Posts Tagged ‘National Gallery of Victoria



05
Apr
13

Video: ‘InsideArt – Marcus Bunyan’ talks about the exhibition ‘Confounding: Contemporary Photography’ at NGV International, Melbourne

Published on 11th March 2013

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This week on InsideArt TV, Michel Lawrence talks with Dr Marcus Bunyan about the NGV’s intriguing photographic exhibition, ‘Confounding’, where the photographs exhibited are not always what they seem. (Series 3, Episode 1, Part 2)

Many thankx to Michel and Inside Art for inviting me to speak about the exhibition, and the NGV for allowing us to film in the gallery.

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InsideArt TV
Marcus Bunyan – Confounding
2013

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InsideArt TV website

National Gallery of Victoria website

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09
Sep
12

Review: ‘Light Works’ at NGV International, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 23rd March – 16th September 2012

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“Light is a scientific fact, a metaphorical construct and even a spiritual force. It is considered an agent of truth, authenticity and revelation just as the absence of light signals mystery, danger and disorder. Light is also fundamental in the creation of photographs.”

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Dr Isobel Crombie, Senior Curator, Photography NGV, 2012

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“Light is a metaphor: where you have a dark place, and where that place becomes illuminated; where darkness becomes visible and one can see. The darkness is me, is my being. Why am I here? What am I here for? What is this experience I’m having? This is darkness. Light produces understanding.”

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Adam Fuss 1990

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This is an intimate and stimulating photographic exhibition at the NGV International featuring the work of artists Mike and Doug Starn, David Stephenson, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Bill Henson, Adam Fuss, Simone Douglas, Park Hong-Chun, Eugenia Raskopoulos, Sam Shmith, Christoph Dahlhausen and Patrick Bailly-Maitre-Grand. It is fantastic to see an exhibition of solely contemporary photographs at the National Gallery of Victoria taken from their collection (with nary a vintage silver gelatin photograph in sight!), one which examines the orchestration of light from which all photography emanates – used by different photographers in the creation, and there is the key word, of their work. Collectively, the works seem to ooze a mysterious inner light, a facing towards the transcendent divine – both comforting, astonishing and terrifying in part measure.

Works included range from photograms (camera-less images), large scale installations and photographs produced using digital light-based technologies. Every one of the fifteen works on display is worthy of inclusion, worthy of study at significant length so that the viewer may obtain insight into this element and its capture (by the camera, or not) on photographic paper, orthographic film and by the retina of the eye. What afterimage does this light leave, in the mind’s eye, in our subconscious thought?

The two Bill Henson photographs are evocative of the Romantic ideals of the nineteenth century where twilight possesses a luminescence that reveals shifting forms and meaning only through contemplation. As with all Henson the “mood” of the photographs is constructed as much by the artist as the thing being photographed. It is his understanding of the reflection of light from that object and the meaning of that reflection that creates the narrative “reality,” that allows the viewer the space for contemplation. In Sam Shmith’s photograph Untitled (In spates 2) (2011, below), Shimth turns day into night, creating his own reality by digitally compositing “30-40 photographs per pictorial narrative” taken during the day and then digitally darkened to form one single photographic instance. As a spectral ‘body’ the photograph works to create a new form of hallucination, one that haunts and perturbs the mind, like a disturbing psychological thriller. The viewer is (not really) flying, (not really) floating above the clouds contemplating the narrative, creating a visual memory of things. Spectral luminescences, not-quite-right perspectives, the photograph as temporal/temporary hallucination. The image takes me to other spaces and memories, opening up new vistas in my imagination (see more of my thoughts on Shmith’s work and the digital punctum).

Beginning in 1988, Adam Fuss began to explore studies of abstracted light and color which “involved placing the paper in a tray of water and recording the concentric circles caused by disturbing the water or dripping droplets of water into the trays. These pieces, done between 1988-1990, have an eerie, spatial quality. Infused with bright, vibrant colors and blinding white light, they resemble some hitherto unknown solar system. [Here] Fuss is concerned with the metaphorical qualities of light.

In an interview with Ross Bleckner conducted in 1992, Fuss explained the role of light in his imagery: “Light is a physical sensation. If you look at it with purely scientific eyes, its a particle that behaves like a wave or a wave that behaves like a particle. No one knows exactly what it is. It travels very fast. It has something to do with our perception of time… When one works with the idea of light, one’s working with a metaphor that’s endless and huge and unspecific. because you’re talking about something that’s almost just an idea, we can think about it but we can never grasp it. The light of the sun represents life on Earth. Light represents the fuel that is behind our existence… It’s a mystery.”1

Another beautiful photograph is Eugenia Raskopoulos’ elegiac requiem to the dis/appearance of language and the body, Diglossia #8 (2009, below). Diglossic is defined as a situation in which two languages (or two varieties of the same language) are used under different conditions within a community, often by the same speakers, with one variety of speech being more prestigious or formal and the other more suited to informal conversation or taken as a mark of lower social status or less education. As Victoria Lynn states of the series, “Each of these images carries within it a letter from the Greek alphabet. There is a word in there somewhere, but the order has been disrupted. This word, or name, has been cut, and its pieces are now before us as fragments that refuse to re-collect themselves into meaning. As such, the relationship between the letters also becomes temporal, fluid, and heterogeneous opening up the question of translation between one language to another, and one culture to another.

The images have been created using the gesture of a hand writing on a steamed up mirror. The photograph is taken very quickly, before the image, the letter and the mark of the artist disappears. We have to ask, what is disappearing here? Is it the language, the name, the aura of the photograph (in the Benjaminian sense) or indeed the body? For behind each letter we can detect a human presence – the artists’ naked body as she makes the photograph. The apparatus of photography is revealed, undressed and made naked.”2

Sol Invictus (1992, below) by the Starn Twins overwhelms in the brute force of the installation, something that cannot really be captured in the two-dimensional representation posted here (go and see the real thing!). The layering and curving of orthographic film relates to the curvature of the sun, the film held in place by screw clamps as though the artist’s were trying to contain, to fix, to regulate the radiation of the sun. Sol Invictus (here is the paradox, it means “unconquered sun” even as the Starn Twins seek to tie it down) explores the metaphorical, scientific and religious properties that gives life to this Earth. A very powerful installation that had me transfixed. Hiroshi Sugimoto’s famous series Theaters is represented in the exhibition by the work Winnetka Drive-In, Paramount (1993, below) where  Sugimoto “photographs auditoriums of American movie theaters, and drive-in movies, during showings. The exposure time used for the photograph corresponds with the projection time of the film. This allows him to save the duration of the entire film in a single shot. What remains visible of the film’s time-compressed, individual images is the bright screen of the movie theater, which illuminates the architecture of the space. That its content retreats into the background makes the actual film a piece of information, manifesting itself in the (movie theater) space. As a result, instead of a content-related event, film presents itself here as the relationship between time and spatial perception.”3

If we think of the camera lens as being fully open, like an eye without blinking, for the duration of the length of the film then the shutter of the lens has to be set on “B” for Bulb which allows for long exposure times under the direct control of the photographer. “The term bulb is a reference to old-style pneumatically actuated shutters; squeezing an air bulb would open the shutter and releasing the bulb would close it… It appears that when instantaneous shutters were introduced, they included a B setting so that the familiar bulb behavior could be duplicated with a cable release.”4 In other words light waves, reflecting from the surface of objects, are controlled by the photographer over an indefinite period (not the short “snap” of the freeze frame / the decisive moment), accumulating light from thousands of years in the past through the lens of the camera onto the focal plane, coalescing into a single image, controlled and constructed by the photographer.

My favourite works in the exhibition are David Stephenson’s two Star Drawings (1996, below) which use the same Bulb technique to capture star trails travelling across the night sky. Stephenson says that drawing the stars at night by long time exposures, “are a contemporary expression of the sublime – a transcendental experience of awe with the vast space and time of existence” (DS, 1998). The photographs map our position and help us understand our space in the world, that we are all made of stars, every last one of us. As far as being expressions of the sublime, these almost Abstract Expressionist, geometric light drawings are only achieved through the tilting of the camera at certain points doing the exposure and the opening and closing of the shutter, to make the intricate patterns. Man and stars combine to create a spiritual force that emanates from everything and everyone. Stephenson tilts the axis of meaning. When we look at these photographs the light that has emanated from these stars may no longer exist. It had travelled thousands of light years from the past to the present to be embedded in the film at the time of exposure and is then projected into the future so that the viewer may acknowledge it a hundred years from now.

Emanation > recognition > existence . . . . . . . . . . ∞
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . .. .  . . . . .  . .. . . . . . . . . . death

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How Light Works

In a truly inspired piece of writing, artist and author Pablo Helguera muses on the nature of light falling on a landscape in his piece How to Understand the light on a Landscape (2005). In the text he examines qualities of light such as experiential light, home light, ghost light, the light of the deathbed (think Emmet Gowin’s photograph of Rennie Booher in her casket, “dead now and committed to mystery,” as Gowin puts it), rain light, protective light, artificial light, the light of the truly blind, the light of adolescence, sunday light, hotel light, used light, narrated light, transparent light, the light of the last day and after light.

“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.”5

This is the crux of the “matter.” As much as photography is a dialogue between the natural and the unnatural, it is also an invocation to the gods (inside each of us and all around us). It is the breaking down of subjective and objective truths so that the myth of origin becomes fluid in this light. It is the light of creation that goes beyond the merely visual, that is an expression of an individualism that rises above the threshold of visibility – to stimulate sensory experience; to prick the imagination and memory; to make us aware and recognise the WAVELENGTH of creation. It is the LIGHT OF EXPERIENCE.

Helguera concludes, “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.”6

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I believe this is the role of artists, to embrace the darkness of light and the trace of experience and to show it to people that may not recognise it or have turned away from the light of experience. So many people walk through life as if in a dream, neither recognising their energy nor the good or bad that emanates from that light. As Helguera notes it causes us to create our own coded form of language to explain the LIGHT OF LIFE to ourselves. We can choose to ignore it (at out peril!) but we can also embrace light in an act of recognition, awareness, forgiveness. We can banish the empty spaces and nondescript imagery in our own lives and make connection to others so that they make gain insight into their own existence and being.

Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

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Many thankx to 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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David Stephenson
Star Drawing 1996/402
1996
40 x 40″
Cibachrome Print
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1997
© Courtesy of the artist

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Hiroshi Sugimoto
Japanese 1948-, worked in United States 1972-
Winnetka Drive-In, Paramount
1993
Gelatin silver photograph
42.3 x 54.1 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased with funds donated by the Bowness Family Fund for Contemporary Photography, 2009
© Hiroshi Sugimoto, courtesy The Pace Gallery, New York

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Simone Douglas
Surrender (Collision) III (detail)
1998
Type C photograph
45.9 x 64.0 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
© Simone Douglas

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Sam Shmith
Australian 1980-
Untitled (In spates 2)
2011
from the In spates series 2011
Inkjet print
75.0 x 124.8 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, Victorian Foundation for Living Australian Artists, 2011
© Sam Shmith, courtesy Arc One Gallery, Melbourne

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“On March 23, the National Gallery of Victoria will open Light Works, a contemporary photography exhibition that explores various artists’ approaches to light – a fundamental element in the creation of photography. Drawn from the NGV’s Collection, the fifteen works on display show how photographers have exploited the creative potentials of natural and artificial light in their artworks.

Dr Isobel Crombie, Senior Curator, Photography NGV said: “Light is a scientific fact, a metaphorical construct and even a spiritual force. It is considered an agent of truth, authenticity and revelation just as the absence of light signals mystery, danger and disorder. Through a careful selection of works by international and Australian artists the emotive potential and scientific capacities of light are explored.”

Dr Gerard Vaughan, Director, NGV said: “‘Light Works’ is an exhibition that has broad appeal as it will intrigue those who are artistically, spiritually, technologically or scientifically minded. The works on display demonstrate the diverse and limitless depiction of this vital element. This exhibition also provides visitors with an opportunity to see works by some of the most important contemporary global and local photography artists – a must-see exhibition for 2012.”

Works included range from photograms (camera-less images), large scale installations and photographs produced using digital light-based technologies highlighting the depth of the NGV’s remarkable photography collection. On display are works by Mike and Doug Starn, David Stephenson, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Bill Henson, Adam Fuss, Simone Douglas, Park Hong-Chun, Eugenia Raskopoulos, Sam Shmith, Christoph Dahlhausen and Patrick Bailly-Maitre-Grand.”

Text from the NGV website

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Eugenia Raskopoulos
Diglossia #8
2009
from the Diglossia series 2009
Inkjet print
139.5 x 93.3 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, Victorian Foundation for Living Australian Artists, 2009
© Eugenia Raskopoulos

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This photograph shows a letter from the Greek alphabet which has been marked by hand onto a foggy mirror.

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Mike Starn
American 1961-
Doug Starn
American 1961-
Sol Invictus
1992
Orthographic film, silicon, pipe clamps, steel and adhesive tape
175.0 x 200.0 x 35.0 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased with funds donated by the National Gallery Women’s Association, 1994
© Doug Starn, Mike Starn/ARS, New York. Licensed by VISCOPY, Sydney

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Adam Fuss
English 1961-, worked in Australia 1962-82, United States 1982-
Untitled
1991
Cibachrome photograph
164.3 x 125.0 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased through The Art Foundation of Victoria with the assistance of the Rudy Komon Fund, Governor, 1992
© Adam Fuss. Courtesy Cheim & Read, New York

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1. Halpert, Peter. “Adam Fuss: Light and Darkness,” in Art Press International, July/August 1993 on the Peter Hay Halpert Fine Art website. Nd. [Online] Cited 08/09/2012.

2. Lynn, Victoria. “Writing Towards Disappearance,” on the Eugenia Raskopoulos website. Nd. [Online] Cited 08/09/2012.

3. Kellein, Thomas Sugimoto, Hiroshi. Time Exposed. Thames & Hudson, First edition, 1995, p. 91, quoted on the Media Art Net website. [Online] Cited 08/09/2012.

4. Anon. “Bulb (photography),” on the Wikipedia website. Nd. [Online] Cited 08/09/2012.

5. Helguera, Pablo. 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, taken from the video, are part of the book by Patt,Lise (ed.). Searching for Sebald: Photography After W.G. Sebald. Institute of Cultural Inquiry, 2007, pp.110-119.

6. Ibid.,

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NGV International
180 St Kilda Road

Opening hours
10am – 5pm. Closed Tuesdays.

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20
Apr
12

Exhibition: ‘Unexpected Pleasures: The Art and Design of Contemporary Jewellery’ at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 20th April – 26th August 2012

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An elegant, refined exhibition of contemporary jewellery at the National Gallery of Victoria’s newly redeveloped Contemporary Exhibitions space. The most striking and beautiful pieces are the neck ornaments, although I am a very much over some relatively unstructured jewellery made out of found objects. It really has been done to death. Trying to take photographs of jewellery in cases with reflections and extraneous light is very difficult but I hope my photographs below give you an idea of the design, installation and some specific pieces in the exhibition.

Many thankx to the NGV for inviting me to the media preview and for allowing me to take photographs of the exhibition. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image. All photographs not otherwise labelled © Marcus Bunyan and the National Gallery of Victoria.

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Installation photograph of the exhibition Unexpected Pleasures at the National Gallery of Victoria

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Caroline Broadhead
Necklace/Veil
1983
Nylon

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Caroline Broadhead
Veil, necklace
1983
Nylon
60.0 x 30.0 x 30.0 cm
Collection of the artist
© Caroline Broadhead
Photo: David Ward

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Susanne Klemm
Frozen
2007
Polyolefin
Courtesy of Anna Schwartz Gallery

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Lisa Walker
Necklace
2009
Plastic, thread

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Beverley Price
Nespresso Collier
2012
Anodised aluminium, plastic coated wire, fine gold

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Grjs Bakker
Shoulder piece
1967
Anodised aluminium

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Unexpected Pleasures: The Art and Design of Contemporary Jewellery displays over 200 works by important Australian and international contemporary jewellers who have pushed conceptual and material boundaries within their practices. This Design Museum, London exhibition is curated by Guest Curator and Melbourne jeweller Susan Cohn, and is complemented by a selection of NGV Collection works and private loans.

Unexpected Pleasures looks at what we mean by jewellery from a number of different perspectives. Taking as its starting point the radical experiments of the Contemporary Jewellery Movement that challenged a conventional understanding of the language of personal adornment, and looking instead at the essential meanings of jewellery, the exhibition brings together important work from around the world, and looks at it from the point of view of the wearer as well as the maker. Contemporary Jewellery in this sense is at the intersection of art and design.

Dr Gerard Vaughan, Director, NGV said: “This is a remarkable and exciting exhibition, brilliantly installed in the Gallery’s newly redeveloped Contemporary Exhibitions space at NGV International.”

The exhibition explores the essential meanings of jewellery, bypassing traditional perceptions and instead tracing the radical experiments of contemporary jewellers who have challenged the conventions of jewellery design. The exhibition is curated through a number of themes: Worn Out – celebrating the experience of wearing jewellery; Linking Links – looking at the ways in which ‘meaning’ and narratives are invested and expressed through sub-themes such as Social Expressions and Creative Systems, and; A Fine Line – offering insight into the origins of contemporary jewellery today, highlighting key instigators of the Contemporary Jewellery Movement that started in the late 1970s.

Each theme within the exhibition provides an outline of current thinking and offers a unique view on how people use and interact with objects, through which design and production processes come to light. Photography in this context becomes a vital instrument for expressing the ‘wearability’ and the performative aspects of jewellery, and a selection of photographic works are also included in the exhibition.

New techniques and experimentation continue to question the relevance of preciousness, highlighting the shifting values from material worth to the personal associations that jewellery holds. The exhibition celebrates jewellery from the point of view of both the maker and the wearer. It considers the pleasures of wearing jewellery and the many meanings associated with jewellery which are at times unpredictable and, in turn, unexpected.”

Press release from the NGV website

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Otto Künzli
Wallpaper brooches
1982
Wallpaper, synthetic polymer core, steel

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Kiko Gianocca
Who am I? rings
2008-11
gold, silver, polyurethane
various sizes
Collection of the artist
© Esther Knobel
Photo: Jeremy Dillon

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Paul Derrez
Pleated Collar
1982
Plastic, steel
Collection of Paul Derrez

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Doug Bucci
Trans-Hematopoietic neckpiece
2010
3-D printed acrylic resin as one interlinked piece
45.7 x 45.7 x 5.1 cm
Collection of the artist
© Doug Bucci
Photo: Rebecca Annand

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David Bielander
Scampi
2007
silver (copper anodised), elastic
10.0 cm (diam)
Collection of the artist
© David Bielander
Photo: Simon Bielander

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Blanche Tilden
Speed, neckpiece
2000
borosilicate glass, titanium, anodised aluminium
1.2 x 24.0 cm
Collection of the artist
© Blanche Tilden
Photo: Marcus Scholz

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Karl Fritsch
Screw ring
2010
silver, nails, screws
6.0 x 4.0 x 4.0 cm
Collection of the artist
© Karl Fritsch
Photo: Karl Fritsch

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Tota Recliclados
Theorie du champ mechanique
2010
Found objects, book cover, mixed media

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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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23
Feb
12

Review: ‘Looking at Looking’ at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 30th September 2011 – 4th March 2012

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“The paradox is the more we seek to fix our vision of the world and to control it the less sure we are as to who we are and what our place is in the world.”

Marcus Bunyan 2011

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This is a delightful, intimate exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria that examines how looking through a camera directs and structures the way we see the world. The exhibition mines the same ground as one of my top exhibitions from last year, In camera and in public that was presented at the Centre for Contemporary Photography, Fitzroy.

Numerous artists use photography to examine the ways in which gender, race and sexuality have been ‘looked at’ in visual culture, including the politics of looking in relation to Indigenous cultures and identities. In I split your gaze (1997) by Brook Andrew, the artist has split the face of an Aboriginal man down the middle, and reassembled the face ear to ear. No longer can we look on the man as a whole because our gaze is split. Andrew is said to have “reclaimed” the image from colonial scientific, anthropological documentation but this presupposes some holistic whole existed a priori to white intervention. The split photograph does alter perception but to what extent it promotes a different reading, a postcolonial gaze that is understood as such by the viewer, is debatable.

Chi Peng poses more interesting gender reversals and masquerades. In Consubstantiality (2004, below) misaligned pairs of people, of androgynous face and hard to distinguish gender, are “reflected” in a pseudo mirror. Consubstantiality references the Christian principle describing the intertwined relationship of the Trinity (God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) as being of one essence, one being.

“Chi Peng uses digital technologies to manipulate photographic surfaces and often uses his own body and identity as a homosexual man living in China as a means of creating new ways of looking at himself and at the construction of identity… With powdered faces and bodies, the naked ‘reflections’ press the palms of their hands together across a pane of glass. At first glance, it is as though the photographer is intruding on a private scene, a moment of self-scrutiny in a mirror. However the hands do not quite align and the gazes diverge…”1

This self-reflexivity and its relation to the Lacan’s mirror stage in the development of male and female identity – in which the mirror can be looked at and looks back in return – lends these ethereal images real beauty and presence as they explore the psychology of identity and gender reversal.

“Photographers Ashley Gilbertson and John Imming, and collaborative artists Lyndell Brown and Charles Green have all used cameras to document war, and their works off three distinct views.The common link appears to be an engagement with ideas of the observer and the observed and questioning who is looking at whom, and why?”2 Attempting an apolitical view of the war in Iraq, Gilbertson was embedded with different US military outfits on numerous visits to the country between 2002-08, reliant on them for his safety. Many of his “objective” photographs deal with representations of surveillance and covert looking from ‘within the ranks’. But not from within enemy ranks. The very fact of his embedding, his lying down within a disciplinary system of control and power, to shoot from one point of view, politicises his gaze.

Brown and Green’s painterly photograph features a tightly choreographed scene, “a market within a military camp in which traders were invited to sell their wares. The scene is indicative, however, of the ‘strained atmosphere’ prevalent when different cultures interact in military situations – seemingly harmonious but concealing the ‘control that was exerted in the selection of traders’.”3 This traditional tableau vivant sees the traders become actors on a stage, their gaze directed towards the female officer at the centre of the group holding a piece of clothing which is blocked from our view. We the viewer are excluded from the circle of gazes; we become other, looking at the looking of the traders. Their gaze and our gaze are at cross-purpose; we wish to become a player on the stage but are denied access and can only observe the spectacle from a distance. Excluded, the viewer feels disempowered, the photographic mise en scène leaving me unmoved.

John Imming’s photographs use found images from the Vietnam war, the first war in which photographers had unrestricted access and were given absolute freedom to record what they saw. Vietnam was a stage for intense exploration, photographers bombarding the public with images of extreme violence. Imming rephotographs images from the television screen using a Leica camera, abstracting them into darkly hued creatures, the borders miming the shape of early television screens. “The images become abstracted and our gaze is ‘reduced’ into blurred shapes of contrasting tones … His photographs force us to slow down the memories of the somewhat ephemeral television imagery and look deeply at what is being portrayed, and how.”4 These photographs fail in that task for they are very surface photographs. The photographs do not have the structure to support such a vision nor the support of beauty to prick the consciousness of the gaze. They are ugly images because war is ugly and abstracting them in order to ask the viewer to look deeply and have an incredible insight into the condition ‘war’ and how it is portrayed simply did not work for me.

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The two standout works in the exhibition are Thomas Struth’s luminous photograph Pergamon Museum IV, Berlin (2001, below) and Bill Henson’s seminal (perhaps even ubiquitous) series Untitled 1980/82 (1980-82, see above) – these photographs seem to be everywhere at the moment, perhaps a change is as good as a rest!

Struth’s magnificent large colour photograph is an investigation into the theatre of seeing. In the photograph Struth directs his cast and choreographs the visitors, the arrangement of the spectators re-assembling the open-ended narrative of the 2nd century Telephos frieze behind. “Similarities between the poses of the audience members and the poses of the carve relief figures gradually emerge, suggesting an unconscious dialogue between the viewers and the objects they regard. The result of Struth’s directorial mode of working is the creation of a type of theatre based on intersecting viewpoints, raising questions about the gaze of the spectator and the process of looking at works of art and each other.”5

Beholders observe beholders and the subjects of vision become historical, according to art historian Wold-Dieter Heilmeyer.

The suffused light that falls from the skylight leaves no shadow.
A man who casts no shadow has no soul.
The shadow according to Jung is the seat of creativity.
Here there is no depth of field, the sculptures and the figures feel like they are almost on one plane.
None of the viewers looks at the camera, they avoid its probing gaze, passively becoming the feminine aspect – like the central raised figure, robbed of head and arms, being gazed upon from all sides. We, the viewer, are looking at the spectacle of the viewers looking at the frieze. Looking at looking the observer becomes the observed (surveillance camera where are you?)
Consider the freeze frame of the models as they posed for the sculptor all those years ago; the freeze frame of the sculptures themselves; the freeze frame of the spectators posing for the camera; the freeze frame of the photograph itself; and then consider the freeze frame of time and space as we stand before the photograph looking at it. Then notice the women in the photograph videotaping the scene, another excoriating layer that tears at the fabric of time and looking, that causes lacrimation for our absent soul. What a photograph!

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The Henson photographs are presented in a wonderfully musical installation, mimicking the movement of the crowds portrayed. I republish below my comments on this series from the review of the In camera and in public exhibition.

“A selection of photographs from the Crowd Series (1980 – 82) by Bill Henson. Snapped in secret these black and white journalistic surveillance photographs (‘taken’ in an around Flinders Street railway station in Melbourne) have a brooding intensity and melancholic beauty. Henson uses a flattened perspective that is opposed to the principles of linear perspective in these photographs. Known as The Art of Describing6 and much used in Dutch still life painting of the 17th century to give equal weight to objects within the image plane, here Henson uses the technique to emphasise the mass and jostle of the crowd with their “waiting, solemn and compliant” people.

“When exhibiting the full series, Henson arranges the works into small groupings that create an overall effect of aberrant movement and fragmentation. From within these bustling clusters of images, individual faces emerge like spectres of humanity that will once again dissolve into the crowd … all apparently adrift in the flow of urban life. The people in these images have an anonymity that allows them to represent universal human experiences of alienation, mortality and fatigue.”7

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Henson states, “The great beauty in the subject comes, for me, from the haunted space, that unbridgeable gap – which separates the profound intimacy and solitude of our interior world from the ‘other’… The business of how a child’s small hand appearing between two adults at a street crossing can suggest both a vulnerability, great tenderness, and yet also contain within it all of the power that beauty commands, is endlessly fascinating to me.”8 His observation is astute but for me it is the un/awareness of the people in these photographs that are their beauty, their insertion into the crowd but their isolation from the crowd and from themselves. As Maggie Finch observes, it is “that feeling of being both alone and private in a crowd, thus free but also exposed.”9

In the sociologist Erving Goffman’s terms the photographs can be seen as examples of what he calls “civil inattention”10 which is a carefully monitored demonstration of what might be called polite estrangement, the “facework” as we glance at people in the crowd, holding the gaze of the other only briefly, then looking ahead as each passes the other.

“Civil inattention is the most basic type of facework commitment involved in encounters with strangers in circumstances of modernity. It involves not just the use of the face itself, but the subtle employment of bodily posture and positioning which gives off the message “you may trust me to be without hostile intent” – in the street, public buildings, trains or buses, or at ceremonial gatherings, parties, or other assemblies. Civil inattention is TRUST as ‘background noise’ – not as a random collection of sounds, but as carefully restrained and controlled social rhythms. It is characteristic of what Goffman calls “unfocused interaction.””11

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This is what I believe Henson’s photographs are about. Not so much the tenderness of the child’s hand but a fear of engagement with the ‘other’. As such they can be seen as image precursors to the absence/presence of contemporary communication and music technologies. How many times do people talk on their mobile phone or listen to iPods in crowds, on trams and trains, physically present but absenting themselves from interaction with other people. Here but not here; here and there. The body is immersed in absent presence, present and not present, conscious and not conscious, aware and yet not aware of the narratives of a ‘recipro/city failure’. A failure to engage with the light of place, the time of exposure and an attentiveness to the city.

As Susan Stewart insightfully observes,

“To walk in the city is to experience the disjuncture of partial vision/partial consciousness … The walkers of the city travel at different speeds, their steps like handwriting of a personal mobility. In the milling of the crowd is the choking of class relations, the interruption of speed, and the machine.”12″

Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

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Many thankx to 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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Bill Henson
Australian 1955-
Untitled 1980/82
1980-82
from the Untitled 1980/82 series 1980-82
gelatin silver photograph
43.0 x 38.8 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Anonymous gift, 1993
© Courtesy of the artist and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney

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Bill Henson
Australian 1955-
Untitled 1980/82
1980-82
from the Untitled 1980/82 series 1980-82
gelatin silver photograph
43.0 x 38.8 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Anonymous gift, 1993
© Courtesy of the artist and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney

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Bill Henson
Australian 1955-
Untitled 1980/82
1980-82
from the Untitled 1980/82 series 1980-82
gelatin silver photograph
29.2 x 47.0 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Anonymous gift, 1993
© Courtesy of the artist and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney

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“On 30 September the National Gallery of Victoria will present Looking at Looking: The Photographic Gaze, a unique exhibition exploring how photography can construct particular ways of looking. Looking at Looking will feature works by 10 Australian and international photographers including 20 photographs from Bill Henson’s Untitled 1980-82 series.

Drawn entirely from the NGV Collection, this exhibition will bring together a fascinating selection of photographs inviting the viewer to consider the diverse nature of the photographic gaze and explore the complex relationships between the subject, the photographer and the audience. The displayed photographs will include observations of people in crowds, surveillance images from war zones and photographs that explore different ways of looking at gender, race and identity.

Maggie Finch, Assistant Curator, Photography, NGV said: “The act of photographing people involves a process of observation and scrutiny.  At times, photographers remain detached and anonymous while at other times they are complicit, directing their subjects and encouraging specific actions.”

Frances Lindsay, Deputy Director, NGV, said: “In the NGV’s 150th year this exhibition allows visitors to explore the dynamic relationship between the observer and the observed. This is a rare opportunity to view these photographs in a truly unique context.”

Looking at Looking will consider the anonymous photographer, one who is able to look without being looked at in return and consequently see more than otherwise possible. This idea is explored in Bill Henson’s series Untitled 1980-82, where the artist photographed people on city streets. Hung in a dense display, these photographs provide a psychological study of the nature of people when in a crowd.

Looking at Looking will feature works by Brook Andrew, Chi Peng, Anne Ferran, Ashley Gilbertson, Charles Green and Lyndell Brown, Bill Henson, John Immig, Thomas Struth and David Thomas.”

Press release from the National Gallery of Victoria

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Thomas Struth
German 1954-
Pergamon Museum IV, Berlin
2001
type C photograph
144.1 x 219.9 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Purchased with the assistance of The Bowness Family Fund for Contemporary Photography, 2008
© 2011 Thomas Struth

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David Thomas
born Northern Ireland 1951, arrived Australia 1958
Amid history 2 (Large version)
2006
enamel paint on type C photograph on aluminium and plastic
100.0 x 145.0 cm National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, Victorian Foundation for Living Australian Artists, 2007 © the artist

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Ashley Gilbertson
Australian 1978-
A member of the Mahdi Army RPG team
2004
from the Whiskey Tango Foxtrot series 2004
digital type C print
66.5 x 99.8 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Purchased, Victorian Foundation for Living Australian Artists, 2009
© Ashley Gilbertson / VII Network

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John Immig
Dutch/Australian 1940-
No title (T.V. images)
1975-76
from the Vietnam series 1975-76
gelatin silver photograph
20.2 x 25.3 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased with the assistance of the Visual Arts Board, 1977 © John Immig

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Chi Peng
Chinese 1981-
Consubstantiality
2004
type C photograph
87.5 x 116.7 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased with the assistance of the NGV Foundation, 2004 © Chi Peng, courtesy of Red Gate Gallery, Beijing

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Charles Green
Australian 1953-
Lyndell Brown
Australian 1961-
Afghan traders with soldiers, market, Taran Kowt Base Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan
2007 printed 2009
from The approaching storm series 2009
inkjet print
155.0 x 107.5 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Purchased, Victorian Foundation for Living Australian Artists, 2009
© Courtesy of the Artists and Arc One Gallery, Melbourne

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1. Finch, Maggie. Looking at Looking: The Photographic Gaze. Catalogue. Melbourne: National Gallery of Victoria, 2011, p.10.

2. Ibid., p.16.

3. Ibid., p.21.

4. Ibid., p.24.

5. Ibid., p.7.

6. See Alpers, Svetlana. The Art of Describing: Dutch Art in the Seventeenth Century. University Of Chicago Press, 1984.

7. AnonBILL HENSON: early work from the MGA collection. Education Resource. A Monash Gallery of Art Travelling Exhibition [Online] Cited 14/10/2011. www.unisa.edu.au/samstagmuseum/exhibitions/2011/docs/HENSON_edukit.PDF

8. Henson, Bill quoted in the exhibition catalogue. First published as a pdf for the exhibition In camera and in public Curated by Naomi Cass. Centre for Contemporary Photography, 16 September – 23 October 2011.

9. Stephens, Andrew. “Who’s watching you?” in The Saturday Age. 23rd September 2011 [Online] Cited 14/10/2011.
www.theage.com.au/entertainment/whos-watching-you-20110923-1kot7.html

10. See  Goffman, E. Behaviour in Public Places. New York: Free Press, 1963.

11. Giddens, Anthony. The Consequences of Modernity. Cambridge: Polity Press, 1991, pp.82-83.

12. Stewart, Susan. On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection. Durham: Duke University Press, 1993, p.2. Prologue.

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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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26
Sep
10

Review: ‘Mari Funaki: Objects’ at the The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 6th August – 24th October 2010

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Apologies for the lack of local postings in the last two weeks, I have been very sick with the flu. Many thanxk to Alison Murray, Jemma Altmeier 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. All individual photographs of work by Jeremy Dillon.

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Mari Funaki
born Japan 1950, arrived Australia 1979, died 2010
Object
2008
heat-coloured mild steel
20.0 x 28.0 x 5.0 cm
Collection of Raphy Star, Melbourne
© The Estate of Mari Funaki

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Mari Funaki
born Japan 1950, arrived Australia 1979, died 2010
Container
2008
heat-coloured mild steel
(a–c) 21.3 x 40.5 x 8.5 cm (overall)
Private collection, Melbourne
© The Estate of Mari Funaki

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Mari Funaki
born Japan 1950, arrived Australia 1979, died 2010
Container
2008
heat-coloured mild steel
4.8 x 16.0 x 15.5cm
Private Collection, Melbourne
© The Estate of Mari Funaki

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Mari Funaki
born Japan 1950, arrived Australia 1979, died 2010
Object
2008
heat-coloured mild steel
20.0 x 28.0 x 5.0 cm
Collection of Raphy Star, Melbourne
© The Estate of Mari Funaki

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Let us drop away all interpretation and look at the thing in itself.
The literal feeling of standing before these objects.

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Form

Balance

Colour

Surface

Precision

Will

Style

Silence

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Quiet, precise works. Forms of insect-like legs and proboscises. They balance, seeming to almost teeter on the edge – but the objects are incredibly grounded at the same time. As you walk into the darkened gallery and observe these creatures you feel this pull – lightness and weight. Fantastic!

The surfaces, sublime matt grey colour and precision of their manufacture add to this sense of the ineffable. These are not mere renderings of content, but expressions of things that cannot be said.

Sontag observes, “Art is the objectifying of the will in a thing or performance, and the provoking or arousing of the will … Style is the principle of decision in a work of art, the signature of the artist’s will.”1

Sontag insightfully notes, “The most potent elements in a work of art are, often, its silences.”2

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And so it came to pass in silence, for these works are still, quiet and have a quality of the presence of the inexpressible.

Funaki achieves these incredible silences through being true to her self and her style through an expression of her endearing will.

While Mari may no longer be amongst us as expressions of her will the silences of these objects will be forever with us.

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Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

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‘Mari Funaki: Objects’ installation shots on opening night at NGV Australia

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“Opening 6 August, the National Gallery of Victoria will present Mari Funaki: Objects, an exhibition showcasing a range of sculptural objects by the renowned contemporary jeweller and metalsmith, Mari Funaki (1950 – 2010).

This exhibition will present a selection of Funaki’s distinctive objects, dating from the late 1990s to 2010 including four recent large scale sculptures. The artist was working on the exhibition right up until the time of her recent death.

Jane Devery, Acting Curator, Contemporary Art, NGV said: “It was a great privilege to work with Mari Funaki on this exhibition. She possessed a clarity of vision and a capacity for ongoing invention that is rare among artists. Funaki produced some of the most captivating works in the field of contemporary jewellery and metalwork. Her unique geometric objects, meticulously constructed from blackened mild-steel, stemmed from a desire to express the world around her.”

“Funaki was interested in the expressive and associative capacities of her objects, creating forms that might stir our imaginations or trigger something from our memories. It has been particularly thrilling to see her extend these concerns in large scale works,” said Ms Devery. In 1979 Funaki left her home in Japan for Melbourne where she pursued her creative ambitions, enrolling in Gold and Silversmithing at RMIT in the late 1980s. At RMIT she studied under the prominent jewellers Marian Hosking, Robert Baines and Carlier Makigawa.

In 1995, Mari Funaki established Gallery Funaki in Melbourne’s CBD which remains Australia’s most important space dedicated to contemporary jewellery. Throughout her career she exhibited widely within Australia and overseas and won many awards, twice winning the prestigious Herbert Hoffman prize in Munich. In 2007 she was awarded an Australian Council Emeritus Award for her work as an artist and for her success in promoting Australian and international contemporary jewellery.

Frances Lindsay, Deputy Director, NGV said: “The NGV is delighted to exhibit many never-before-seen works by such an innovative and celebrated Melbourne artist. The exquisite objects assembled in this exhibition allow us to appreciate Mari Funaki’s remarkable artistic achievements.”

Mari Funaki: Objects will be on display at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Federation Square from 6 August to 24 October, 2010. The exhibition will be open from 10am-5pm. Closed Mondays. Entry is free.”

Press release from the National Gallery of Victoria website

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Mari Funaki
born Japan 1950, arrived Australia 1979, died 2010
Object
2008
heat-coloured mild steel
36.0 x 47.5 x 14.5 cm
Collection of Johannes Hartfuss & Fabian Jungbeck, Melbourne
© The Estate of Mari Funaki

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Mari Funaki
born Japan 1950, arrived Australia 1979, died 2010
Container
2006
heat-coloured mild steel
26.0 x 8.5 x 6.0 cm
Collection of Peter and Jennifer McMahon, Melbourne
© The Estate of Mari Funaki

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Mari Funaki
born Japan 1950, arrived Australia 1979, died 2010
Object
2010
heat-coloured mild steel
30.0 x 19.0 x 20.5 cm
Collection of the Estate of Mari Funaki, Melbourne
© The Estate of Mari Funaki

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Mari Funaki
born Japan 1950, arrived Australia 1979, died 2010
Object
2010
heat-coloured mild steel
45.0 x 52.0 3.5 cm
Collection of the Estate of Mari Funaki, Melbourne
© The Estate of Mari Funaki

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Mari Funaki
born Japan 1950, arrived Australia 1979, died 2010
Object
2010
heat-coloured mild steel
12.0 x 44.0 x 14.0 cm
Collection of the Estate of Mari Funaki, Melbourne
© The Estate of Mari Funaki

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1. Sontag, Susan. “On Style,” in Against Interpretation and Other Essays. New York: Delta Book, 1966, pp.31-32.

2. Ibid., p.36.

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The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia
Federation Square

Corner of Russell and 
Flinders Streets, Melbourne

Opening hours:
10am – 5pm
Closed Mondays

National Gallery of Victoria website

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11
Jun
09

Exhibition photographs: ‘Salvador Dali: Liquid Desire’ Melbourne Winter Masterpieces at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 13th June – 4th October 2009

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You saw it first on Art Blart!

Installation photographs from the latest Winter Masterpieces blockbuster from the media preview on the day the exhibition opened at NGV International, Melbourne. Thank you to Jemma Altmeier, Media and Public Affairs Administrator at the NGV for the invitation. Photographs were taken using a digital camera, tripod and available light. There is a posting on the Melbourne Jeweller blog about this exhibition, complete with interesting drawings of the jewellery – well worth a look.

Fantastic to see my friend and curator of the exhibition, Dr Ted Gott, at the opening. Congratulations on a wonderful show!

Marcus Bunyan for Art Blart

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© All photographs copyright Marcus Bunyan 2009 and the National Gallery of Victoria. All rights reserved. Photographs may not be reproduced without permission.

Do you need a photographer for your exhibition, opening or installation in Melbourne?
Please contact
Marcus Bunyan for more information.

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Photographs proceed from the beginning to the end of the exhibition in chronological order.

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'Salvador Dali: Liquid Desire' Winter Masterpieces exhibition at NGV International, Melbourne

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Entrance to the 'Salvador Dali: Liquid Desire' Winter Masterpieces exhibition at NGV International, Melbourne

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Entrance to the ‘Salvador Dali: Liquid Desire’ Winter Masterpieces exhibition

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3 panel video installation of the Catalan countryside around where Salvador Dali lived

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3 panel video installation of the Catalan countryside where Salvador Dali lived. 13 minutes duration.

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Early work from the 'Salvador Dali: Liquid Desire' Winter Masterpieces exhibition at NGV International, Melbourne

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Early work from the ‘Salvador Dali: Liquid Desire’ Winter Masterpieces exhibition

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'Salvador Dali: Liquid Desire' Winter Masterpieces exhibition at NGV International, Melbourne

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Early work from the 'Salvador Dali: Liquid Desire' Winter Masterpieces exhibition at NGV International, Melbourne

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To the left ‘View of the Cadaques from the Creus Tower’ 1923; to the right ‘Table in front of the Sea. Homage to Eric Satie’ 1926

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Early work from the 'Salvador Dali: Liquid Desire' Winter Masterpieces exhibition at NGV International, Melbourne

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In the centre ‘The First Days of Spring’ 1929; to the right ‘Surrealist composition’ 1928

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dali-installation-j

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Installation view with The Age art critic Associate Professor Robert Nelson at centre right

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dali-installation-l

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Installation view with ‘Memory of the child-woman’ 1932 at right

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'Salvador Dali: Liquid Desire' Winter Masterpieces exhibition at NGV International, Melbourne

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‘Lobster Telephone’ 1936

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'Salvador Dali: Liquid Desire' Winter Masterpieces exhibition at NGV International, Melbourne

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'Salvador Dali: Liquid Desire' Winter Masterpieces exhibition at NGV International, Melbourne

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'Salvador Dali: Liquid Desire' Winter Masterpieces exhibition at NGV International, Melbourne

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Jewellery Gallery at the ‘Salvador Dali: Liquid Desire’ Winter Masterpieces exhibition

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Television with film installation at 'Salvador Dali: Liquid Desire' Winter Masterpieces exhibition at NGV International, Melbourne

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Televisions with film installation at ‘Salvador Dali: Liquid Desire’ Winter Masterpieces exhibition

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'Salvador Dali: Liquid Desire' Winter Masterpieces exhibition at NGV International, Melbourne

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Installation of black and white photography with Dr Ted Gott, curator of the exhibition, with back to camera at centre

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'Salvador Dali: Liquid Desire' Winter Masterpieces exhibition at NGV International, Melbourne

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Reproduction of ‘Gala foot. Stereoscopic paintings’ 1975 – 76 in an installation using mirrors that would have been originally used to obtain the stereoscopic effect

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'Salvador Dali: Liquid Desire' Winter Masterpieces exhibition at NGV International, Melbourne

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Final exhibition space at ‘Salvador Dali: Liquid Desire’ Winter Masterpieces exhibition

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'Salvador Dali: Liquid Desire' Winter Masterpieces exhibition at NGV International, Melbourne

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'Salvador Dali: Liquid Desire' Winter Masterpieces exhibition at NGV International, Melbourne

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Final gallery space at the ‘Salvador Dali: Liquid Desire’ Winter Masterpieces exhibition featuring ‘The Ecumenical Council’ 1960

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National Gallery of Victoria (International)
180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne

Opening hours: ‘Salvador Dalí: Liquid Desire’ is open 7 days a week and until 9pm every Wednesday from 17 June

Tickets
Adult: $23
Concession: $18
Child: $11 (ages 5-15)
Family (2 adults + 3 children): $60
NGV Member Adult: $16
NGV Member Family: $40

Unlimited entry tickets
Adult: $55
Concession: $45
NGV Member Adult: $40

National Gallery of Victoria Dali 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: ‘England’ 1993

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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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