23
Nov
09

Vale Sue Ford (1943-2009)

November 2009

 

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009)
Dissolution
2006
From the Last Light series

 

 

One thing always struck me about Sue Ford’s work when I saw it. The work had integrity.

Whatever she produced it was always interesting, valid and had integrity. She followed her own path as we all do – and her voice was clear, focused and eloquent. I loved her series Shadow Portraits – an erudite investigation into the nature of Australian identity if ever there was one!

Vale Sue Ford.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Please click on some of the photographs for a larger version of the image.

Barbara Hal. “Australian pioneer focused on her art,” in The Age newspaper November 21, 2009 [Online] Cited 10 May 2019

 

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009)
Silhouette
2006
From the Last Light series

 

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009)
Apparition
2007
From the Last Light series

 

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009)
Transparent
2007
From the Last Light series

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009) 'Shadow portraits' (detail)1994

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009)
Shadow portraits (detail)
1994
Colour photocopies

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009) 'Shadow portraits' (detail)1994

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009)
Shadow portraits (detail)
1994
Colour photocopies

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009) 'Shadow portraits' (detail)1994

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009)
Shadow portraits (detail)
1994
Colour photocopies

 

 

For Shadow portraits, Ford, like numerous artists in this period, mined historical archives of photographs for her source material, decontextualising and reworking it. Her starting point was nineteenth-century studio portraits of settler Australians that were popular in colonial society. She exploded her previous practice and intense focus on the faces of individuals; in most cases the subjects of the original photographs used in Shadow portraits are unrecognisable. Their faces have been emptied out and replaced by Ford’s generic images of Australian foliage, especially fern fronds. All the details that define an individual, their character and appearance, have disappeared, just like the sitters themselves who have been dead for decades and exist only in ghosted form.

Individual works in Shadow portraits (above) rely on a dynamic relationship between historical and contemporary images to create something new. The original studio portrait is not intact, having undergone an extended process of transformation; being re-photographed, cut up and photocopied to eventually take the form of a large gridded image. Use of the grid – an obvious reference to European systems of containment and control – continues the experimentation evident in Yellowcake. Overlaps, like the doubled image of a stereoscopic card, are purposefully exploited. The aim is to destabilise a once-static historic image, to turn the small into big, the tones into colour, the positive into negative and so on. Through these means the colonial past is represented as having continuing reverberations: the loss of concreteness in the images and distortions of scale parallel the incompleteness, gaps and blow-outs characteristic of any historical narrative. As Zara Stanhope writes, Ford’s Shadow portraits ‘image the ongoing processes involved in the construction of histories, and the power to know and remember, that provides the opportunity to revisit or critique such accounts’.

Associate Professor Helen Ennis. “Sue Ford’s history,” in Art Journal 50, National Gallery of Victoria, 1 Jan 2013 [Online] Cited 11/05/2019

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009) 'Ross, 1964; Ross, 1974' printed 1974

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009)
Ross, 1964; Ross, 1974
Printed 1974
From the Time series (1962-1974)
Gelatin silver print
11.1 × 20.1cm
© Sue Ford

 

 

“I have always been interested in how actions taken in the past could affect and echo in peoples’ lives in the present. Most of my work is to do with thinking about human existence from this perspective.”

.
Sue Ford, “Project X’, in Helen Ennis & Virginia Fraser, Sue Ford: A Survey 1960-1995. Monash University Gallery, Clayton, 1995, p. 17

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009) 'Big secret!' c. 1960-1961

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009)
Big secret!
c. 1960-1961
Gelatin silver print
28.9 × 23.6cm
© Sue Ford

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009) 'Orpheus' 1972

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009)
Orpheus
1972
Gelatin silver print
33.8 × 33.8cm
© Sue Ford

 

 

A feminist approach

Until 1988 Ford was known principally for work that was motivated by feminist politics, that dealt with the lives of contemporary women and the politics of representation. She worked across media, using black and white photography, film and video. Her photography from the early 1960s onwards was based on what she regarded as photography’s objective capacity; in other words, she utilised the camera as a means of recording whatever she placed in front of it. This interest in ‘objectivity’ related more to the practices of conceptual art than to the heightened subjectivity, or subjective documentary that prevailed in art photography, especially during the seventies. Ford’s feminist photography can be regarded as objective but not as ‘documentary’ in the terms the latter is conventionally understood because there was nothing surreptitious or spontaneous about it. Her approach was non-exploitative and consensual in keeping with the politics of feminism and the counterculture. From the beginning of her career, her subjects were mostly friends and acquaintances; they knew they were being photographed and agreed to it. This consensual approach and its interrelated performative element were adopted by other feminist photographers, such as Carol Jerrems, Ponch Hawkes and Ruth Maddison, in their work during the 1970s.

In the 1970s and 80s Ford’s photography differed from mainstream practice in another fundamental way. It did not relate to the purist and fine art traditions that underpinned the case for photography’s acceptance as art. Her prints were grainy, rough and often very small. Ford conceived photography in radical terms, as a plastic medium that was entwined with other art practices. In an interview at the time she was awarded a scholarship to fund her studies at the Victorian College of the Arts in 1973-74, she emphasised her interest in artists’ use of photography: ‘Some artists are utilising phototechniques and are thinking in a photographic way. I want to use some of their techniques and materials to extend photography into other dimensions’.

Associate Professor Helen Ennis. “Sue Ford’s history,” in Art Journal 50, National Gallery of Victoria, 1 Jan 2013 [Online] Cited 11/05/2019

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009) 'No title (Photogram of two hands and garden path)' c. 1970

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009)
No title (Photogram of two hands and garden path)
c. 1970
Gelatin silver print
27.6 × 34.7cm irreg. (image and sheet)
© Sue Ford

 

 

LIKE ART BLART ON FACEBOOK

Back to top


0 Responses to “Vale Sue Ford (1943-2009)”



  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, an art and cultural memory archive, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. If you would like to unsubscribe from the email list please email me at bunyanth@netspace.net.au and I will remove you asap. Thank you.

Join 2,890 other followers

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Orphans and small groups’ 1994-96 Part 2

Follow Art_Blart on Twitter
Art Blart on Pinterest

Blog Stats

  • 12,541,636 hits

Recent Posts

Lastest tweets

November 2009
M T W T F S S
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30  

Archives

Categories

If you would like to unsubscribe from the email list please email me at bunyanth@netspace.net.au and I will remove you asap. Thank you.

Join 2,890 other followers


%d bloggers like this: