Smith, Performance and Visual Culture (Manchester University Press) and co-curator of A Feast for Open Eyes.”

Press release from the ICA website

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Jack Smith
Untitled
c.1978
Mixed media on paper
13 x 20 3/4 inches (33 x 52.7 cm)
Copyright Estate of Jack Smith
Courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels

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Jack Smith
Untitled
c.1958-1962/2011
Analog C-print hand printed from original color negative on Fuji Crystal Archive paper
14 x 11 inches (35.6 x 27.9 cm)
Copyright Estate of Jack Smith
Courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels

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Jack Smith
Untitled
c.1958-1962/2011
Black and white gelatin silver print
10 x 8 inches (25.4 x 20.3 cm)
Copyright Estate of Jack Smith
Courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels

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Jack Smith
Untitled
c.1958-1962/2011
Black and white gelatin silver print
10 x 8 inches (25.4 x 20.3 cm)
Copyright Estate of Jack Smith
Courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels

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Jack Smith
Untitled
c. 1958-62
Color negative
2 1/4 x 2 1/4 inches 
(5.7 x 5.7 cm)
Copyright Estate of Jack Smith
Courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels

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Institute of Contemporary Arts
The Mall,
London,
SW1Y 5AH

Opening hours:
Monday – Tuesday Closed
Wednesday 12 noon – 11pm
Thursday – Saturday 12 noon – 1am
Sunday 12 noon – 9pm

ICA website

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09
Sep
11

Exhibition: ‘The Mind’s Eye, 50 Years of Photography by Jerry Uelsmann’ at the Harn Museum of Art, Florida

Exhibition dates: 14th June – 11th September, 2011

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One of my favourite artists. Uelsmann’s unique vision and the skill required to execute that vision using multiple exposure of negatives in the darkroom (remember, this is all done with no Photoshop!) is outstanding. Observe the sensitivity to subject matter and the placement of disparate elements in the surrealist landscape. His photographs have real allegorical power and lodge in the viewer’s psyche. My particular favourites are the library and the house on the tree stump. Uelsmann achieves wonderful resolution to inner visions and then makes the dream-like tableaux accessible to the viewer. As one who started as a black and white photographer and who experimented with multiple exposures on one piece of silver gelatin paper in the darkroom, I can attest to how enormously difficult this process is.

The text on Wikipedia states:

“Uelsmann is a master printer producing composite photographs with multiple negatives and extensive darkroom work. He uses up to a dozen enlargers at a time to produce his final images … Uelsmann is a champion of the idea that the final image need not be tied to a single negative, but may be composed of many … he does not seek to create narratives, but rather allegorical surrealist imagery of the unfathomable … Today, with the advent of digital cameras and Photoshop, photographers are able to create a work somewhat resembling Uelsmann’s in less than a day, however, at the time Uelsmann was considered to have almost “magical skill” with his completely analog tools.”

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I thank him for having the creative energy to be a magician.

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Many thankx to the Harn Museum of Art for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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Jerry Uelsmann (born 1934)
Apocalypse II
1967
Gelatin silver print
10 3/4 x 13 5/8 in (27.2 x 34.5 cm)
Collection of the artist
© Jerry Uelsmann

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Jerry Uelsmann (born 1934)
Magritte’s Touchstone (first version)
nd
Gelatin silver print
Collection of the artist
© Jerry Uelsmann

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Jerry Uelsmann (born 1934)
Mechanical Man #2
1959
Gelatin silver print
Collection of the artist
© Jerry Uelsmann

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“The first critical retrospective of American photographer Jerry Uelsmann’s work will open at the Harn Museum of Art at the University of Florida on June 14, 2011. Uelsmann, known for his iconic, surreal style and his innovative composite printing techniques, has spent more than 50 years challenging and advocating for the acceptance of photography as an experimental art form. The Mind’s Eye, 50 Years of Photography by Jerry Uelsmann, organized by the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts will feature 89 works from every phase of the artist’s wide-ranging career, including a selection of rare pieces that have never before been on public view. Additional works from the artist’s collection will be on view only during this leg of the exhibition, open through September 11, 2011.

“The Harn Museum of Art is delighted to welcome this important exhibition of photographic works by the University of Florida’s own Jerry Uelsmann, a graduate research professor in the art department from 1960 to 1998,” said Rebecca Nagy, director of the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art. “Jerry has been, and continues to be a leader in the field and we are delighted to celebrate and look back on such a long, important, and innovative career.”

The exhibition will emphasize Uelsmann’s profound influence on the field of photography through his revolutionary mastery of composite photography. Through the presentation of images from different stages of his works, viewers will gain a new understanding of the artist’s creative process and the evolution of Uelsmann’s ideas throughout his career. The pieces on view will be drawn from the artist’s personal archive of vintage materials, and are the definitive prints of the images. A few examples of the artist’s photo sculptures, artist’s books and albums will give viewers first-hand insight into Uelsmann’s creative process.

“From the beginning of his career, Uelsmann has advocated for the acceptance of photography as an experimental art form,” said Phillip Prodger, curator of photography at the Peabody Essex Museum. “Uelsmann’s photography provides a valuable touchstone for understanding new trends in photographic art. His ideas and work have become even more relevant as photography embraces Photoshop and other computer technologies for altering and manipulating photographic pictures.”

Beginning in the late 1950s, Uelsmann succeeded in combining negatives in the darkroom to create synthetic compositions that conjure the illusion of photographic truth. Although these pictures are visually convincing, they depict scenes that often have no analogue in the real world. Evocative, unsettling, and often humorous, Uelsmann’s photographs are seldom easily resolved, inviting reflection without obvious resolution. His most famous technique, seamlessly fabricating photographs from unrelated negatives to create imaginary scenes, helped build his reputation as an experimental photographer, and cemented his standing as a leader of non-literal photography.

“My visual quest is driven by a desire to create a universe capable of supporting feelings and ideas,” said Jerry Uelsmann. “I am drawn to art that challenges one’s sense of reality.”

Press release from the Harn Museum of Art website

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Jerry Uelsmann (born 1934)
Untitled
1976
Gelatin silver print
19 5/8 x 14 1/4 in (49.9 x 36.3 cm)
Collection of the artist
© Jerry Uelsmann

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Jerry Uelsmann (born 1934)
Untitled
1964
Gelatin silver print
13 3/4 x 10 1/4 in (34.9 x 26.1cm)
Collection of the artist
© Jerry Uelsmann

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Jerry Uelsmann (born 1934)
Untitled
1982
Gelatin silver print
13 1/4 x 10 3/8 in (33.8 x 26.4 cm)
Collection of the artist
© Jerry Uelsmann

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Jerry Uelsmann (born 1934)
Untitled
2003
Gelatin silver print
19 3/8 x 15 in (49.1 x 38 cm)
Collection of the artist
© Jerry Uelsmann

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Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art
SW 34th Street and Hull Road
Gainesville, Florida 32611-2700

Opening hours:
Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sunday, 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.
The museum is closed on Mondays and state holidays.

Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art website

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06
Sep
11

Review: ‘Scott’s Last Expedition’ at the Australian National Maritime Museum, Sydney

Exhibition dates: 17th June - 16th October 2011

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Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

John 15:13

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Herbert Ponting
The former whaling ship, the Terra Nova
Canterbury Museum NZ

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Anon
Captain Robert Falcon Scott
Licensed with permission of the Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge

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Herbert Ponting
Members of the Terra Nova expedition with Scott in the centre
Canterbury Museum NZ

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It is difficult to describe how heroic a figure Robert Scott, ‘Scott of the Antarctic’ was to a child of the Empire growing up in the 1960s. He and his doomed party were, and still are, the quintessential heroes of my youth. Despite what we now know of Scott’s failures in leadership and organisation, he and his comrades remain embedded in English consciousness as all that is noble about the explorers of the time. They may have failed to become the first to reach the South Pole and died on the return journey but what a magnificent effort it was, what camaraderie and fortitude they showed in the face of adversity.

At the centre of the exhibition at the Australian National Maritime Museum, Sydney is a representation of Scott’s base camp at Cape Evans. Visitors can walk inside the life-size hut and get a sense of the everyday realities for the 25 expedition members, from the cramped conditions and homeliness of the hut, to the wealth of specimens collected and experiments conducted. The exhibition also reunites the artefacts used by Scott and his team together with scientific specimens collected during the 1910-1913 expedition for the first time since their use in Antarctica. The exhibition uses life-size reproductions of the photographs of Herbert Ponting. At this scale it enables the viewer to inspect in intimate detail the habitus of their lives.

What a master of photography Ponting was. His photographs are classically framed and formally restrained; his use of light is magical. The camera always seems to be in the perfect position to capture the subject, neither too high or low but beautifully balanced so that the eye is led into the photograph, to investigate those wonderful nooks and crannies of the image plane. Because of the excellent quality press images I have been able to close in on details of the photographs (a la Ken Burns). The receding row of male faces to the left of Scott’s birthday dinner, June 1911 (below) that lead to Scott as the focal point at the head of the table, flags of St. George flying above, the two standing men acting as vertical counterpoints to the equipoise of the horizontal perspectival point – and then we glimpse the punctum of the piece of bread held between darkened fingers and thumb of the man caught in mid-conversation with his neighbour. Also note the framed images on the wall behind at top left, bearing witness to the fact that living is more civilised in such a desolate place if you are surrounded by images of culture and home.

This remembrance becomes poignant in the photograph Scott writing in his area of the expedition hut, Scott’s cubicle (below). In the detail of the image we observe candid photographs of what are presumably Scott’s wife in two photographs that are slightly different from each other, his wife and child, his father and small photographs of his children pinned to the hut’s wall. Memories of home and family that become multiple momenti mori – the death of the people in the images pinned to the wall, the death present in Pontings’ photograph (the little death at the point in time that the photograph was taken) and the death of Scott himself. The pocket watch hung from a wooden post only adds to this sense of refractive timelessness.

The sense of these men living in close quarters in this community is beautifully captured in Ponting’s photograph The Tenements, 9 October 1911 (below). Three vertical lozenges project into the space from the bottom of the image, each containing its own theatrical diorama. The balance and space between the men looking across, down, up and out of the image is outstanding. The distance between Oates in the top centre and the man on the right seems somehow infinite in the photograph, like the distance in Alfred Hitchcock’s film North by Northwest where Cary Grant is waiting for the bus in the middle of nowhere and on the other side of the road is another man, also waiting. The spatial tension between the two men in the photograph is palpable, emphasised by the stacked horizontal shelf behind them. The gaze of the man at bottom left allows the viewer some room for escape from the confines of the tenements and the confines of the image plane, for without that gaze the viewer would be caught with no way out. In the detail of this man we can, as before, note the importance of personal remembrances of home with a picture pinned on the wall behind his bunk and a Fry’s Cocoa box stored underneath.

And so to the final few photographs in the posting: the famous photograph of Scott and the Polar Party at the South Pole (below) taken by Henry Bowers. Taken the day after the party had arrived at the South Pole, only to discover that Roald Amundsen had beaten them to their goal by five weeks, Bowers (seated at bottom left) used a string to release the shutter of the camera that can just be seen in his right hand in the photograph – a photograph that was then printed by Herbert Ponting from the recovered glass plate negative. In the detail of Scott and Oates in this photograph you can see the weariness, anguish and defeat in faces that are sun and wind damaged, knowing that they had to trek all the way back from this awful place (as Scott himself said, “Great God! This is an awful place”).

I have put a photograph by Herbert Ponting, Captain Lawrence Edward Grace Oates during the British Antarctic Expedition of 1911-1913, below the detail of him at the South Pole. The face is almost unrecognisable from the strong, handsome face in Ponting’s picture, the prominent nose now blackened and dark being the only thing that makes it recognisably the same person. In the detail of Ponting’s photograph, if you enlarge it, you can see two small points of light in his eyes, probably the light of the polar sun when Ponting took the photograph. For me these two spots of light become portents of what was to come as Oates walked out into a blizzard saying those immortal words, “I am just going outside and may be some time”. To me these points of light seared into his retina are like the driving snow that he walked out into in such a selfless act. It is very emotional for me as an Englishman and as a human being to look into the face of this man knowing what he was eventually to go through.

Though they failed in their quest to become the first to the South Pole, for this child, for this man they will forever remain my heroes.

Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

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Many thankx to the Australian National Maritime Museum for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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Herbert Ponting
Scott’s birthday dinner, June 1911
Canterbury Museum NZ

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Herbert Ponting
Scott’s birthday dinner, June 1911 (detail)
Canterbury Museum NZ

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Herbert Ponting
Scott writing in his area of the expedition hut, Scott’s cubicle
Pennell Collection, Canterbury Museum NZ

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Herbert Ponting
Scott writing in his area of the expedition hut, Scott’s cubicle (detail)
Pennell Collection, Canterbury Museum NZ

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Herbert Ponting
The Tenements, 9 October 1911
Pennell Collection, Canterbury Museum NZ

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Herbert Ponting
The Tenements, 9 October 1911 (detail)
Pennell Collection, Canterbury Museum NZ

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Herbert Ponting
Edward Atkinson in the laboratory
Canterbury Museum NZ

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Herbert Ponting
Edward Atkinson in the laboratory (detail)
Canterbury Museum NZ

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“One hundred years after its tragic end, the definitive story of British explorer Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s Terra Nova expedition to Antarctica is being told in a major international exhibition coming to the Australian National Maritime Museum this June.

Scott’s Last Expedition will reunite real artifacts used by Scott and his team together with rare scientific specimens collected during the 1910-1913 expedition for the first time since their use in Antarctica.

When Scott set off on what was his second journey to explore the Antarctic on board the former whaling ship Terra Nova, he could not have predicted it would be his last. Tragically he and four of his colleagues died on the return trek to the South Pole two years later, having lost the race to be first. The exhibition however will go beyond the familiar tales of the journey to the Pole and the death of the Polar party to explore the Terra Nova expedition from every angle.

“Over the years public perceptions of Scott have varied greatly, from hero to flawed leader, and discussions of what really happened still captivate people,” said museum director Mary-Louise Williams today. “This exhibition will give visitors a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in this epic journey and the remarkable landscape of Antarctica,” she said.

Visitors will uncover Scott the man, learn more about the people who made up the expedition and explore every fascinating detail of this historic journey. At the centre of the exhibition will be a life-size representation of Scott’s Cape Evans’ base camp. Visitors can walk inside and get a sense of the everyday realities for the expedition’s members… from the cramped conditions and homeliness of the hut to the wealth of specimens collected and scientific investigations conducted.

Original artifacts, equipment, clothes, and personal effects will be displayed for the first time in Australia and show the group’s attempts to make life in one of the most hostile environments on Earth as bearable as possible. Food tins including Fry’s Cocoa, Trufood Trumilk, and Symington’s Pea Flour recovered from the hut will be on display together with instruments, a microscope, and even Scott’s gramophone.

Photographs of the environment and life in camp taken by expedition photographer Herbert Ponting and poignant letters and diaries by various expedition members create a vivid picture of what life was like… working in hostile conditions, the struggles for survival and the strength of human endurance and courage.

Scott’s Terra Nova expedition made a significant contribution to Antarctic science. The expedition included a full scientific program with a large team of scientists making new discoveries which directly led to a greater understanding of Antarctica. The scientists had to endure harsh Antarctic conditions to carry out their work. It was cold, windy and completely dark in winter and, if not careful, the scientists could easily get frostbitten. And yet despite the conditions, the expedition left a rich legacy that continues to inspire and inform today.

Natural History Museum, London, the Canterbury Museum, Christchurch, New Zealand and the Antarctic Heritage Trust, New Zealand, have collaborated to create this exhibition to commemorate the centenary of the expedition and celebrate its achievements.”

Press release from the Australian National Maritime Museum

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Scott and the Polar Party at the South Pole
Left to right: Captain Lawrence Oates, Lieutenant Henry Bowers (seated), Captain Robert Falcon Scott, Dr Edward Wilson (Seated), Petty Officer Edgar Evans
Licensed with permission of the Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge.

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The fatal journey

Scott’s 1,450 km journey to the geographic South Pole began on 1 November 1911, two weeks after the Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen left his base camp at the Bay of Whales. Amundsen reached the pole first – on 14 December 1911 – and then raced back to tell the world their news. Scott and his team reached the Pole a month later on 17 January 1912 having been beset by fierce weather conditions. The disappointment was immense. The return journey was undertaken in horrid weather with harsh, intense cold and violent blizzards that, in the end, defeated them. Evans failed first, suffering concussion from a fall; Oates suffered dramatic frostbite to his feet – gangrene had set in – and he crawled out of the tent saying the now famous words, “I am just going outside and may be some time”. The remaining men – Scott, Wilson and Bowers – were weak with malnutrition, starvation and exhaustion and perished on or around 29/30 March 1912 – some three weeks after the world learned that Amundsen had reached the Pole first.

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Captain Robert Falcon Scott (detail)

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Captain Lawrence Oates (detail)

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Herbert Ponting
Captain Lawrence Edward Grace Oates during the British Antarctic Expedition of 1911-1913
ca. 1911
Silver gelatin print
Photographic Archive, Alexander Turnbull Library

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Herbert Ponting
Captain Lawrence Edward Grace Oates during the British Antarctic Expedition of 1911-1913 (detail)
ca. 1911
Silver gelatin print
Photographic Archive, Alexander Turnbull Library

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Australian National Maritime Museum
2 Murray Street
Darling Harbour
Sydney NSW 2000
Australia

Opening hours:
Every day 9.30 am – 5.00 pm

Australian National Maritime Museum website

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03
Sep
11

Exhibition: ‘Boris Mikhailov: Case History’ at The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Exhibition dates: 26th May – 5th September 2011

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Many thankx to The Museum of Modern Art for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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Boris Mikhailov (Ukrainian, born 1938)
Untitled, from the series Case History
1997-98
Chromogenic color print 
93″ x 49 15/16″ (236.2 x 126.8 cm)
Courtesy the artist, Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York, and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin
© 2011 Boris Mikhailov

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Boris Mikhailov (Ukrainian, born 1938)
Untitled, from the series Case History
1997-98
Chromogenic color print 
93″ x 49 15/16″ (236.2 x 126.8 cm)
Courtesy the artist, Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York, and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin
© 2011 Boris Mikhailov

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Boris Mikhailov (Ukrainian, born 1938)
Untitled, from the series Case History
1997-98
Chromogenic color print 
93″ x 49 15/16″ (236.2 x 126.8 cm)
Courtesy the artist, Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York, and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin
© 2011 Boris Mikhailov

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Boris Mikhailov (Ukrainian, born 1938)
Untitled, from the series Case History
1997-98
Chromogenic color print 
93″ x 49 15/16″ (236.2 x 126.8 cm)
Courtesy the artist, Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York, and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin
© 2011 Boris Mikhailov

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The Museum of Modern Art presents Boris Mikhailov: Case History, the first presentation dedicated entirely to the artist’s seminal series Case History (1997 – 98) in an American museum, from May 26 to September 5, 2011. Ukrainian-born Mikhailov (b. 1938) is one of the leading photographers from the former Soviet Union. For over 40 years, Mikhailov has explored the position of the individual within the mechanisms of public ideology, touching on such subjects as Ukraine under Soviet rule, the living conditions in post-communist Eastern Europe, and the fallen ideals of the Soviet Union. Although deeply rooted in a historical context, his work incorporates profoundly engaging and personal narratives of humor, lust, vulnerability, aging, and death. The exhibition is organized by Eva Respini, Associate Curator of Photography, The Museum of Modern Art.

This exhibition, which features some 20 works, is selected from the larger body of work of Case History, which comprises 400 photographs and was published as a book in 1999. Arguably his most challenging body of work, it explores the deeply troubling circumstances of bomzhes - the homeless – a new class that emerged after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. In 1996, after spending time abroad, he returned to Kharkov, which seemed like a changed city, with foreign ads and the glitz of a new western capitalist façade. Whereas most mainstream media focused on the new capitalists and rising oligarchs of the former Soviet republics, Mikhailov’s pictures describe the circumstances of a largely invisible underclass. Set against the bleak backdrop of the industrial city of Kharkov, his life-size color photographs chronicle the oppression, devastating poverty, and everyday reality of a disenfranchised community living on the margins of the Ukraine’s new economic regime. Many of his subjects display their wounds, rashes, tattoos, and growths.

For Mikhailov the act of photographing was partly born out of a sense of responsibility: Case History records post-Soviet realities, in stark contrast to the previous histories of the Ukraine (1930s famine, war, Soviet losses in World War II) that went undocumented. One of the most haunting documents of post-Soviet urban conditions, these unforgettable pictures capture this new reality with poetry, clarity, and grit. The large size of Mikhailov’s pictures is in keeping with the scale of contemporary photography, creating a visceral and immersive viewing experience. Ms. Respini states, “Mikhailov inhabits the worlds of social documentarian and contemporary artist. It is partly the tension between these two roles that makes the work so complex and powerful.” 

Case History also explores the complicated relationship between photographer and subject. The photographs are collaborations, sometimes the result of a spontaneous moment, other times directed by the artist. Central to the exhibition is the seven-part work the artist calls “requiem.” The mannered posing of the people in his pictures exposes the constructed nature of the photographs, challenging the idea of objective truth and authenticity implied by documentary photography. For Mikhailov, photographic seeing is an accountable act, and viewers participate in this act. With these pictures, Mikhailov implicates himself – and the viewers – in the act of looking.”

Press release from The Museum of Modern Art website

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Boris Mikhailov (Ukrainian, born 1938)
Untitled, from the series Case History
1997-98
Chromogenic color print 
93″ x 49 15/16″ (236.2 x 126.8 cm)
Courtesy the artist, Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York, and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin
© 2011 Boris Mikhailov

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Boris Mikhailov (Ukrainian, born 1938)
Untitled, from the series Case History
1997-98
Chromogenic color print 
93″ x 49 15/16″ (236.2 x 126.8 cm)
Courtesy the artist, Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York, and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin
© 2011 Boris Mikhailov

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Boris Mikhailov (Ukrainian, born 1938)
Untitled, from the series Case History
1997-98
Chromogenic color print 
93″ x 49 15/16″ (236.2 x 126.8 cm)
Courtesy the artist, Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York, and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin
© 2011 Boris Mikhailov

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Boris Mikhailov (Ukrainian, born 1938)
Untitled, from the series Case History
1997-98
Chromogenic color print 
93″ x 49 15/16″ (236.2 x 126.8 cm)
Courtesy the artist, Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York, and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin
© 2011 Boris Mikhailov

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The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53 Street, New York, NY 10019
T: (212) 708-9400

Opening hours:
Wednesday through Monday, 10:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Friday, 10:30 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Closed Tuesday

MOMA website

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01
Sep
11

Exhibition: ‘The Lives of Great Photographers’ at The National Media Museum, Bradford

Exhibition dates: 15th April – 4th September 2011

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Many thankx to The National Media Museum for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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Henry Herschel Hay Cameron
Mrs Julia Margaret Cameron
1870

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Julia Margaret Cameron
Carlyle like a rough block of Michael Angelo’s sculpture
1867
Courtesy The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the National Media Museum/SSPL

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Lady Clementina Hawarden
Self Portrait
c. 1864

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John Moffat
Willian Henry Fox Talbot with camera and lens
1864

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“Photographers have created some of the most famous and memorable images ever produced, combining science and art since 1839. The Lives of Great Photographers, a free to enter exhibition at the National Media Museum in Bradford, draws on the Museum’s renowned collection to focus on the pioneers behind the camera, exploring the extraordinary stories surrounding some of photography’s most important innovators and artists.

Featuring Henri Cartier-Bresson, Julia Margaret Cameron, Robert Capa, William Henry Fox Talbot, Weegee, Tony Ray-Jones, Fay Godwin and Eadweard Muybridge, the exhibition will display iconic images and artefacts from these and other great names, selected exclusively from the National Collection of Photography.

Exhibition curator Brian Liddy said: “Photography has been with us for more than 170 years, and in that time countless famous photographs have been taken by many famous photographers. Often we may think we know these men and women because we know their work so well, but over time so many photographers’ personal stories have become overshadowed by their most famous pictures. This major exhibition aims to redress the balance.”

The show begins with an investigation into the rivalry between two of the medium’s earliest pioneers. Without Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre and William Henry Fox Talbot, photography as it known today would not exist. Daguerre, a former theatrical designer, presented the photographic process to France and the world in 1839. Working in parallel and in competition, Talbot, who became an MP for Chippenham, went on to create the first negative from which multiple copy photographs could be produced.

As technology evolved, the breadth and range of photography increased, and the methods by which it could provide a source of income, or artistic expression, became more diverse. Julia Margaret Cameron, although primarily considered an artist, copyrighted her work and attempted to make a living by selling copies. Her personal connections gave her the opportunity to produce some of the first celebrity photographs in existence. Olive Edis employed photography as a serving war artist during the First World War and Edward Steichen’s career was remarkable for its variety as he moved effortlessly from art, to fashion, to advertising.

Photography also proved an ideal medium when it came to documenting world events. Lewis Hine and Dorothea Lange were both driven by their social consciences to record the Great Depression in America. Photojournalism, the cousin of documentary photography, is represented in the exhibition by names such as Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Capa, founding members of the world’s first photographic agency, Magnum. Both served in the Second World War and produced images that helped define an era.

One of the most notorious life stories is that of the English photographer Eadweard Muybridge. His pioneering work in chronophotography, whereby movement is captured by a sequence of photographic exposures, famously demonstrated that all four legs of a horse left the ground as it galloped. Until then the motion of a horse’s hooves were too quick for the human eye to determine. Perhaps less well known is the fact that Muybridge murdered his wife’s lover in cold blood but was later acquitted with a verdict of ‘justifiable homicide’.

The exhibition also includes Roger Fenton, Lady Clementina Hawarden, Alfred Stieglitz, André Kertész, and Larry Burrows. Each photographer is represented by their photographic portrait and a selection of their images. None is living, as only those whose lives and work can be evaluated in their entirety have been selected.

Brian Liddy added: “This exhibition shows just how rich the museum’s collections are. The work of some of the best-known photographers in history will be shown alongside the kinds of cameras they would have had to carry and use in the course of their work. We’ve also taken the opportunity to show rarely seen material, such as pages from the notebooks of Tony Ray-Jones detailing what was going through his mind when he was thinking about how to get the pictures he wanted.”

“By recounting the lives of these great photographers, we hope to provide an insight into what led them to produce some of the greatest photographs ever taken.”

Press release from The National Media Museum

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Eadweard Muybridge
Man (Muybridge) throwing discus walking up steps walking
Plate 519 Animal Locomotion
1887

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Unknown
Lewis Hine photographing children in a slum
c. 1910
Courtesy of the National Media Museum/SSPL

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Henri Cartier-Bresson
Dessau, Germany
1945
© Henri Cartier-Bresson, Magnum, HCB Fondation, courtesy of the National Media Museum/SSPL

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Alvin Langdon Coburn
Alfred Stieglitz
1905

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Unknown
Eadweard Muybridge
date unknown
Courtesy of The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the National Media Museum

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Alvin Langdon Coburn
George Davison
1918

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Lewis Hine
Albanian woman Ellis Island
1905

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Edith Tudor Hart
Gee Street, Finsbury
1936
© Wolfgang Suschitzky, courtesy of the National Media Museum/SSPL

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Unknown
Portrait of Bill Brandt
c. 1979

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National Media Museum
Bradford,
West Yorkshire,
BD1 1NQ

Opening hours:
Throughout the Summer Holidays until 4 September, we are open daily 9.30 – 18.00

National Media Museum website

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29
Aug
11

Exhibition: ‘The Enemy at Home: German internees in World War 1 Australia’ at The Museum of Sydney

Exhibition dates: 7th May – 11th September 2011

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Many thankx to Arianne Martin for her help and to The Museum of Sydney for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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Paul Dubotzki
Cinema at Holsworthy, showing American comedy One Thousand Dollars

© Dubotzki Collection, Germany

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Paul Dubotzki
Barracks in which the internees lived

© Dubotzki Collection, Germany

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Paul Dubotzki
Max Herz, third from left, directs the German classic Minna von Barnhelm by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, at the Trial Bay theatre

1917
© Dubotzki Collection, Germany

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Paul Dubotzki
Paul Dubotzki and Fellow Inmates Look Out From a Make-shift Hut on Torrens Island

© Dubotzki Collection, Germany

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Paul Dubotzki
Boxer Frank Bungardy, third from left, who established a boxing and self-defence school at Holsworthy

© Dubotzki Collection, Germany

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“Recently discovered photographs of Australia’s little known internment camps operating during WWI, reveal how the internees created an extraordinary life behind the barbed wire. The photographs, of remarkable artistic quality, show groups of civilian detainees whose only crime was to be of German or Austrian descent.

Taken by interned photographer Paul Dubotzki between 1915 and 1919, the photographs reveal how the 7,000 internees built for themselves a thriving working economy and cultural life that included all sorts of businesses and trades including newspapers, cafes, clubs, sporting events and elaborate theatre productions.

Dubotzki’s stunning photographs feature in a new book and an exhibition opening 7 May at the Museum of Sydney, shedding new light on this fascinating era in Australia’s war time history. The Enemy at Home explores life inside the three internment camps at Holsworthy in Sydney’s south west, Berrima in the Southern Highlands and Trial Bay on the NSW mid-north coast.

These so-called “German concentration camps” led to the destruction of the German Australian community, the largest non-British ethnic community in Australia before the war. The unlikely prisoners of war came from all walks of life and many had lived in Australia for decades, including beer baron Edmund Resch and acclaimed orthopaedic surgeon Dr Max Herz. Many were transformed by internment, such as businessman Kurt Wiese who developed his passion for drawing and later became famous in the USA as book illustrator including the original Bambi book and the children’s classic The Story About Ping.

Nadine Helmi has pieced together Dubotzki’s story after a chance discovery led her to Germany and the discovery of his entire photography collection. Helmi has collaborated with the Migration Heritage Centre and Gerhard Fischer, UNSW Associate Professor of German Studies who has published widely on Australian migration history.

The Enemy at Home is a timely reminder of an almost forgotten chapter in Australia’s history, raising questions about the past and about how we view and portray multicultural Australia today.”

Press release from The Museum of Sydney

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Paul Dubotzki
A camp kitchen garden

© Berrima District Historical Society and Family History Society

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Paul Dubotzki
Deserted Trial Bay Gaol barracks after the sudden departure of internees

© Dubotzki Collection, Germany

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Paul Dubotzki
Internees perform a breathtaking acrobatic number in the Holsworthy gym

c. 1918
© Dubotzki collection, Germany

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Photographer unknown
A young internee strikes a tableau vivant warrior pose
c. 1915 – 1919
© Dubotzki Collection, Germany

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Paul Dubotzki
Walter Himmelmann as the leading lady in Der Weg zur Holle (‘The path to hell’). The theatre society founded by the Trial Bay internees

c. 1918

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The Museum of Sydney
cnr Bridge and Phillip Streets, Sydney
T: 02 9251 5988

Open daily 9.30am – 5pm

The Museum of Sydney website 

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23
Aug
11

Exhibition: ‘Patricia Piccinini: The Fitzroy Series’ at the Centre for Contemporary Photography (CCP), Fitzroy, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 12th August – 4th September 2011

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A wonderful suite of photographs by Patricia Piccinini. When you see them “in the flesh” so to speak, five out of the six works (except for the last image below, Sitting Room, 2.30pm) are suffused with a beautiful, rich, dark honey-coloured light, even more so than the reproductions. This tonality adds to the romantic notion of the imaginary animals Piccinini creates – genetically modified, mutant child creatures and “Bottom Feeder” (for that is their name), rubbish scouring pets. The ordinariness of the environs that surround the mise-en-scènes supplements this feeling: books and bedrooms, workshops and sitting rooms allaying our fears, increasing our empathy. The humour is also delicious. Note the squirrel light in Bedroom, 10.30pm : inspired!

Of as much interest was Piccinini’s source material shown in the front gallery. I wrote most of the books, magazines and subjects of the photographs down because I was fascinated to see the inspiration for this artist:

  • Motorised chairs
  • Knots
  • Nests
  • American Native Indian hair (Edward S. Curtis)
  • Claws
  • Walruses
  • Skulls
  • Skeletons
  • Pupae
  • Scientific specimens
  • Birds covered in oil
  • Mammals of Australia
  • Darwin
  • Voyages of Discovery by Dr Tony Rice
  • Hiroshima Mon Amour by Marguerite Duras
  • Mag wheels
  • Big rigs (trucks)
  • Vespas
  • Custom cars and trucks
  • Morphed racing helmets
  • Photograph from Hitchcock’s The Birds
  • Braindead movie
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • Newsweek: The Meaning of Michael (Jackson) July 13th, 2009
  • Rare breeds (sheep)
  • Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature by Donna Haraway
  • Louise Bourgeois
  • Macro/Hall by Erwin Wurm
  • Le Cere del Museo dell Instituto Fiorentino di Anatonia Patalogia deformatives

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Great work and a wonderful gesture by artist and galleries to support the Centre for Contemporary Photography.
NB. Please note the free artist floortalk at midday on August 27th at the CCP.

Many thankx to Karra Rees for her help and to the CCP for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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To mark Centre for Contemporary Photography’s 25th Anniversary Patricia Piccinini has made a new series of work, never seen before. Entitled The Fitzroy Series, the exhibition of Piccinini’s new body of work, accompanied by video work and a display of her source material, is the major event in the celebrations of CCP’s 25th Anniversary in 2011.

CCP is delighted to be offering this exciting new series for the CCP 25th Anniversary Limited Edition Print fundraiser, each image in the series is generously provided in a limited edition of 4 + 1AP.

Eighty percent of funds raised through Limited Edition Prints enable CCP to support the practice and presentation of contemporary photography through provision of exhibitions, publications, education and public programs, with the artist retaining twenty percent.

What: CCP 25th Anniversary Limited Edition Print
Price: $9,320 each framed by Neo Frames (inc. gst on frame)
The first 12 prints are available at the CCP fundraiser price of $9,320 each framed by Neo Frames (inc. GST on frame)
NB. Credit card purchases attract a 1.5% merchant fee.
Prints are accompanied by a signed, numbered certificate and are provided courtesy of the artist; Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne; Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney; and Haunch of Venison, New York.
Free Artist Floortalk: midday 27 August 2011

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Patricia Piccinini
Library, 8.45pm
2011
type C photograph
100 x 160 cm
Courtesy the artist; Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne; Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney; and Haunch of Venison, New York.

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Patricia Piccinini
Alley, 11.15am
2011
type C photograph
100 x 160 cm
Courtesy the artist; Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne; Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney; and Haunch of Venison, New York.

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Patricia Piccinini
Bedroom, 10.30pm
2011
type C photograph
100 x 160 cm
Courtesy the artist; Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne; Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney; and Haunch of Venison, New York.

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Patricia Piccinini
Street, 3.10am
2011
type C photograph
100 x 160 cm
Courtesy the artist; Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne; Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney; and Haunch of Venison, New York.

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Patricia Piccinini
Workshop, 7.00pm
2011
type C photograph
100 x 160 cm
Courtesy the artist; Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne; Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney; and Haunch of Venison, New York.

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Patricia Piccinini
Sitting Room, 2.30pm
2011
type C photograph
100 x 160 cm
Courtesy the artist; Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne; Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney; and Haunch of Venison, New York.

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Centre for Contemporary Photography
404 George St, Fitzroy
Victoria 3065, Australia
T: + 61 3 9417 1549

Opening Hours:
Wednesday – Saturday, 11am – 6pm
Sunday, 1pm – 5pm

Centre for Contemporary Photography website

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17
Aug
11

The Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), Hobart

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“Lyotard writes,”We must not begin with transgression, we must immediately go to the very end of cruelty, construct the anatomy of polymorphous perversion, unfold the immense membrane of the libidinal ‘body,’ which is quite the inverse of a system of parts.” Lyotard sees this “membrane” as composed of the most heterogeneous items: human bone and writing paper, steel and glass, syntax and the skin on the inside of the thigh. In the libidinal economy, writes Lyotard: “All of these zones are butted end to end … on a Moebius strip … a moebian skin [an] interminable band of variable geometry (a concavity is necessarily a convexity at the next turn) [with but] a single face, and therefore neither exterior nor interior.”

Jean-François Lyotard quoted in Victor Burgin. In/Different Spaces 1

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“Taking a walk is also an extremely immediate form of experience. Serge Daney describes the act of perception while taking a walk: ‘Because I am not particularly fond of bravura pieces, I always need a transition from one thing to the next. And I am glad that I can find it through by body and experience of walking…”
The visual memory of the walker/viewer determines the sequence of the pictures. Since the 1960s Marcel Broodthaers has defined the exhibition as a cinematic sequence of pictures and objects, thereby subverting the fixity of the single object through recontextualisation.”

Serge Daney quoted in Hans Obrist. “In the Midst of Things, At the Centre of Nothing.” 2

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Libidinal, Moebic MONA

My analogy: you are standing in the half-dark, your chest open, squeezing the beating heart with blood coursing between your fingers while the other hand is up your backside playing with your prostrate gland. I think ringmeister David Walsh would approve.

My best friends analogy: a cross between a car park, night club, sex sauna and art gallery.

Weeks later I am still thinking about the wonderful immersive, sensory experience that is MONA. Peter Timms in an insightful article in Meanjin calls it a post-Google Wunderkammer, or wonder chest.3 It can be seen as a mirabilia – a non-historic installation designed primarily to delight, surprise and in this case shock. The body, sex, death and mortality are hot topics in the cultural arena4 and Walsh’s collection covers all bases. The collection and its display are variously hedonistic, voyeuristic, narcissistic, fetishistic pieces of theatre subsumed within the body of the spectacular museum architecture.

The experience starts with the ferry ride from the wharf in Hobart to the museum – the only way to arrive. During the 20 minutes of the journey mental baggage seems to drop away as you look over the water to the industrial zinc works, pass under bridges and then the museum comes into view. Perched on a promontory of land the museum rises like a rusted ancient temple. After disembarking you climb a colossal staircase to the entrance of the museum, all angles and mirrored surfaces. You enter one of two Roy Grounds listed modernist buildings built in the 1950s – beautiful, crisp white spaces that house the shop and a cafe, cloakroom and inquiry desk where you collect your ‘O’, an iPhone-like device that tracks all the artworks that you look at. The are no didactic text panels in the museum freeing the viewer to just experience, all data such as artists names and educational information and the tit-bit Gonzo text being accessed through the ‘O’. Into the large enclosed forecourt space a spiral staircase with a circular lift in the centre descends into the abyss (an inspired piece of design) and your journey proper has begun. Three levels deep into the ground you travel, the space carved out of solid rock. Impressive.

The museum is the body and the artworks are the organs, fragments of the whole exhibition (that of the actual museum). The experience is very kinaesthetic as the body gets lost within the space of the gallery. We wandered like flaneurs among the darkened, cinema-like spaces, almost floating from one area to the next, discovering, feeling disorientated, following underground passages, tunnels and stairs, emerging into light and then descending into the abyss again. Hours passed. Like a Moebius strip there seemed to be no interior/exterior to the body. As Lyotard notes the membrane of the libidinal ‘body’ is composed of the most heterogeneous items: here was rock, steel, shit, bestiality, intestines, brain, touch, burial etc… the curating of the collection within the space “creating a safe space for the appreciation and consideration of seemingly extreme and subversive practices.”5

Into this space of controlled transgression, the carnivalesque mise-en-scène allow the artists to delve into the deeper and darker areas of the human condition: “as Anthony Everitt once said of Damien Hirst [to] ‘open up paths for the viewer into areas of experience which are not anti-moral or amoral but extra-moral… a world where bad taste is driven to the point of elegance and disgust is filtered into delight’.”6

While some of the works were spotlit in the darkened galleries, “this dramatic lighting working to decontextualize the art objects, evoking a crepuscular and “timeless” sense of space, out of which the individual pieces emerged,”7 there also seemed to be an affinity between the building itself and the artworks (relating to the concept of affinity in museum curation). The diversity of installation techniques made an acknowledgement of the institutionalizing processes part of the viewer’s experience of the show, disrupting a unified, totalizing presentation of these objects and their cultures as “exhibition.”8 The intertextual tableaux mixed a Damien Hirst spin painting with Egyptian sculpture, ancient artefacts with Fat Cars. The context of the objects and their relationship to each other and the architecture is how the works are “framed.” This device emphasises the aesthetic rather than information and encourages the viewer to think about the relationship between the artefacts, objects and contemporary works. These inventive arrangements create a meta-narrative that offers the possibility of multiple interpretations to the viewer, multiple truths. All of this undertaken as the body moves through the spaces of the gallery and gets “lost”. As Norman Bryson has observed, “Architecture is sensed primarily through the eye and through bodily movement, and these sensations also play a key role in the way in which the contents of museums make their impact.”9

While the items are not explicitly related in terms of subject, medium or style through unexpected confrontation the works spring to dissonant life. Most of the time. When this process doesn’t work the viewer is left a little flat feeling, and…. so? wandering from piece to piece becoming slightly disenchanted. Little of the work at MONA took me to new spaces; in fact some of it was pretty mediocre, including the very dated Sir Sidney Nolan Snake (1970 to 1972, see below) that is permanent ‘wallpaper’ and takes up a whole, beautiful gallery wall. The tri-screen video by Russian collective AES+F, the works by Anselm Kiefer and the ancient artefacts (most of all) were notable exceptions. The museum is not a place for prolonged concentration and contemplation. This is not really the point of the place. The whole museum is a sensory, immersive surprising experience that cannot be broken down to its parts. David Walsh’s collection does tick all the fashionable boxes: here a Juan Davila, there a Del Kathyrn Barton, now a Howard Arkeley as though his buyers have advised him on just what to buy, but it is his personal vision, his collection. You can’t argue with that.

On of the problems of lumping all of these works together is obvious: “Ancient objects whose meaning is lost to us, medieval utensils, Christian religious images, and art objects made by modern masters were reduced to one meaning – stylistic resemblances providing evidence of the essential nature of humanity.”10 In other words a return to the globalizing view of humanity evidenced by Edward Steichen’s MOMA world touring photographic exhibition of the 1950s ‘The Family of Man’. Conversely, when this strategy works well it promotes for the viewer different modes and levels of ‘interpretation’ through subtle juxtaposition of ‘experience’. As Emma Barker has observed, “we still need a curator to stimulate readings of the collection and to establish those ‘climatic zones’ which can enrich our appreciation and understanding of art… Our aim must be to generate a condition in which visitors can experience a sense of discovery in looking at particular paintings, sculptures or installations in a particular room at a particular moment, rather than find themselves standing on the conveyer belt of history.”11 Within this plastic space experience is paramount, allowing the viewer to develop their own reading without relying on the curatorial interpretation of history, setting new parameters for the relationship between viewer and object. As Barker notes such juxtapositions are a more natural strategy for a private collector than for a museum curator, with exhibitions and displays according to this dialectical principle happening with more frequency.12 The museum looses its fundamental didactic, educational purpose.

Other problems may also become evident. In a museum whose spectacular architecture was specifically designed for David Walsh’s collection it will be interesting to see how outside, touring exhibitions (such as the recently installed Experimenta Utopia Now exhibition) display in the space, especially given the psychosexual nature of his collection and its relationship to the building. If the quality of the temporary exhibitions is overwhelmed by the architecture, if the labyrinthine, enigmatic and layered nature of the space (all those floating bridges and the huge Void that can be seen in the photographs below) engulfs lesser works then it may well fall very flat.

At the end of the day we emerged into the afternoon light, expelled from the museum in a tidal wave of humanity, exhausted, satiated. Where else in Australia could you spend all day at a museum and not have seen enough? On flying home you can log into the MONA website to retrieve your ‘O’ tour, to see what art you liked and what you didn’t; what pieces you saw and all those that somehow you missed! The physical and its remembrance transported into the virtual.

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Since Laura Mulvey’s essay of 1974 “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,” we have been aware of the voyeuristic and fetishistic character of our psychosexual relation to cinema. Engulfed in the dark cube, that psychosexual panorama, the cinematic labyrinth that is MONA has the viewer absenting themselves in front of the art in favour of the Eye and the Spectator.13 Spectatorship and their attendant erotics has MONA as a form of fetishistic cinema. It is as if what Barthes calls “the eroticism of place” were a modern equivalent of the eighteenth century genius loci, the “genius of the place.”
The place is spectacular, the private collection writ large as public institution, the symbolic power of the institution masked through its edifice. The art become autonomous, cut free from its cultural associations, transnational, globalised, experienced through kinaesthetic means; the viewer meandering through the galleries, the anti-museum, as an international flaneur. Go. Experience!

Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

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Many thankx to Delia Nicholls for all her help and to MONA for allowing me to publish most of the photographs in the posting (all except the top two and the one of us inside Babylonia that were taken by Fredrick White). Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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Zinc works from the ferry on the way to MONA

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MONA exterior, Hobart

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3d schematic from the O, showing the levels and nodes indicating art works visited, MONA

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The Void
February 2011
Museum of Old and New Art – interior
Photo credit: MONA/Leigh Carmichael
Image Courtesy of MONA Museum of Old and New Art

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B1 walkway overlooking The Void
February 2011
Museum of Old and New Art – interior
Photo credit: MONA/Leigh Carmichael
Image Courtesy of MONA Museum of Old and New Art

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Loop System Quintet/Untitled (stool for guard)

Left:
Taiyo Kimura (Kamakura, Japan, 1970)
Untitled (stool for guard)
2007
Mixed media, clothes, cd player, speaker

Right:
Conrad Shawcross (London, England, 1977)
Loop System Quintet

2005
Waxed machined oak, five light bulbs, electric motor and gearbox, drive shafts, cogs, universal joints, flange units, screws, bolts, nuts, washers

Photo credit: MONA/Leigh Carmichael
Image Courtesy of MONA Museum of Old and New Art

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Callum Morton (Montreal, Canada, 1965)
Babylonia
2005
Wood, polystyrene, epoxy resin, acrylic paint, light, carpet, mirror and sound
Photo credit: MONA/Leigh Carmichael 
Image Courtesy of MONA Museum of Old and New Art

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Sculptor Fredrick White and myself inside Callum Morton’s Babylonia wearing the ‘O’

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Portrait gallery
Various artworks by various artists
Museum of Old and New Art – interior
Photo credit: MONA/Leigh Carmichael
Image Courtesy of MONA Museum of Old and New Art

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Masturbation. It is a source of endless irony to me that when I was young, and desperately in need of endless fucking, no one was interested in helping me out, whereas now, older and slower, I could fill even my desired adolescent quota. What saved me then was my right hand, even though I call myself left-handed. Surely the hand that you wank with (I guess John Holmes was ambidextrous) defines you just as much as the hand you write with? Anyway, who writes anymore? It’s so much easier to type. Mental masturbation allows me to pretend I’m a mental John Holmes, takes both hands. But no brains.

Art. I’m not at all sure that conceptual art and traditional art are the same thing. One can come from muscle memory, from pragma; at its best it’s not at all conscious. The former, though, is so self-aware it’s often targeting its own self-awareness. Check out the Hirst and the Pylypchuk at the other end of the gallery.

David Walsh 2011

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Corten Stairwell
February 2011
Museum of Old and New Art – interior
Photo credit: MONA/Leigh Carmichael
Image Courtesy of MONA Museum of Old and New Art

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Corten Stairwell & Surrounding Artworks
February 2011
Museum of Old and New Art – interior
Photo credit: MONA/Leigh Carmichael
Image Courtesy of MONA Museum of Old and New Art

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The Nolan Gallery

Sir Sidney Nolan (Carlton, Victoria, Australia, 1917-1992)
Snake
1970 to 1972
Mixed media on paper, 1620 sheets

Jannis Kounellis (Piraeus, Greece, 1936)
Untitled

2002
Jute coffee bags, coal; three parts

Photo credit: MONA/Leigh Carmichael
Image Courtesy of MONA Museum of Old and New Art

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Erwin Wurm (Bruck an der Mur, Austria, 1954)
Fat Car
2006
Steel chassis and body; leather interior, with polystyrene and fibreglass
Photo credit: MONA/Leigh Carmichael
Image Courtesy of MONA Museum of Old and New Art

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1. Lyotard, Jean-François. Économie Libidinale. Paris: Éditions de Minuit, 1974, pp.10-11 quoted in Burgin, Victor. In/Different Spaces: Place and Memory in Visual Culture. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995, p.150.

2. Obrist, Hans Ulrich. “In the Midst of Things at the Center of Nothing,” in Harding, Anna (ed.,). Curating: The Contemporary Museum and Beyond, (Art & Design Magazine Profile No. 52), London: A.D., 1997, p.88.

3. Timms, Peter. “A Post-google Wunderkammer: Hobart’s Museum of Old and New Art Redefines the Genre,” in Meanjin, Vol. 70, No. 2, Winter 2011. pp.31-39.

4. Keidan, Lois. “Showtime: Curating Live Art  in the 90s,” in Harding, Anna (ed.,). Curating: The Contemporary Museum and Beyond, (Art & Design Magazine Profile No. 52), London: A.D., 1997, p.41.

5. Ibid., p.41.

6. Ibid., p.41.

7. Staniszewski, Mary Anne. The power of display: a history of exhibition installations at the Museum of Modern Art. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1998, p.84.

8. Ibid., p.97.

9. Bryson, Norman. “A Walk for a Walk’s Sake,” in De Zegher, Catherine (ed.,). The Stage of Drawing: Gesture and Act. London: Tate, 2003, pp.149-58.

10. Staniszewski, op. cit. p.129.

11. Barker, Emma. “Exhibiting the Canon: The Blockbuster Show,” in Barker, Emma (ed.,). Contemporary Cultures of Display. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1999, p.55.

12. Ibid., p.45.

13. O’Neill, Paul. “The Curatorial Turn: From Practice to Discourse,” in Rugg, Judith and Sedgwick, Michèle (eds.,). Issues in Curating Contemporary Art and Performance. Bristol: Intellect, 2007, pp.13-28.

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Museum of Old and New Art
655 Main Road Berriedale
Hobart Tasmania 7011, Australia

Opening hours:
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09
Aug
11

Exhibition: ‘Alexander Rodchenko – Revolution in Photography’ at Fotomuseum Winterthur, Zurich

Exhibition dates: 28th May – 14th August 2011

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Many thankx to Fotomuseum Winterthur for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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Alexander Rodchenko
Pine trees, Pushkino
1927
Gelatin-silver print, Vintage print

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Alexander Rodchenko / Warwara Stepanowa
Young Gliders
Sketch of a double page for the magazine USSR under Construction
1933
Gelatin-silver print, Vintage print, Photomontage
41.2 x 60.5 cm
Moscow House of Photography Museum
© Rodchenko’s Archive /
2011, ProLitteris, Zurich

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Alexander Rodchenko
Morning exercises, Student Campus in Lefortovo
1932
Gelatin-silver print, Vintage print
22.8 x 29.5 cm
Private collection
© Rodchenko’s Archive /
2011, ProLitteris, Zurich

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Alexander Rodchenko
Shukhov Tower
1929
Gelatin-silver print, Vintage print
21.6 x 29.5 cm
Private collection
© Rodchenko’s Archive /
2011, ProLitteris, Zurich

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“Modernism made photography what it is. It gave it self-confidence and made it trust itself. Self confident because photography in the 1920s recognized and developed its own possibilities and qualities: a probing vision of the world, an investigation of the visible reality from various perspectives, direct, clear, from above, below, behind, from the front, but without references to the pool of art history. Russian Constructivism is an important part of this great shift. In 1924, Alexander Rodchenko (1891–1956), already known as a painter, sculptor, and designer, conquered traditional photography with the slogan “Our duty is to experiment!” This resulted in a reconsideration of the concept and role of photography. Conceptual work entered the stage. Instead of being an illustration of reality, photography became a means to visually represent intellectual constructs, and the artist became an “artist-engineer”.

Yet Rodchenko was much more than a dynamic image maker. He wrote manifestos to accompany almost every one of his picture series, tirelessly promoting his concept of Russian Constructivism to the world. Destabilizing diagonals, harsh contrasts, tilted views, and picture and text collages are design elements found in his photographs. To this day they form, together with his texts, a unique document of the indefatigable artistic energy that is also manifest in Alexander Rodchenko’s posters, invitation cards, and publications.

At the beginning of the 1920s, Rodchenko worked together with his friend the poet Vladimir Mayakovsky on bold, photographic illustrations for Mayakovsky’s volume of poems Pro Eto. Rodchenko soon became coeditor, with Mayakovsky, of the magazine LEV (Left Front of the Arts), and was responsible for its cover designs in the years 1923 – 24. He designed posters for Sergei Eisenstein’s film Battleship Potemkin and was commissioned to design the Soviet pavilion to the world exhibition in Paris in 1925. The experimental and innovative “new vision” was celebrated across Europe. Rodchencko took part in the pioneering exhibition Film und Foto (Film and Photo) of the Stuttgart Werkbund in 1929. Yet already at the beginning of the 1930s, the mood had shifted in Russia; photography was increasingly being instrumentalized by the state in the interests of socialism. Rodchenko was repeatedly forced to defend himself against accusations of formalism made over his photograph Pioneer with Trumpet, and, in the end, he was expelled from the October artists group, which he himself had cofounded in 1928, for refusing to adapt his style of working to the new times.”

Press release from the Fotomuseum Winterthur website

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Alexander Rodchenko

Caricature Showing Osip Brik, variant of a cover for LEF Magazine
1924
Gelatin-silver print
24.2 x 17.9 cm
Private collection
© Rodchenko’s Archive /
2011, ProLitteris, Zurich

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Alexander Rodchenko
Portrait of Mother
1924
Gelatin-silver print, Vintage print
22.7 x 16.5 cm
Private collection
© Rodchenko’s Archive /
2011, ProLitteris, Zurich

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Alexander Rodchenko
Pioneer with a trumpet
1930
Gelatin-silver print, Vintage print
44.5 x 38.5 cm
Moscow House of Photography Museum
© Rodchenko’s Archive /
2011, ProLitteris, Zurich

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Alexander Rodchenko
Gears
1929
Gelatin-silver print, Vintage print
28.8 x 23 cm
Private collection
© Rodchenko’s Archive /
2011, ProLitteris, Zurich

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Alexander Rodchenko
Mosselprom Building
1926
Gelatin-silver print, Vintage print
29 x 23.3 cm
Private collection
© Rodchenko’s Archive /
2011, ProLitteris, Zurich

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Alexander Rodchenko
Girl with a Leica
1934
Gelatin-silver print, Vintage print
45 x 29.5 cm
Private collection
© Rodchenko’s Archive /
2011, ProLitteris, Zurich

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Fotomuseum Winterthur
Grüzenstrasse 44 + 45
CH-8400
Winterthur (Zürich)

Opening hours:
Tuesday to Sunday 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Wednesday 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Closed on Mondays

Fotomuseum Winterthur website

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28
Jul
11

Review: ‘Ricky Maynard: Portrait of a Distant Land’ at The Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 25th May – 14th August 2011

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Ricky Maynard
The Healing Garden, Wybalenna, Flinders Island, Tasmania
2005
from the series Portrait of a Distant Land
gelatin silver resin-coated print
Museum of Contemporary Art, purchased with funds provided by the Coe and Mordant families, 2010
© Courtesy the artist

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“For me, photographs have always been personal and I hope to convey the intimacy of a diary. Photography has the ability to tell stories about the world and how the photograph has power to frame a culture.”

Ricky Maynard

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Having posted about this exhibition when it was presented at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney I was looking forward to seeing it ‘in the flesh’ at The Ian Potter Museum of Art. I have seen the exhibition three times now and each time I have left feeling underwhelmed.

While it is encouraging to see the development of an Aboriginal photographic art practice and the documentary depiction from inside this culture as a form of visual oral history, there is something leaden about this story telling. Other than a few incisive images I had no feeling for these photographs; the photographs don’t really take me anywhere. The best of them give access to the spaces they depict (usually the landscapes of distant islands or mountains that evoke “a sense of absence that exist within these landscapes,” a sense of displacement and departure) but most of the work seems to be blocked at the surface of the image: there just seems to be no way in to the emotional and psychological aspects of the photographs. The viewer is hardly ever drawn into the pictures force field. Occasionally they come alive but even when photographing scenes of friends and happiness there is a deadness about the work – a portrait of an emotionally distant and constrained land that is understandable (due to the “existence of the struggle beneath the surface”) but does not make for very compelling art. Even in the printing the highlights are occluded and grey as though a miasma hovers over their production. Commenting in The Age newspaper, Dan Rule observes that series such as Maynard’s mid-80s ‘The Moonbird People’ that describes the Aboriginal community of his native Flinders Island during the annual mutton bird season, “are at once formally sparse and richly layered in the textural and historical narrative of the land.” Poetic and bearing an incredible weight of history. Personally I didn’t buy into the poetry of the storytelling and I found the photographs heavy going as though that incredible weight of history was inexorably weighing them down. If you want to see real poetry in the art of photography look at the work of William Clift.

I am asked by the curator Keith Munro “Do not forget these faces” but there is nothing truly memorable about them unlike, for example, some of the photographs of Sue Ford or Carol Jerrems. A perfect example are the photographs of Wik elders from the series ‘Returning to places That Name Us’ (2000, see three photographs below). The viewer is caught at the surface of these images, observing the minutiae of detail, the faces closely cropped at the forehead and neck against a contextless white background. These are confronting images of presence at the large size they are produced in the exhibition but what else are they? At a smaller scale one might have related to the scars, creases and furrows of the Elders like the bark of the tree weathering the storm, an intimacy with a fellow human being and their life journey – but not here. My favourite photograph was an untitled landscape from the series ‘In the Footsteps of Others’. In this beautiful image a mountain hovers in the distance while in the foreground dark grasses and trees are shot through with raked sunlight. A mysterious, haunting evocation of space and place that left me wanting more precisely because of its ambiguity and longing.

While the photographs capture individuals and their relationship to place it is a journey they do not take me on. This is the crux of the matter for a photographer – allowing the viewer to see things that are not immediately visible, to construct their own narrative and take that leap of faith invested in the equivalency of the image. For me this never happened with this exhibition.

Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

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Many thankx to Katrina Raymond for her help and to The Ian Potter Museum of Art for allowing me to publish the text and photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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Ricky Maynard
Mission
2005
from the series Portrait of a distant land
gelatin silver resin-coated print
70 x 100 cm
Museum of Contemporary Art, purchased with funds provided by the Coe and Mordant families, 2010
© Courtesy the artist

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Ricky Maynard
Custodians
2005
from the series Portrait of a distant land
silver gelatin resin-coated print
Museum of Contemporary Art, purchased with funds provided by the Coe and Mordant families, 2010
© Courtesy the artist

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Ricky Maynard
Broken Heart
2005
from the series Portrait of a Distant Land
gelatin silver resin-coated print
Museum of Contemporary Art, purchased with funds provided by the Coe and Mordant families, 2010
© Courtesy the artist

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Portrait of a Distant Land is an exhibition of 60 works by leading indigenous photographer Ricky Maynard, spanning two decades of his practice. Through his photographs Ricky Maynard offers a journey of alternative perspectives and cultural insights. His passion and meticulous attention to detail encapsulates an honest and deeply felt interpretation of his people and the land they inhabit.

Drawing on six bodies of work, this remarkable exhibition was first shown as part of the inaugural Photoquai Biennale organised by Musée du Quai Branly in Paris.

Maynard is based on Flinders Island in Bass Strait and has been recording the lives of his people since the mid 1980s. Several of Maynard’s renowned photographs trace songlines, massacre sites, key historical events, important meeting places, sacred cultural sites and practices of Tasmanian Aboriginal people.

The artist works closely with the communities he photographs and his approach to social documentary represents a major development in the representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia.

In Urban Diary (1997) Maynard focuses on the experiences of Aboriginal people in Melbourne’s beachside suburb, St Kilda, while his portraits of Wik elders in Returning to Places that Name Us (2000) are inspired by the landmark High Court of Australia’s ruling which recognised the existence of the traditional lands of the Wik people located on Cape York in northern Queensland. Also on view are images from the series The Moonbird People (1985–88) which depicts a Tasmanian Aboriginal community during the annual muttonbird season, and No More Than What You See (1993), a confrontational and emotionally-charged portrait of Indigenous people incarcerated in the South Australian prison system.

Maynard’s personal pilgrimage and spiritual journey as a member of the Ben Lomond and Big River people of Tasmania comes full circle with his images of important cultural sites, ochre trails and scarred trees represented in the series In the Footsteps of Others (2003).”

Press release from The Ian Potter Museum of Art

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Ricky Maynard
Untitled
1997
from  the series Urban diary
gelatin silver fibre print
Museum of Contemporary Art, purchased with funds provided by the Coe and Mordant families, 2010
© Courtesy the artist

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Ricky Maynard
Untitled
1997
from  the series Urban diary
gelatin silver fibre print
Museum of Contemporary Art, purchased with funds provided by the Coe and Mordant families, 2010
© Courtesy the artist

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Portrait of a Distant Land

“DO NOT FORGET THESE FACES – THEY HOLD SOMETHING YOU WOULD NOT BELIEVE 1

Through his photographs Ricky Maynard offers a journey of alternative perspectives and cultural insights. His passion and meticulous attention to detail encapsulates an honest and deeply felt interpretation of his people and the land they inhabit.

Maynard, of Tasmanian Aboriginal descent, is a documentary photographer who lives on Flinders Island in the Bass Strait between Tasmania and the southeast Australian mainland. This exhibition presents his latest developing body of work Portrait of a Distant Land, which he began in 2005, as well as a selection of images from five earlier series including The Moonbird People (1985-88), No More Than What You See (1993), Urban Diary (1997), Returning to Places that Name Us (2000) and In The Footsteps of Others (2003), tracing key aspects of Maynard’s practice to the present day.

The ten works from the Portrait of a Distant Land series trace song lines, key historical events, massacre sites, petroglyphs and midden2, important meeting places, sacred cultural sites and practices of Tasmanian Aboriginal people. Presented alongside insightful and poignant quotations by community members who have maintained their local cultural heritage, these powerful images reaffirm a cultural dynamic forged by a strong belief in the importance of upholding cultural integrity both in and through picture making. Importantly, they provide the viewer with a greater understanding of both individual and  collective histories from outside a dominant gaze. Wybalenna on Flinders Island as depicted in Death in Exile and The Healing Garden for instance, is one of numerous historically-scarred sites; and for Maynard Vansittart Island encapsulates the crude and culturally insensitive research and documentation by dominant societies that continues to this day. Some photographs such as Mission, Broken Heart and A Free Country capture moments of reflection while others, like Traitor and The Spit are powerfully loaded references to either specific historical acts of oppression that contributed greatly to the devastation of Aboriginal people of Tasmania or recall childhood memories of people and place. Alongside these works, Coming Home is an example of cultural assertion: it depicts the ongoing significance of muttonbird hunting to Maynard’s people.

The annual muttonbirding season is the subject of Maynard’s powerful and innovative black and white series The Moonbird People, a deeply personal story relating the importance of this tradition to the people on the islands in Bass Strait3. The series was commissioned for the book After 200 Years: Photographic Essays on Aboriginal and Islander Australia Today, produced as part of Australia’s bicentennial celebrations in 19884. These images record a cultural practice that significantly predates European colonisation and continues today.

Urban Diary focuses on the experiences of Aboriginal people in Melbourne’s beachside suburb, St Kilda. This body of work captures the interactions between members of the community whilst also depicting some of the challenges Aboriginal people face in urban environments. Through his ability to connect with his subjects, Maynard reveals and honours the humility of this group of individuals who have invited him into their lives.

In the early 1990s, Maynard was given special access by the South Australian Correctional Service to document the life of Aboriginal inmates held in South Australian prisons. No More Than What You See goes beyond mere documentation. The photographs not only reveal the regimented and sanitised environment that inmates are forced to inhabit, they emphasise the dehumanising aspects that have had an indelible impact upon their lives – suggesting personal experiences that may have led to imprisonment and demonstrating the effects of prison life upon them. The fact that the photographs were taken in 1993 during the International Year of the Indigenous People, makes the series more poignant.

Contributing to the provocative nature of this diverse range of images of male and female inmates are the piercing eyes that confront us and expressions of individuality: the family snapshots pinned to the walls of their cells that express the desire to make even the most hostile spaces appear homely. Maynard’s portrayal stands in stark contrast to the impersonal and statistical report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (1987-90) 5 and to the common presumption that young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees will become adult offenders.

There is a change of direction in Returning to Places that Name Us. This series of exclusive large-scale portraits was inspired by the landmark High Court of Australia’s Wik ruling which recognised the existence of the traditional lands of the Wik people located on Cape York in northern Queensland. 6 Maynard’s visit to Aurukun to photograph Wik elders became complicated because the Federal Government responded to the High Court ruling on Native Title with the introduction of an amended Wik ‘Ten Point Plan’. In his portraits of Wik elders, Maynard’s aim was to:

IDENTIFY IN THESE PICTURES THE EXISTENCE OF STRUGGLE BELOW THE SURFACE, TO SEE THINGS THAT ARE NOT IMMEDIATELY VISIBLE AND TO RECOGNISE THAT WHAT THINGS MEAN HAS MORE TO DO WITH THE OBSERVER. 7

As Maynard has stated: ‘… I seek a balance between craftsmanship and social relevance. Photography has the ability to tell stories about the world and… the photograph has the power to frame a culture.’ 8

Important cultural sites found in the artist’s ‘country’ are the focus of the series In The Footsteps of Others including ochre trails, petroglyphs, stonework sites and scarred trees. Points of travel, contact and interaction, departure and displacement are also referenced. What you begin to sense in these landscapes is a strange absence, an echo of which occurs in his current body of work Portrait of a Distant Land. There is also a strong sense of presence within this absence – of markings, events and cultural practice that have been in existence for thousands of years.

In all of his photographs, Ricky Maynard’s emphasis is on the broader social and cultural context: he is determined not to present Aboriginal people as victims. Rather, he challenges the assumptions of many non-Indigenous Australians and proposes social change by questioning popular notions of historical events and shared histories. He addresses elements of historical amnesia or highlights social issues that affect Aboriginal people.

While this form of documentary photography is not something new, what becomes an interesting development is the formation of an Aboriginal photographic practice, documenting a cultural framework that sees Maynard acknowledge the importance of co-authorship between image maker and subject. This is significant from a wider Aboriginal viewpoint and certainly from the local perspective he represents in his latest body of work.

Focusing on Aboriginal people who historically were ignored and continually denied their cultural heritage, Ricky Maynard considers landscape photography to be a process of rediscovery, a ‘revaluation of where we find ourselves’… ‘a continuing journey’, a way ‘to address issues of identity, site, place and nation’. 9 His personal pilgrimage and spiritual journey as a member of the Ben Lomond and Big River people of Tasmania back to the country where he produced his very first body of work The Moonbird People becomes then, much more than just a portrait of a distant land.”

Keith Munro
Curator, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Programs
Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney

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Footnotes

1. Quote accompanying Custodians 2005, from the series Portrait of a Distant Land.

2. Petroglyphs, pictures carved into stone, are one of the oldest forms of human expression. A midden (or kitchen midden) is an archaeological term used worldwide to describe any kind of feature containing waste products such as animal bones, shells and other refuse that indicate a site of human settlement. Shell middens, some nearly 40,000 years old, have been found in Australian coastal regions.

3. Muttonbirding is the seasonal harvest of petrel chicks, especially the shearwater species, for food, oil and feathers. It usually refers to the more sustainable and regulated harvesting of chicks in the southern regions of Australia and New Zealand for five weeks every autumn. For the Bass Strait Islanders it is short-tailed shearwater, or ‘yolla’; and in Aotearoa/New Zealand it is the sooty shearwater or ‘titi’.

4. Penny Taylor (ed), After 200 Years: Photographic Essays of Aboriginal and Islander Australia Today, Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra, 1988.

5. The Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody led to fundamental changes to the way the criminal justice system deals with Indigenous people in Australia. The Commission (October 1987 and November 1990) investigated the deaths of 99 Aboriginal persons in police and prison custody between 1983-87. The disproportionate rate at which Aboriginal people were arrested and imprisoned in Australia was identified as the principal and immediate explanation for deaths in custody. Although more than 300 of the Commission’s recommendations were adopted, little has changed and there is still widespread suspicion in the Aboriginal community about a spate of deaths in custody.
www.austlii.edu.au/au/special/rsjproject/rsjlibrary/rciadic/rciadic_summary/rcsumk01.html

6. Following the 1992 Mabo Decision that established that native title is recognised under Australian law, The High Court of Australia’s 1996 Wik Decision further investigated land ownership of pastoral leases. The Wik Decision recognised native title rights for land that was owned on behalf of the Australian public by government; issuing co-existence to Indigenous peoples and pastoral owners. The Native Title Amendment Act (commonly referred to as the ‘Ten Point Plan’), passed by the government in 1998 in response to the Wik Decision, counteracted the coexistence and authorised the absolute governing of land rights issues to the newly established Native Title Tribunal. www.nlc.org.au/html/land_native_wik.html

7. Artist statement, Returning to Places that Name Us 2000.

8. Artist statement, In Response to Place, exhibition catalogue, City Gallery, Melbourne Town Hall, Melbourne, 2007.

9. Ibid.,

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Ricky Maynard
Bruce, Wik elder
2000
from the series Returning to places that name us
gelatin silver fibre print
Museum of Contemporary Art, purchased with funds provided by the Coe and Mordant families, 2010
© Courtesy the artist

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Ricky Maynard
Arthur, Wik elder
2000
from the series Returning to places that name us
gelatin silver fibre print
Museum of Contemporary Art, purchased with funds provided by the Coe and Mordant families, 2010
© Courtesy the artist

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Ricky Maynard
Gladys, Wik elder
2000
from the series Returning to places that name us
gelatin silver fibre print
Museum of Contemporary Art, purchased with funds provided by the Coe and Mordant families, 2010
© Courtesy the artist

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The Ian Potter Museum of Art
Swanston Street between Faraday and Elgin streets in Parkville
The University of Melbourne
Victoria 3010 Australia

Opening hours:
Tuesday to Friday 10am to 5pm
Saturday and Sunday 12 to 5pm
Monday closed

The Ian Potter Museum of Art website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes the Art Blart blog which reviews exhibitions in Melbourne, Australia and posts exhibitions from around the world. He has a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne and is currently studying a Master of Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne.

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