Capturing fragments of light that displays pictures of what surrounds it is a thought that when scrutinized seems unimaginable to ascertain. From the second the scene is grasped by the eye of the lens, the moment is gone, recorded only as a pixelated substance. The camera offers the keen admirer endless possibilities; it acts as a means of expression and representation while also serving as a mode of exploration into what ever the subject wishes to delve.
Identity is a concept that has prompted numerous artists to investigate this submersive subject matter. How is it that people come to be the way they are? What moulds and influences their behaviours and characteristics? How do people change towards their environments? The camera is the ideal mechanism to grant such answers. The Art Gallery of Western Australia will house a group exhibition involving work composed by a series of talented Indigenous and non-Indigenous photographers. With more than one hundred works, ‘New Passports, New Photography,’ revolves around the theme of portraiture and the photographer’s survey into identity.
What remains to be a prominent feature from holding a large exhibition with a group of contrasting artists, is that it becomes overtly clear to witness how the same artistic tool of the camera, even if used traditionally with film rather than digitally, can be adapted and treated in accordance to the subject’s aims and motives. A noticeable admiration is the distinguishable diversity between each artist as they welcome us to witness a snippet of what filled their gaze the very second they clicked to capture.
Choosing a wide and powerful selection of work would seem to come as a challenge, however Robert Cook, AGWA Curator of Contemporary International Art, admitted; “The show was incredibly easy to select! We have been collecting some incredible works. It also seemed like the thematics simply suggested themselves. I think that’s because artists are exploring similar concerns at the moment, and there are natural synergies between them.” It is these concerns that draw at times, recognisable and subtle threads between each piece, networking the elements to offer contemplative ideas on the issue of identity.
Cook expresses that he hopes the exhibition will allow viewers to think about what photographs mean to them; “Photos are the medium we use to speak to each other at the moment, and it is fascinating how they’ve so quickly entered our lives at all levels through our personal communication devices. This show, in a way, asks us to consider how we use images in our own lives, and how the act of taking a photo might be a way in which we form relationships and bonds with people and tell stories about ourselves as well.” To perceive imagery heavily laded with feeling, underpins the expressive motivation of the artist as they constructed their research into identity.
The Art Gallery of Western Australia has purchased a number of work made by most of the artists in the exhibition and people are welcome to take a look at this collection and see the ways in which these artists have applied their practice to other formulated narratives; this will give the spectator an overview of the themes considered by the artists and a deeper insight towards their approach of communicating their personal and meaningful intentions.
Art Gallery of Western Australia
15 November, 2014 to 8 February, 2015
Tony Albert, No place 2, 2009, chromogenic print on paper, 80.2 x 80.2cm
Fiona Foley, Nulla 4 Eva #3, 2009, ultrachrome print on Hahnemühle paper, 80.3 x 120.1cm
Courtesy the artists and the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth