Posts Tagged ‘light

24
Aug
17

Exhibition: ‘Bill Henson’ as part of the NGV Festival of Photography, NGV International, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 10th March – 27th August 2017

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955) 'Untitled #5' 2011/2012

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Installation view of Untitled #5
2011/2012
archival inkjet pigment print
180 × 127cm
Gift of William Donald Bowness through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2016
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955) 'Untitled #5' 2011/2012 (detail)

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Installation view of Untitled #5 (detail)
2011/2012
archival inkjet pigment print
180 × 127cm
Gift of William Donald Bowness through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2016
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

 

Masterclass

There is nothing that I need to add about the themes, re-sources and beauty of the photographs in this exhibition, than has not been commented on in Christopher Allen’s erudite piece of writing “Bill Henson images reflect the dark past at NGV” posted on The Australian website. It is all there for the reader:

“Figurative works like these, which invite an intense engagement because of our imaginative and affective response to beauty, are punctuated with landscapes that offer intervals of another kind of contemplation, a distant rather than close focus, an impersonal rather than a personal response, a meditation on time and space. …

Henson’s pictorial world is an intensely, almost hypnotically imaginative one, whose secret lies in a unique combination of closeness and distance. He draws on the deep affective power of physical beauty, and particularly the sexually ambiguous, often almost androgynous beauty of the young body, filled with a kind of potential energy, but not yet fully actualised. Yet these bodies are distanced and abstracted by their sculptural, nearly monochrome treatment, and transformed by a kind of alchemical synthesis with the ideal, poetic bodies of art. …

The figures are bewitching but withdraw like mirages, disembodied at the sensual level, only to be merged with the images of memory, the echoes of great works of the past, and to be reborn from the imagination as if some ancient sculpture were arising from darkness into the light of a new life.”

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What I can add are some further observations. Henson is not so serious as to miss sharing a joke with his audience, as when the elbow of the classical statue in Untitled 2008/09 is mimicked in the background by the elbow of a figure. Henson is also a masterful storyteller, something that is rarely mentioned in comment upon his work. When you physically see this exhibition – the flow of the images, the juxtaposition of landscape and figurative works, the lighting of the work as the photographs emerge out of the darkness – all this produces such a sensation in the viewer that you are taken upon a journey into your soul. I was intensely moved by this work, by the bruised and battered bodies so much in love, that they almost took my breath away.

Another point of interest is the relationship between the philanthropist, the artist and the gallery. Due to the extraordinary generosity of Bill Bowness, whose gift of twenty-one photographs by Henson makes the NGV’s collection of his work the most significant of any public institution, the gallery was able to stage this exhibition. This is how art philanthropy should work: a private collector passionate about an artist’s work donating to an important institution to benefit both the artist, the institution and the art viewing public.

But then all this good work is undone in the promotion of the exhibition. I was supplied with the media images: five landscape images supplemented by five installation images of the same photographs. Despite requests for images of the figurative works they were not forthcoming. So I took my own.

We all know of the sensitivity around the work of Henson after his brush with the law in 2008, but if you are going to welcome 21 photographs into your collection, and stage a major exhibition of the donated work… then please have the courage of your convictions and provide media images of the ALL the work for people to see. For fear of offending the prurient right, the obsequiousness of the gallery belittles the whole enterprise.

If this artist was living in New York, London or Paris he would be having major retrospectives of his work, for I believe that Bill Henson is one of the greatest living photographers of his generation.

Marcus

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Many thankx to the National Gallery of Victoria for allowing me to publish the images in the posting and supplying the media images (the images after the press release). All other images are © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria.

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Bill Henson' at the National Gallery of Victoria Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Installation view of the exhibition Bill Henson at the National Gallery of Victoria with at left, Untitled #35 2009/2010 and at right, Untitled #8 2008/2009
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955) 'Untitled #35' 2009/2010

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Installation view of Untitled #35
2009/2010
archival inkjet pigment print
127 × 180cm
Gift of William Donald Bowness through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2016
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955) 'Untitled #8' 2008/2009

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Installation view of Untitled #8
2008/2009
archival inkjet pigment print
180 × 127cm
Gift of William Donald Bowness through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2016
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Bill Henson' at the National Gallery of Victoria Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Installation view of the exhibition Bill Henson at the National Gallery of Victoria
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955) 'Untitled #1' 2010/2011

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Installation view of Untitled #1
2010/2011
archival inkjet pigment print
127 × 180cm
Gift of William Donald Bowness through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2016
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Bill Henson' at the National Gallery of Victoria Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan and the National Gallery of Victoria

Installation view of the exhibition 'Bill Henson' at the National Gallery of Victoria Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Installation views of the exhibition Bill Henson at the National Gallery of Victoria
Photos: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Bill Henson' at the National Gallery of Victoria © Dr Marcus Bunyan and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Installation view of the exhibition Bill Henson at the National Gallery of Victoria with at left, Untitled 2010/2011 and at right, Untitled #9 2008/2009
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955) 'Untitled' 2010/2011

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Installation view of Untitled
2010/2011
archival inkjet pigment print
127 × 180cm
Gift of William Donald Bowness through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2016
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955) 'Untitled #9' 2008/2009

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Installation view of Untitled #9
2008/2009
archival inkjet pigment print
127 × 180cm
Gift of William Donald Bowness through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2016
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955) 'Untitled' 2010/2011

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Installation view of Untitled
2010/2011
archival inkjet pigment print
127 × 180cm
Gift of William Donald Bowness through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2016
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Bill Henson' at the National Gallery of Victoria Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Installation view of the exhibition Bill Henson at the National Gallery of Victoria
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Bill Henson' at the National Gallery of Victoria © Dr Marcus Bunyan and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Installation view of the exhibition Bill Henson at the National Gallery of Victoria with at left, Untitled #2 2010/2011 and at right, Untitled #10 2011/2012
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955) 'Untitled #2' 2010/2011

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Installation view of Untitled #2
2010/2011
archival inkjet pigment print
127 × 180cm
Gift of William Donald Bowness through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2016
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955) 'Untitled #10' 2011/2012 (detail)

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Installation view of Untitled #10 (detail)
2011/2012
archival inkjet pigment print
127 × 180cm
Gift of William Donald Bowness through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2016
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955) 'Untitled #3' 2008/2009

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Installation view of Untitled #3
2008/2009
archival inkjet pigment print
127 × 180cm
Gift of William Donald Bowness through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2016
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Bill Henson' at the National Gallery of Victoria Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Installation view of the exhibition Bill Henson at the National Gallery of Victoria
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Bill Henson' at the National Gallery of Victoria Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Installation view of the exhibition Bill Henson at the National Gallery of Victoria with at left, Untitled #16 2009/10 and at right, Untitled #10 2008/2009
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955) 'Untitled #10' 2008/2009

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Installation view of Untitled #10
2008/2009
archival inkjet pigment print
127 × 180cm
Gift of William Donald Bowness through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2016
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955) 'Untitled #5' 2011/2012

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Installation view of Untitled #5
2011/2012
archival inkjet pigment print
180 × 127cm
Gift of William Donald Bowness through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2016
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955) 'Untitled #15' 2008/2009

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Installation view of Untitled #15
2008/2009
archival inkjet pigment print
127 × 180cm
Gift of William Donald Bowness through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2016
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955) 'Untitled' 2012/13

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Installation view of Untitled
2012/13
archival inkjet pigment print
Gift of William Donald Bowness through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2016
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955) 'Untitled' 2012/13 (detail)

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Installation view of Untitled (detail)
2012/13
archival inkjet pigment print
Gift of William Donald Bowness through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2016
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955) 'Untitled' 2012/13 (detail)

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Installation view of Untitled (detail)
2012/13
archival inkjet pigment print
Gift of William Donald Bowness through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2016
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Bill Henson. 'Untitled #2' 2009/2010 (detail)

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Installation view of Untitled #2 (detail)
2009/2010
archival inkjet pigment print
127 × 180cm
Gift of William Donald Bowness through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2016
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Dr Marcus Bunyan in front of Bill Henson's 'Untitled' 2009/10

 

Dr Marcus Bunyan in front of Bill Henson’s Untitled 2009/10 which features Rembrandt’s The return of the prodigal son c. 1662 which is in The Hermitage, St. Petersburg
Photo: Jeff Whitehead

 

 

The solo exhibition, Bill Henson, will showcase recent works by the Australian photographer, who is celebrated for his powerful images that sensitively explore the complexities of the human condition.

The exhibition brings together twenty-three photographs selected by the artist, traversing the key themes in the artist’s oeuvre, including sublime landscapes, portraiture, as well as classical sculpture captured in museum settings.

Inviting contemplation, Henson’s works present open-ended narratives and capture an intriguing sense of the transitory. Henson’s portraits show his subjects as introspective, focused on internal thoughts and dreams; his landscapes are photographed during the transitional moment of twilight; and the images shot on location inside museums juxtapose graceful marble statues against the transfixed visitors observing them.

Henson’s work is renowned for creating a powerful sense of mystery and ambiguity through the use of velvet-like blackness in the shadows. This is achieved through the striking use of chiaroscuro, an effect of contrasting light and shadow, which is used to selectively obscure and reveal the form of the human body, sculptures and the landscape itself.

“Henson’s photographs have a palpable sense of the cinematic and together they form a powerful and enigmatic visual statement,” said Tony Ellwood, Director, NGV. “The NGV mounted Bill Henson’s first solo exhibition in 1975 when Henson was only 19. Over forty years later, audiences to the NGV will be captivated by the beauty of Henson’s images once more,” said Ellwood.

On display at the National Gallery of Victoria as part of the inaugural NGV Festival of Photography, the exhibition has been made possible by the extraordinary generosity of Bill Bowness, whose gift of twenty-one photographs by Henson makes the NGV’s collection of his work the most significant of any public institution.

Press release from the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955) 'Untitled 2008/09'

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Untitled 2008/09
2008-2009
Inkjet print
127 x 180 cm
© Bill Henson

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Bill Henson' at the National Gallery of Victoria. Presented as part of the NGV Festival of Photography Photo by Sean Fennessy

 

Installation view of the exhibition Bill Henson at the National Gallery of Victoria. Presented as part of the NGV Festival of Photography
Photo: Sean Fennessy

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955) 'Untitled 2008/09'

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Untitled 2008/09
2008-2009
Inkjet print
127 x 180 cm
© Bill Henson

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955) 'Untiled 2009/10'

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Untiled 2009/10
2009-2010
Inkjet print
102.1 x 152.0 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, Victorian Foundation for Living Australia Artist, 2012
© Bill Henson

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955) 'Untiled 2009/10'

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Untiled 2009/10
2009-2010
Inkjet print
102.1 x 152.0 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, Victorian Foundation for Living Australia Artist, 2011
© Bill Henson

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Bill Henson' at the National Gallery of Victoria. Presented as part of the NGV Festival of Photography Photo by Wayne Taylor

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Installation view of Untiled 2009/10
2009-2010
Inkjet print
102.1 x 152.0 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, Victorian Foundation for Living Australia Artist, 2011
© Bill Henson

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Bill Henson' at the National Gallery of Victoria. Presented as part of the NGV Festival of Photography

 

Installation view of the exhibition Bill Henson at the National Gallery of Victoria. Presented as part of the NGV Festival of Photography
Photo: Wayne Taylor

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955) 'Untitled 2008/09'

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Untitled 2008/09
2008-2009
Inkjet print
127 x 180 cm
© Bill Henson

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Bill Henson' at the National Gallery of Victoria. Presented as part of the NGV Festival of Photography

 

Installation view of the exhibition Bill Henson at the National Gallery of Victoria. Presented as part of the NGV Festival of Photography
Photo: Sean Fennessy

 

 

NGV International
180 St Kilda Road

Opening hours:
10am – 5pm, closed Tuesdays

National Gallery of Victoria website

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22
Sep
12

Review: ‘Jenny Reddin: The Art of Catastrophe’ at Anita Traverso Gallery, Richmond

Exhibition dates: 5th September – 29th September 2012

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“Each epoch dreams the one to follow, creates it in dreaming”

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Jules Michelet

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“Each epoch dreams of itself as annihilated by catastrophes”

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Theodor Adorno

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A star is born

The origin of the word catastrophe is Greek (kata + strophein) and its literal meaning was “overturn”. According to its definition, it is an event that causes trauma due to its capacity to destroy most of a community. Catastrophes are extreme events that affect a large number of victims in the affected community, and are easily identified as events that cause physical suffering.1 The use of words such as disaster (origin in the Italian word disastro (dis + astro, “bad star”)) and catastrophe create the idea of a “disaster taxonomy,” one which is based on the principle that there are variable emotional responses that depend on the type of disaster, the degree of personal impact, the size of the group affected, and the geographical and temporal range of the event.2 These pure words define the event itself and the havoc they wreak without incorporating the perceptions of the victims; in other words they are an objective reflection on the subjective performativity of the act itself.

Catastrophes fascinate humans as they clearly show them the limits of their own existence. The dystopian catastrophe challenges the temporal linearity of a utopian dreaming in which the darkness of the lived moment is illuminated by the anticipatory daydreams of the “not-yet-conscious” future. What catastrophe codes is a dialectical relation to Utopianism, a rejection of the holistic vision of an anticipatory consciousness of a utopian future. As Matthew Charles observes,

“The catastrophic signifies the dialectical intrusion of the whole of history (including the present in which it is represented) into the construction epoch, and by extension the whole of the epoch into the life of the artist, and the whole life of the artist into a particular work. Benjamin’s messianic account of the experience of truth imposes the theological concepts of the infinite, fulfilled and perfected state of the world into the immanence of finite, particular, existing phenomenon. In this way, the intrusion of the historical Absolute contributes to the catastrophic ruination of the work.”3

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As can be seen in the Jenny Reddin’s artist statement, the whole of the artist’s history is bound up in the creation of the work. The infinite possibilities of a subjective understanding of truth are bound together with the immanence of finite, particular, existing phenomenon, that of the art of catastrophe, the objective presentation of ruination, in the art itself. Reddin’s anticipatory daydreams become an anticipatory illumination as an image, a constellation, a configuration tied closely to the idea of the concrete/fluid utopic/dystopic landscapes of the body and the earth. Reddin’s paintings work at both a macro and micro level, a phenomenon that is cross-disciplinary like the phenomenon of catastrophe itself. The work reminds me of cellular structures at the micro level (cross-sections of diseased kidneys, the veins of the heart or scientific slides of blood cells) and of aerial views of the earth at the macro level (alluvial deltas and views of open cast mines). They balance beauty with serendipity, the manipulation of the “flow” of paint (from one point in time to many points) that captures light, the light of the cosmos and of the subconscious. These magnificent works of art have emerged from the artist’s life – much as Immanuel Velikovsky argued that the planet Venus is a former “comet” which was ejected from Jupiter – in an act of catastrophic creation. They are dreaming of the future and yet also dreaming of catastrophe. 

Running with these ideas you might argue that these dream images are both an act of emergence and an emergency, a catastrophe. For some thinkers the sociology of emergences aims to identify and enlarge the signs of possible future experiences, under the guise of tendencies and latencies, that are actively ignored by hegemonic rationality and knowledge. For Ernst Bloch the concept of The Not Yet, “is the way in which the future is inscribed in the present. It is not an indeterminate or infinite future, rather a concrete possibility and a capacity that neither exists in a vacuum nor are completely predetermined. Subjectively, the Not Yet is anticipatory consciousness, a form of consciousness that is extremely important in people’s lives. Objectively, the Not Yet is, on the one hand, capacity (potency) and, on the other, possibility (potentiality).”4

Here the field of possibility has a dimension of darkness (disaster) as it originates in the lived moment whilst the sociology of emergences inquires into the alternatives that are contained in the horizon of concrete, utopian possibilities in order to identify therein the tendencies of the future (the Not Yet): the light of the future. Hence these images contain both emergency (of the catastrophe, of the lived moment) and an emergence (into the future). A (bad) star is born. I also believe that in this artist another star has been born, one that will shine strongly in future dreamings.

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Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

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

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Jenny Reddin
Caught in an Effervescent Breeze
2012
Oil on canvas
122 x 122 cm

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Jenny Reddin
Ms. Broadhurst’s Poppy
2012
Oil on canvas
122 x 122 cm

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Jenny Reddin
A Shifting Reality
2012
Mixes media on linen
137 x 122 cm

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“At the heart of a catastrophe there is a massive burst of energy. Jenny Reddin’s works seek to capture that energy in an alchemic process that involves the dissolving of pigments in various solutions and pouring the viscous mixes onto prepared structures. Due to the varying specific gravities the pigments drop out at different rates offering alternately dry, textured or smooth, mirror-like fields. This series presents works inspired by the natural phenomenon and the interaction of the human form, capturing the juxtaposition of the beauty of the Australian country with the ongoing cycle of natural catastrophe.”

Text from the gallery website

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“I have been painting for around 14 years. At a time when I should have been at Art School, I was studying for a bachelor of business. When I should have been exhibiting my work, I was running a consulting practice and managing people. It wasn’t until my husband and I adopted a little girl from India that I was able to take the time to explore my creative side. I have been painting ever since.

Catastrophe plays an important role in my life. I am an idea, act, plan person in everything I do. It’s how I live my life and it’s how I paint. I had to make a decision early on in my painting career that I either learned to celebrate the spontaneous nature of catastrophes or go mad trying to paint in a conventional manner. I found also that it was becoming increasingly important for me to find my own style and form of expression. I would cringe when people would compliment me by telling me that a work looked just like a Fred Williams or a John Olsen.

To a large extent, I have had to learn to paint from the subconscious. The more deliberate and planned I am at the commencement of a work, the less spontaneous and evocative the result. I go through what feels like long periods where the works are muddy and unsatisfying and I have to rip off the canvas and start again. I usually find when I take the time to analyse why, I have been trying to force an outcome and then all of a sudden, as my consciousness steps back and my subconscious takes over, they work.

Catastrophe is a piece that was painted early this year. It is a good example of the elements that I am looking for in my work, drama and light. The dramatic effect is created by dissolving pigments in viscous solvent solutions and then pouring them onto prepared canvas supports. I often pour two and three colours together so that they bump into each other creating riverlets and craters as the pigments drop out of solution at different rates. Light is captured by manipulating the flow of paint to trap sections of blank, white canvas which to my eye increase the sense of drama and luminance of the work.

It’s hard to say who inspires my work because I am unaware of anyone else painting in quite the same way. What I take from other artists would be honesty and integrity from artists such as Andy Goldsworthy; simplicity of form from the likes of Anthony Gormley and Antonio Tapies; the love of limited palette from Godwin Bradbeer; the beauty of gesture and rhythm from Yvonne Audette and Susan Rothenburg.”

Jenny Reddin’s opening speech at the exhibition The Art of Catastrophe

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Jenny Reddin
Space within space within space
2012
Oil in linen
122 x 122 cm

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Jenny Reddin
Amillaria
2012
Oil on canvas
120 x 100 cm

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Jenny Reddin
Suspended Journey
2012
Oil on linen
138 x 97 cm

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1. Braga, Luciana L., Fiks, Jose P., Mari, Jair J. and Mello, Marcelo F. “The importance of the concepts of disaster, catastrophe, violence, trauma and barbarism in defining posttraumatic stress disorder in clinical practice,” in BMC Psychiatry 2008, 8:68 [Online] Cited 22/09/2012

2. Ibid.,

3. Charles, Matthew. “The Future is History: Dreams of Catastrophe in Ernst Bloch and Walter Benjamin,” Proceedings of the No Future
conference, Institute of Advanced Studies, Durham University, 25-27 March 2011 [Online] Cited 22/09/2012.

4. Anon. “Sociology of Emergences,” on the P2P Foundation website [Online] Cited 22/09/2012.

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Anita Traverso Gallery
7, Albert Street
Richmond, Vic 3121

Opening hours:
Wed – Sat 11 – 5

Anita Traverso Gallery website

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28
Jun
12

Exhibition: ‘Light in Space’ by Veronica Caven Aldous at Stephen McLaughlan Gallery, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 13th June – 30th June 2012

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Apologies for the late posting but I only saw this exhibition recently. I met the artist, the delightful Veronica Caven Aldous and her work is stunning.

The works are emotive; like Brancusi’s Bird in Space they soar. Here is not the reductive coldness of a Dan Flavin but a truly hypnotic, meditative experience. The light is like visible music. I said to Veronica in my mind I have associations to the work of Josef Albers and his experiments with colour in the Homage to the Square series. But these works are uniquely her own, with their links to mysticism, India and the East.

The first series, Light in space 1, is truly beautiful as you sit watching in the darkened gallery. Still images can’t really do these vivid, liquid, mesmerising colour field sculptures justice, so I made a little

Flash movie of Light in space 1

to give you an idea of the moving work. The second series, Light in space 2, is also intensely beautiful in a different way, the computerised light boxes contained within aluminium cases. Depending at which angle you look the depth of field of the illusion changes leading to spaces of infinite r/egress (in computer networking, egress filtering is the monitoring and/or restricting the flow of outbound information). The light is both contained and extrapolated within the grids leading to an almost Escher-like enigma of light and energy.

These are splendid works. Whenever I want to have one on my wall at home I know I have struck gold. Go see them while you still can in the last two days of the exhibition. Magic.

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Many thankx to Veronica Caven Aldous and Stephen McLaughlan Gallery for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. The exhibition is still on Friday 29th June 1 – 5 pm and Saturday 30th June 11 am – 5 pm or by appointment 0407 317 323.

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Veronica Caven Aldous
Light in space 1
2010 – 11
A Blue field, 2010, Computerised LED light boxes and Perspex, 22 x 30 x 3 cm
B Magenta field, 2011, Computerised LED light boxes and Perspex, 43 x 59 x 3 cm
C Yellow field, 2011, Computerised LED light boxes and Perspex, 43 x 30 x 3 cm
D Green field, 2011, Computerised LED light boxes and Perspex, 22 x 59 x 3 cm
E Orange field, 2010, Computerised LED light boxes and Perspex, 22 x 30 x 3 cm
F Purple field, Computerised LED light boxes and Perspex, 22 x 30 x 3 cm

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Light from these computerised LED light boxes on the wall and floor act as intervention in space. It is not so much about the colour but the changing light in space that sets up a sense of flux. It is about change and that we see nothing without light. “The wonder of light: the universe consists mainly of invisible matter… only four to five percent of the universe is visible. 23 percent is dark matter, and 73 percent is dark energy.”

Artist statement

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Veronica Caven Aldous
Light in space 2
2011
A 2 x 2, 2011, Computerised LED light boxes in metal frame, 52 x 52 x 10 cm
B 3 x 3, 2011, Computerised LED light boxes in metal frame, 75 x 75 x 10 cm
C 3 x 3, 2011, Computerised LED light boxes in metal frame, 75 x 75 x 10 cm

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Stephen McLaughlan Gallery
Level 8 Room 16 Nicholas Building
37 Swanston Street Melbourne 3000
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18
Jul
10

Text: ‘How to Understand the Light on a Landscape’ (2005) by Pablo Helguera

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I have managed to track down the artist and author Pablo Helguera (after I quoted his words in the review on the work of Jill Orr) and obtain permission to publish his wonderful text ‘How to Understand the light on a Landscape’ taken from a video work of 2005.

Many, many thankx to Pablo Helguera for allowing my to publish the text and photographs below. The permission is truly appreciated. The text is beautiful, insightful – a must for any artist who wishes to understand the condition of light on a landscape.

Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image. Text and photographs © Pablo Helguera

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“How to Understand the Light on a Landscape (video, 15 min., 2005) is a work that simulates a scientific documentary about light to discuss the experiential aspects of light as triggered by memory. The images and text below, taken from the video, are part of the book published by the Institute of Cultural Inquiry, entitled ‘Searching for Sebald: Photography After W.G. Sebald’ edited by Lise Patt, 2007, pp.110 – 119.”

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“To understand is to forget about loving.”

Fernando Pessoa

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For Luis Ignacio Helguera Soiné (1926-2005)

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LIGHT is understood as the electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength that is visible to the eye. Yet, the precise nature of light, and the way it affects matter, is one of the key questions of modern physics.

Due to wave-particle duality, light simultaneously exhibits properties of both waves and particles that affect a physical space. There are many sources of light. A body at a given temperature will emit a characteristic spectrum known as black body radiation. The conjunction of a body present in the landscape, along with the interaction of the light in the environment, produces an effect that in modern psychology we describe as experience.

The conjunction of a random site, the accumulated data in the body’s memory that is linked to emotion, and the general behavior of light form experience. Experience is triggered by light, but not exclusively by the visible light of the electromagnetic spectrum. What the human eye is incapable to perceive is absorbed by other sensory parts of the body, which contribute to the perception that light causes an effect that goes beyond the merely visual.

In our life span, we witness only a few limited emission incidents of light that intersect with spontaneous receptivity of memory in specific places. They happen selectively and in rapid sequences, at night, when a door opens, when we are very young, when we drop off someone at the airport. They all, however, are inscribed by the behavior of light. As we age and our receptivity declines, our eyes and body become denser material through which there is a reduction of the speed of light, known as a decline in the refractive index of memory.

The extent of the breeding behavior of EXPERIENTIAL LIGHT is determined by the amount of cyclical phenomena we have experienced, such as the slight humidity that signals the transition of spring into summer. The refractive index of memory is mostly marked by the unusually happy or sad periods of our lives, and the slow decline that gradually dominates our perception. Forgetfulness gradually inhibits the experience of light, and cannot be reversed.

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The glow of heaviness, commonly known as SOMBER LIGHT, appears in urban solitude and often towards the end of the day. It is a particularly cruel light to experience, as it stimulates attractive visions, like the singing of two women on a radiant evening but it then reveals hidden anxieties that we may have about the end of things, as Homer describes the fatal singing of the mermaids.

HOME LIGHT is too familiar to be seen. It is the kind of light that we first saw when we were born and we always recognize, but often take for granted. Home light is highly volatile light, and it often vanishes when it is named, as a dream that ends when we dream that we are dreaming. There is no point in explaining this light, because it is too familiar to the owner and too alien to all others. Yet a high experiential index is evident when it’s there, ready to envelop us when we encounter it again wherever we go. We can only know that we all have this kind of light in ourselves, as if in our pockets, ready to come out at a critical moment.

There is the shining of large breath, full of itself, that enters with grandeur into a landscape, uninvited, taking over the logic of everything, promoting the conjunction of belief and fragility. It creates mythologies, and the belief that there is something greater than us in a time that is ungraspable or far larger than our minuscule time in this world.

There is also a glow known as GHOST LIGHT that can only be seen, like some apparitions, in photographs, especially the snapshots taken by those who went through a long trip or extenuating circumstances in their lives, such as returning from a bloody war, escaping hunger and threat. It expresses an image of lonely liberty, where all is in order but there is little that can be enjoyed with that order, as if what happened before had affected the future of it all. It functions like a Swiss clock, harmonious but predictable.

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There is the light of the deathbed,
that lingers on for a long time after the incident,
and often takes the appearance of a rainy day

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There is the LIGHT OF THE DEATHBED, that lingers on for a long time after the incident, and often takes the appearance of a rainy day, even many years later, like the widow that will hold on to wearing black. It is a refracting light, the light of the permanent finality of the moment that often creates the impression of letting us know something that we didn’t know, just like an unopened letter found after many years. Its extremely old waves appear to have a cool breeze, as if ready to inspire a Flemish painting.

Those who once read long 19th century novels often recognize RAIN LIGHT. It is often seen from a train in motion, when it is arriving to a station that is not our destination, and yet we feel there is something we are leaving behind, as if we had indeed lived another life, or had developed a sense of belonging to those who we see getting off.

But there is also a tired glow on a cloudy summer afternoon right before or during lunchtime, one that emerges after strenuous work by others but that we see when we are doing nothing, or when we are resting. It is also similar to the light of the movie matinee that we see with the fascination of remembering that it is still daytime after we came from darkness. It also reminds us of food we ate a long time ago and the extinct products and fashions from the time when we were kids.

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There is a PROTECTIVE LIGHT that reminds us of the womb, of the time where we were completely protected. This light inspires endless nostalgic yearning to attain that protection again. Our obsession with protective light prevents us from growing and makes us fear change. We wish we could be like that woman in a distant small city who was born, married, and died on the same street. It is true that no velocity and amount of experience can compare with the accumulated placement of experience in a single spot. But due to the impossibility of being able to replace protective light, these attempts derive in the light of the tourist, taking the same image all around the world, seeking comfort in every place when in reality there is no comfort to be had.

Another source of satisfaction is the working light that signals many events that take place on an everyday basis, like business lunches in city cafeterias, like going to the post office, like all the activity proper of the midday urban sprawl, a dynamic, powerful light, with the enthusiasm and perhaps strange mixture of happiness and melancholy we used to feel in school when we were finally off for vacations but we would not get to see our high school crush for the rest of the summer. We will know how to recognize this sunlight when we see it slowly crawl through the walls until it disappears completely.

There is of course the ARTIFICIAL LIGHT. It is a light for waiting, a transitory light that creates the impression that the actual moment doesn’t exist but rather a joining of procedures that take us from one place to another, which we call the obligations of life.

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We wish we could be like that woman in a distant small city
who was born, married, and died on the same street.
It is true that no velocity and amount of experience can compare with
the accumulated placement of experience in a single spot.

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ARTIFICIAL LIGHT crawls into our lives, and we tend to also see it on the outdoors, sometimes exchanging it mentally for real sunlight. It makes us feel that every place is the same to us because we are the same. Under artificial light, the strangers that we see in the street soon start looking eerily familiar to us.

This is the LIGHT OF THE TRULY BLIND, where unreality is a perfectly kept lawn, an undisturbed peace, and an organized tour to an exotic location where nothing happens. This light constructed by official human communication is an empty airport, a constant waiting room full of scheduled departures with no one in the planes and plenty of flight simulations.

There is the LIGHT OF ADOLESCENCE, a blinding light that is similar to the one we feel when we are asleep facing the sun and we feel its warmth but don’t see it directly. Sometimes it marks the unplace, perhaps the commonality of all places or perhaps, for those who are pessimists, the unplaceness of every location.

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There is a SUNDAY LIGHT, profoundly euphoric and unsettling, both because it reminds us of leisure but also of Monday’s obligations; it is the one we used to read comic strips with, while eating pancakes outdoors, or go to the store to buy coffee or watch the sports on TV, a trustworthy companion light that seems to last, creating clear shadows and warmth as well as a confident sense of the present – it is the only light that we enjoy regardless of our age and never want it to ever go away.

There is a HOTEL LIGHT, of transitory nature, that generates unexpected and intense responses especially to those whose happier memories have taken place at the garden or swimming pool of a hotel. It often talks of fantasy worlds that are real just because we let ourselves fall into the fantasy they offer, parentheses of light that can well be captured in a snapshot.

Sometimes we experience the LIGHT OF THE LAST DAY, a kind of light that takes form during farewells or moments of consciousness when we know that what we are looking at that moment shall never be repeated, and that years from now we will be recalling that moment. Moments of memory that are memories even in the moments when we live them.

There is USED LIGHT, light that has been lived by others, and we are always left with the impression that we missed something important, like listening only to the very end of a certain conversation, our constant expectation of a phone call that never arrived, or the obsessive possibilities of an unrequited love.

Or the NARRATED LIGHT, the one that we only know by description and think that we recognize it when we see it when it may always be an impossibility to get a glimpse of its wilderness. It is a light of induced learning, as when we inherit memories from others to the point of believing that they are memories of our own.

And it is in this light where that which is the farthest can suddenly appear very familiar, even if we are in a medieval museum entering into the least observed gallery, when we feel that we share a private life with the people from that time and we see them in our dreams as hybrid beings of flesh and the corroded wood of a sculpted saint.

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Sometimes we experience the light of the last day …
Moments of memory that are memories
even in the moments when we live them.

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With this light we can also recall the thousands of pictures taken by our grandparents during their honeymoon in Europe, landscapes and sunsets accumulated in tin boxes for half a century.

Few are able to perceive TRANSPARENT LIGHT, a light that hurts for unknown reasons, perhaps because it is so clear that it allows us to see too much or because it stings our consciousness, awakening images that we may prefer to forget.

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And on the other end of the spectrum, there is the AFTER LIGHT, a light of the past, which are echoes from past experiences so intense that they sometimes appear in front of us in the form of unexpected shadows. They hide on clear days under the roofs of houses. It is believed to be the same light seen by people we knew many years ago that survives like a message in a bottle, but always in a precarious way and often vanishes into thin air.

Light likes to introduce trouble and ask questions, forcing us to reconcile our thoughts and decide how we feel – our mind makes photosynthesis out of its particles and we feel we grow or diminish with it, going to sleep when there is no light, waking up when the light comes back.

But ultimately, and given that our perception is generally faulty and dependent on random associations, it is useless to try to categorize the different species of light on the basis of personal experience as we do here, or to speak about a zoology of light that results from the conjunction of landscapes and moving observers.

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There is no spirit, but rather a weak string of perceptions,
a line of coded language that writes a book to be read only by ourselves,
and be given meaning by ourselves and to ourselves.

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The intersection of our body with the light and the landscape and the coded form of language that we have to construct by ourselves and explain to ourselves is our daily ordeal, and we are free to choose to ignore and live without it, because there is nothing we can do with this language other than talking to ourselves. There is no point in trying to explain it to others because it is not designed to be this way, other than remaining a remote, if equivalent, language.

Some for that reason prefer to construct empty spaces with nondescript imagery, and thus be free of the seductive and nostalgic undecipherability of the landscape and the light.

Or we may choose to openly embrace the darkness of light, and thus let ourselves through the great gates of placehood, where we can finally accept the unexplainable concreteness of our moments for what they are. There is no spirit, but rather a weak string of perceptions, a line of coded language that writes a book to be read only by ourselves, and be given meaning by ourselves and to ourselves.

When we know that we can’t truly speak about what we experience, we now arrive to the edge of our understanding and the edge of our meanings. While on the other side we may encounter others to talk to, they are much farther than we think, while we are firmly set in here, holding on perhaps to one single image of which we may only continue to hope to decode its meaning up to the very last day when our memory serves our mind, and our mind serves our feelings.”

Text from the Pablo Helguera Archive

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Pablo Helguera website

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18
May
09

Exhibition: ‘Light Years: Photography and Space’ at the National Gallery of Victoria International, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 8th May – 27th September, 2009

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A small but fun show at NGV International, Melbourne that is drawing in the crowds. A selection of beautiful, breathtaking images from NASA really takes you into space. I had a great time researching and finding the images from the exhibition on the NASA Images website!

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Neil Armstrong. 'Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, lunar module pilot, walks on the surface of the Moon near the leg of the Lunar Module (LM)' 1969

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Neil Armstrong
‘Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, lunar module pilot, walks on the surface of the Moon near the leg of the Lunar Module (LM)’
1969

Note the reflection of the shadow of the astronaut, the photographer and the leg of the LM in the visor of Buzz Aldrin.

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“In 1948, the British astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle speculated that “Once a photograph of the Earth, taken from outside, is available, we shall, in an emotional sense, acquire an additional dimension … and a new idea as powerful as any in history will be let loose.” Hoyle encapsulated the immense anticipation that was felt in the mid-twentieth century, when the idea of leaving Earth and viewing it from afar was on the verge of becoming reality.

When astronauts and spacecraft began exploring our solar system, it was the photographs from these voyages which visualised the reality of the epic feats of science, engineering and human imagination. These photographs transcended a strictly scientific purpose and depicted scenes of unexpected and sublime beauty.

This exhibition brings together works from the permanent collection of the National Gallery of Victoria that depict space travel, seen in archival images from NASA, space allegories, and altered perceptions of reality inspired by ideas of science and space. These photographs also show a fascination with light, as both the means and the subject of the image.

The exhibition focuses largely on the 1960s and 1970s – an exciting time for the artistic and scientific exploration of worlds beyond our own. These were ‘light years’, in which people looked up to the skies and beyond, in a real and an imagined sense, and through photography discovered additional dimensions.”

Text from the NGV International website

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Raymond De Berquelle. 'Where do you come from? Planet Earth (Self-portrait with radio telescope)' 1968

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Raymond De Berquelle
‘Where do you come from? Planet Earth (Self-portrait with radio telescope)’
1968

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John Wilkins. 'Alien Icicle' c. 1970

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John Wilkins
‘Alien Icicle’
c. 1970

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Charles Conrad. 'Astronaut Bean, Apollo XII, November 1969, on moon' 1969

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Charles Conrad
‘Astronaut Bean, Apollo XII, November 1969, on moon’
1969

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‘Light Years: Photography and Space‘ will feature around 50 works drawn entirely from the NGV Collection. Focusing largely on the 1960s and ‘70s, the exhibition will include photographs taken during early NASA missions. The exhibition celebrates the International Year of Astronomy and the 40th anniversary of the first Moon walk.

Maggie Finch, Assistant Curator, Photography, NGV said that cameras were used to give form to both the fantasies and realities of space travel, revealing extra dimensions and animating space.

“The 1960s and ‘70s were an exciting time for the artistic and scientific exploration of worlds beyond our own. They were ‘light years’ in which people looked up to the skies and beyond, in a real and an imagined sense, and through photography discovered additional dimensions. The photographs in Light Years represent a giant leap forward in the collective journey into space. They retain the extraordinary sense of awe and wonderment that encapsulates our first encounters with a larger universe,” said Ms Finch.

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Pioneer 11. 'Image of Saturn and it's Moon Titan' 1979

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Pioneer 11
‘Image of Saturn and it’s moon Titan’
1979

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Voyager 1. 'Photocollage of Jupiter and its four moons' 1979

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Voyager 1
‘Photocollage of Jupiter and its four moons’
1979

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Apollo 12. 'View of two U.S. spacecraft on the surface of the moon, taken during the second Apollo 12 extravehicular activity (EVA-2)' 1969

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Apollo 12
‘View of two U.S. spacecraft on the surface of the moon, taken during the second Apollo 12 extravehicular activity (EVA-2)’
1969

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A highlight of the exhibition is a collection of more than 30 NASA photographs, on display for the first time in over twenty years. Among the NASA selection are many celebrated space photographs, including the iconic image of Edwin E. (Buzz) Aldrin, Jr standing on the lunar surface, taken in 1969 by Neil Armstrong, the first man to step foot on the Moon.

These remarkable photographs will be on display alongside works by Sir George Pollock, John Wilkins Raymond de Berquelle, Dacre Stubbs, Val Foreman, Susan Fereday, Olive Cotton and Ronnie van Hout – artists who have been inspired by, and have responded to, the mysteries of space and science.

Frances Lindsay, Deputy Director, NGV said: “The photography from the NASA missions of the 1960s and ‘70s has a fascinating yet nostalgic quality, particularly when one considers the advances in both science and photographic technology since that time. These early photographs of space changed our awareness and offered a new understanding of the Earth, the universe and our shared existence within it. Coinciding with the International Year of Astronomy and the 40th anniversary of the first Moon walk, this exhibition will delight viewers, providing a glimpse into another dimension,” said Ms Lindsay.”

Text from Artdaily.org website

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Skylab. 'Three Skylab 2 crewmen demonstrate the effects of weightlessness' 1973

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Skylab
‘Three Skylab 2 crewmen demonstrate the effects of weightlessness’
1973

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Skylab. 'Solar Flare recorded by NASA Skylab, December 1973' 1973

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Skylab
‘Solar Flare recorded by NASA Skylab, December 1973’
1973

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National Gallery of Victoria International

180, St. Kilda Road, Melbourne
Opening hours: 10 – 5pm, Closed Tuesdays.

NGV International website

All NASA images are from the NASA Images 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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