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May 27, 2004

Big Color and C-Prints from Australia and New Zealand

It appears there's a market for big color C-prints at thousands of dollars a pop in Australia, just as there is in the US and Europe (I can hear the groans coming from a good segment of people already)...at least on the basis of one Australian gallery's impressive stable of photographers.

The Stills Gallery in Sydney is one of the Australia's leading contemporary art spaces, and it's fascinating to peruse the work of their leading lights. There's a mix of conceptual contemporary work, still life, and photojournalism, with color favored by the majority of artists. Here are some of my favorites, with the usual caveat that evaluating this work on the web is not exactly the same as seeing it at 24x30 and 40x50 sizes on gallery walls:

* Anne Noble is one of New Zealand's leading contemporary photographers, and has photographed everything from Antarctic landscapes to nuns to recent, supersaturated color photographs of her daughter Ruby. The latter strike me as bold, compellingly eccentric and a bit unsettling, even though her artist's statement makes modest claims:

"The ‘mouth’ pictures began as an attempt to undertake a more honest cataloguing of [my daughter] Ruby’s body, acknowledging a relationship between a mother and a child. They present an off-the-wall record of growing up through close scrutiny of a site where life happens—the mouth. The mouth that speaks, tastes, smiles, reacts, learns, loves, etc. They celebrate and magnify moments of growing up that are not normally celebrated, and they’re deliberately not erotic, not romantic, not ideal, not perfect."

noble_room_9

"Ruby's Room #9, Anne Noble image

Work from Anne Noble's earlier "Antarctica...Terra Incognito" exhibition can be found here (interesting to compare them to Phil Toledano's arctic images mentioned in yesterday's post). More work and an accounting of her other exhibitions can also be found here .

* Narelle Autio is a photojournalist and fine art photographer that has been racking up awards lately (Leica Oskar Barnack Award in 2002, PDN 30 in 2003) for her strong, colorful underwater images that manage the feat of being dreamlike yet have enough in detail and specific elements to tell a story. Many underwater images I come across seem to me to put too much gloss on the underwater experience and the beautiful bodies swimming around...I like Autio's more eccentric compositions and people, with the omitted details (heads, sides of bodies) lending just as much flavor as the ones that are included (tattoos, rain, etc).

Autio's previous series, Not of this Earth, is very lovely as well, and some may even prefer the images from this series to her current images...she manages extreme overhead compositions as well as she manages unusual underwater ones.

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Narelle Autio image from Coastal Dwellers

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Narelle Autio image from Not of this Earth

The "Coastal Dwellers" images make wonderful fine arts images in their own right, but they also happen to be part of a photo-essay done for the Sydney Morning Herald...the text and images for this essay can be found here. There's also a more detailed artist statement on the series. (I can also appreciate, in a more modest way, her award winning photo essay on young ballerinas, based on my own recent dance photography work).

* Glen Sloggett's tattered, square compositioned images of various anonymous locations in Australian suburbs evoke a low-rent William Eggleston...it's not particularly original subject matter, but when it works, it works well.

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Glen Sloggett image

* Finally, Anne Ferran makes some of the more luminous photograms I've seen, even though this is material that's been covered heavily by other artists as well...it's been an interesting evolution from Ferran's much rawer "Carnal Knowledge" images from 20 years ago (go to the second page of Ferran's images to see these at the bottom).

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Anne Ferran image

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