12
Jun
11

Review: ‘Trace’ by Murray Fredericks at Arc One Gallery, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 24th May – 18th June 2011

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Many thankx to Angela Connor for her help and to Arc One Gallery for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

Salt began in 2003 and is a series of photographs of vast empty landscapes. Each image in the series is connected by the placement of the horizon running across the lower third of the frame. The horizon is the only referential form, breaking the void and providing the viewer with an element that paradoxically ‘defines’ the space. These new works add another dimension to Salt, with the water from last year’s rains now creating scenes diametrically opposed to the work occupying the adjacent walls as Hector.

Hector draws its title from an affectionately name atmospheric phenomenon that produces some of the world’s biggest thunderstoms. These new black and white works employ Murray’s methodical consistency of composition with distinctly different outcomes to the Zen-like vistas of Salt. In these works the expanse of the storm is consciously contained and forced into a barometric battle with the invisible air at its limits for the place of subject within the photograph…

By juxtaposing these series, each viewer is at once placed outside the containers which harbor these landscapes of remote territories – one calm and one facing the eye of the storm – and at the same time place in the centre of Murray’s minimal, ethereal representations of these places. In this way we can trace his exploration into these subjects – capturing the moment is our witness to a reverence to land and country.”

Text from Arc One Gallery

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Murray Fredericks
Salt 271
2011
150 x 120 cm
Pigment print on cotton rag

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Murray Fredericks
Salt 273
2011
150 x 120 cm
Pigment print on cotton rag

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Murray Fredericks
Hector 10
2011
220 x 120 cm
Pigment print on cotton rag

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Murray Fredericks
Hector 11
2011
204 x 120 cm
Pigment print on cotton rag

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“Photographers tell me what I already know. The recognition of the beautiful, bizarre, or boring (the three photographic B’s) is not the problem. You would have to be a refrigerator not to be moved by the beauty of Yosemite. The problem is to deal with one’s total experience, emotionally as well as visually. Photographers should tell me what I don’t know.”

Duane Michals Real Dreams 1

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“While we cannot describe its appearance (the equivalent), we can define its function. When a photograph functions as an Equivalent we can say that at that moment, and for that person the photograph acts as a symbol or plays the role of a metaphor for something that is beyond the subject photographed.”

Minor White

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Fredericks new infrared panoramic works show the strength of nature at it’s finest (9 out of 10 to nature especially when see through this type of filtration), excellent technical skills and good printing somehow any revelation of spirit in the sublime has been lost in these photographs. The photographer does not take me anywhere, there is no new space to step into, another view of the world that I want to spend time with. The relationship between the two series is also nebulous, the critical ice/fire space between the works adding little frisson to the exhibition.

I ask: Is it sufficient to use a digital scientific infrared back, if for no other reason that it is there? Is it sufficient to know that these climatic conditions take place in the same area each day, at the same time, place the camera down and just capture the scene? Is there really a decisive moment in these photographs, a poetic insight, or is this just what was, literally, hanging around so to speak?

The answer to all three questions I leave up to the reader.

Personally, I need photography to push the boundaries of elusiveness through an understanding in revelation, not just through an understanding of space and form, light and colour. I believe that conventional patterns of perception are there to be broken in ways that disrupt the technologies of the self – the self-regulating of our senses, the conventions of cultural capital – but too what do we open ourselves up to? As Minor White says: ‘The sound of one hand clapping’.

While the photographs have the weight of serious equipment and professional acumen behind them after the initial awe on viewing they fall to earth, like the rainstorms they portray, a little flat. As with my earlier review of Salt they seem to be more about the photographer than any revelation of the thing being photographed. Duane Michals observes that, “The best artists give themselves in their work” but this giving is ego-less, the dropping away of the bells and whistles to let an’other’ emerge: in this sense I do not feel the total experience, emotionally as well as visually. Paul Strand said that it took him 10 years to start to become an artist, to let go of ego in his work; paradoxically after this the work became more his own.

For me, these photographs never become a metaphor for something that is beyond the subject being photographed.

Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

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Joseph Mallord William Turner
English, 1775-1851
Valley of Aosta: Snowstorm, Avalanche, and Thunderstorm
1836/37
Oil on canvas
36 1/4 x 48 in. (92.2 x 123 cm)
The Art Institute of Chicago: Frederick T. Haskell Collection

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1. Michals, Duane. Real Dreams 1976 [Online] Cited 08/06/2011.
http://classjump.com/martinhsphotography/documents/3929844572.pdf

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Arc One Gallery
45 Flinders Lane
Melbourne, 3000
T: (03) 9650 0589

Opening hours:
Tue – Sat 11am – 5pm

Arc One Gallery website

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Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Études’ 1994

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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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