19
Sep
10

Exhibition: ‘Timelines: Photography and Time’ at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 7th May – 3rd October 2010

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Many thankx to Alison Murray and the National Gallery of Victoria 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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Felice Beato
Italian/English 1832–1909, worked throughout Europe and Asia 1853–90
Stillfried and Anderson and the Japan Photographic Association (studio)
Japanese 1877–85
No title (Maiko)
1866–68, printed 1877–85
albumen silver photograph, coloured dyes
24.4 x 19.6 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased through the NGV Foundation with the assistance of The Herald & Weekly Times Limited, Fellow, 2001

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Ruth Maddison
Australian 1945–
Molly O’Sullivan, 82
1990
from the After work series 1990
gelatin silver photograph, oil paint, fibre-tipped pen
24.8 x 20.6 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased through The Art Foundation of Victoria with the assistance of the Hugh Williamson Foundation, Founder Benefactor, 1990
© Ruth Maddison

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“Opening 7 May, the National Gallery of Victoria will present Timelines: Photography and Time, a captivating exhibition exploring the notion of time in photographs.

Time is a slippery notion. It is everywhere and always moving but this powerful regulating force cannot be seen. It is only apparent in context: in the changing seasons, in another wrinkle on our faces, in the growth of children. Photography has a unique role to play in our sometimes poignant sense of time passing. The camera’s ability to depict ‘a moment in time’ – to stop the clock for a brief moment – gives photographs a unique capacity to direct our consideration towards the mechanics and poetics of this pervasive and mysterious cosmic force.

In this exhibition one aspect of time is considered from a photographic perspective: namely, human life. Works have been selected from the permanent collection both by International and Australian photographers that show an interest in some aspect of lifecycles. Arranged, in part, in a ‘timeline’, these works provoke our understanding of the mediums capacity to suggest the concept of time in ways that may be surprising, moving or even confronting. The exhibition also looks at how photographers have extended a sense of time and duration through images that work in series

Timelines will feature almost forty photographs from the NGV Collection by both Australian and international photographers including work by Diane Arbus, Micky Allan and Bill Brandt.

Isobel Crombie, Senior Curator of Photography, NGV said photography has a unique role to play in capturing the way that time passes.

“The camera’s ability to ‘stop the clock’ enables the medium to direct our consideration towards the mechanics and poetics of this pervasive and mysterious cosmic force.

“The instant that the photograph captures can be a potent reminder to seize the day rather than dreaming about the past or worrying about the future,” said Dr Crombie.

The exhibition also looks at how photographers have extended a sense of time and duration through images that work in series. From the 1960s onwards, photographers began experimenting with stretching time by creating a series or sequence of photographs.

This is seen in Rod McNicol’s powerful series titled A portrait revisited (1986–2006), (pictured Jack, below). Purchased by the NGV in 2009, the series features portraits of men and women; each posed directly facing the camera against a plain backdrop. There are two portraits of each subject photographed twenty years apart, inviting the viewer to compare the portraits to see how time has changed them. The sense of time passing is highlighted with the portrait of Peter, who is photographed only once. The blank image next to him is a reminder that he died before the second portrait was made.

Each phase of human existence has characteristic traits and features, and photographers have worked with these qualities in ways that evoke the passing of time and our place in this cycle. Arranged in part in a human timeline, the exhibition begins with the start of a new life as depicted in Christine Godden’s Joanie pregnant (1972) and Joanie with Jade (1973) and concludes with Kusakabe Kimbei’s Ritual washing for a funeral (c.1880), an image of a deceased man being prepared in the traditional Japanese way for burial. This final scene captures the grief of the moment when a lifetime ends.

Frances Lindsay, Deputy Director, NGV said: “The works in the exhibition show how artists have explored the concept of time in ways that may surprise, move or even confront viewers. This exhibition provides visitors with a special opportunity to view this remarkable collection of photographs from the NGV Collection, many of which are on display for the first time.”

Timelines will include photographs by Micky Allan, Diane Arbus, Felice Beato, Bill Brandt, Brassaï, Harry Callahan, Imogen Cunningham, Walker Evans, Christine Godden, Ponch Hawkes, Petrina Hicks, Lewis Hine, Kusakabe Kimbei, Rosemary Laing, J.H. Lartigue, Ruth Maddison, Rod McNicol, David Moore, Jan Saudek, John Thompson, Roman Vishniac, and Edward Weston.”

Text from the National Gallery of Victoria International website

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Rosemary Laing
Australian 1959–
a dozen useless actions for grieving blondes #10
2009
type C photograph
76.3 x 132.1 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, Victorian Foundation for Living Australian Artists, 2010
© Rosemary Laing and Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne

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Rod McNicol
Australian 1946–
Jack
2006
from the A portrait revisited series 1986–2006
digital type C print
48.0 x 67.1 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, Victorian Foundation for Living Australian Artists, 2009
© Rod McNicol

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Ponch Hawkes
Australian 1946–
The watch that Lucy gave to Beci
1987, printed 1989
gelatin silver photograph
23.8 x 35.1 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased with funds donated by Hallmark Cards Australia Pty Ltd, 1989
© Ponch Hawkes

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David Moore
Australian 1927–2003
Outback children, South Australia
1963
gelatin silver photograph
36.8 x 57.6 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased through the KODAK (Australasia) Pty Ltd Fund, 1969
© David Moore Estate

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NGV International
180 St Kilda Road

Opening hours
10am – 5pm. Closed Tuesdays.

National Gallery of Victoria website

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1 Response to “Exhibition: ‘Timelines: Photography and Time’ at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne”


  1. September 19, 2010 at 9:15 am

    A lovely collection of images, I really want to see this now. I’d like to hear what you thought of the show too.


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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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