Curated by Deborah Klochko
Traveled by Curatorial Assistance Traveling Exhibitions
“In revealing these histories, the consequences of the colonial are revealed….”
– Glenn Iseger-Pilkington, from the catalogue essay
Drawing on the work of Australia’s leading contemporary photographers, Defining Place / Space is an exhibition that explores personal, national and indigenous histories of a country reflecting on its colonial past.
While some of the photographers focus on postcolonial narratives and deal with themes of myth-making, appropriation, and the leveling of social hierarchies, others explore their personal identities through physical and psychological space.
With over one hundred photographic works by thirteen artists, Defining Place / Space presents a diversity of contemporary Australian photographic practice. From large-scale camera-less images to digitally altered tableaus, this exhibition presents the work of many internationally known artists, shifting our gaze towards the Antipodes and post-colonial issues relevant not only to Australia but to all new-world countries.
In addition to the contemporary work in Defining Place / Space, this exhibition also includes a 35 print photographic synopsis of Australia’s best historical examples of nineteenth and twentieth century photography, lending a wider perspective to the representation of Australia and its peoples.
This exhibition was originated by the Museum of Photographic Art, San Diego, with support from the Farrell Family Foundation.
firstname.lastname@example.org | 626.577.0044
130 framed photographs
94.92 x 50.03 in to 20.23 x 16.22 in
241.1 x 127.1 cm to 51.4 x 41.2 cm
500 linear feet
152 linear meters
Defining Place / Space: Contemporary Photography from Australia (Museum of Photographic Arts, 2019)
HODA AFSHAR was born in Tehran, Iran, and is now based in Melbourne, Australia. Through her art practice, Hoda explores the nature and possibilities of documentary image-making. Hoda employs processes that disrupt traditional image making practices, play with the presentation of imagery or merge aspects of conceptual, staged and documentary photography. Working across photography and film, she considers the representation of gender, marginality and displacement. Her intimate documentary series Behold displays scenes in a bathhouse reserved for gay men, the only place they are able to share each other’s desire to be seen and embraced.
POLLY BORLAND was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, and is well known for her experimental, stylized, and occasionally unsettling portrait photographs. Borland, who draws inspiration from Diane Arbus, carefully directs the costumes, makeup, and poses of her models, creating scenes that are intimate and dysmorphic. Her Monster series uses “figurative extraction to reduce body parts to shapes that hint at [a] psychological interior or allude to existential crises,” and provides an enigmatic reading of the human condition.
PAT BRASSINGTON was born in Tasmania and is one of Australia’s most significant and influential artists working in photo-media. With a career spanning more than three decades, Brassington has become well known for her incisive ability to infuse the familiar with the fantastic. Her practice is informed by an interest in surrealism, feminism and psychoanalysis. Her series Just So, derived from Rudyard Kipling’s work Just So Stories, trades wildlife for humans, presenting “fanciful depictions of human biographical traits and behaviors.”
MICHAEL COOK is a Brisbane-based photo-media artist strongly influenced by his Aboriginal heritage, the Bidjara people of the southwest Queensland. His art aims to provoke thought primarily through the use of satire and visual subversion to engage the viewer in his works’ political undercurrent. Cook’s Invasion series uses large-scale digitally-altered tableaus of a contemporary London under attack to cast a subversive eye on Australian colonial history.
ROSEMARY LAING was born in Brisbane, Australia, and now resides in Sydney. She is well known for her photo-based work in its cinematic aesthetic and process. Her works are created with real-time performance and physical installation as opposed to being completely run by digital manipulation. Her work burning Ayer #6 exists as part of a series in which a mound of IKEA furniture is burned within the expansive Australian outback, creating a dichotomy that simultaneously references a violent history of colonisation and the purging of injustices taken place on this land. Her work is informed by post-colonial perspectives on the occupation and ownership of land and speculates upon how the past intersects with the present.
RICKY MAYNARD is an indigenous Tasmanian photographer. Maynard has produced some of the most compelling images of contemporary Aboriginal Australia over the last two decades. His series Saddened Were the Hearts of Many Men features large-format portraits of Aboriginal men, an ongoing series of Maynard’s that closely follows these men as they confront and grapple with their diminishing role in contemporary society.
TRACEY MOFFATT is an Australian contemporary artist well known for her investigation into indigenous people’s perspectives throughout history often exploring her own childhood memories, and the broader issues of race, gender, sexuality and identity. Moffatt represented Australia at the 57th Venice Biennale, 2017 with her solo exhibition MY HORIZON in the Australian Pavilion, curated by Natalie King. In this exhibition works from her most recent series PORTALS examines patterns of migration throughout history, seen through a 1940s film-noir vision of Australian sea ports and outback towns.
POLEXENI PAPAPETROU (21 November 1960 – 11 April 2018) was born in Melbourne, Australia, into a Greek immigrant family. As a photographic artist she explored the relationship between history, contemporary culture, identity and being. Her work often rides a fine line between the real and dream-state, creating her fantasies out of the world. Her series Eden reflects on the female metamorphosis from child to adult to create an uncanny visual unity between human and nature.
TRENT PARKE, born in Newcastle, New South Wales, works primarily as a street photographer with a demonstrated pictorialist style. In 2003, with wife and fellow photographer Narelle Autio, Parke drove almost 90,000 km (56,000 miles) around Australia, shooting a series titled Minutes to Midnight which offered a characteristically disturbing portrait of twenty-first century Australia. Not unlike his dark, apocalyptic view of the Australian outback and its metropolitan counterpart, Parke’s series The Camera is God accomplishes a similar mysteriousness through his close-up photographs of anonymous individuals crossing a street in Adelaide. The resulting images leave a disorienting impression of, as Park puts it, “waking from a dream and not being able to grasp the hard outline of a person’s face.”
PATRICK POUND is a New Zealand-born, Melbourne-based photographer. Pound’s work draws upon his personal archives amassed over years of obsessive and meticulous searching to produce a collection of found photographs, everyday objects and cuttings from newspapers and magazines. In his two related series, Air Moving Right and Air Moving Left, Pound playfully and poetically explores the art of collection through complex arrangements and installations of objects. This series effectively de-contextualizes the images by rendering them to a single constraint. In this case, each photograph captures a trace of air moving through the image.
JACKY REDGATE, a London-born, Sydney-based artist, is regarded as one of Australia’s leading contemporary art figures. Redgate emigrated to Australia in 1967 where her career began in the context of late-1970s feminism, minimalism and conceptual art. She is known for her photographic and sculptural work that prioritizes systems and logic. Her series Light Throw (Mirrors) utilizes rebounded light from mirrors onto different substrates, rendering once-mundane objects into an aesthetic of Modernism.
JAMES TYLOR, born in Mildura, Victoria, explores Australian cultural representations through his Nunga, Māori and European Australian ancestry. James’ artistic practice examines concepts around Australian social history and cultural identity. James’ work focuses largely on the 19th century history of Australia and its continual effect on present day issues surrounding cultural identity in Australia. His series Karta explores the dark history of Kangaroo Island, featuring scratched and manipulated daguerreotypes.
JUSTINE VARGA, a Sydney-based artist, creates photographic works that investigate the intimate exchange between a strip of film and the physical world that comes to be inscribed on it. Employing analogue techniques, sometimes using a camera and sometimes not, her working process complicates both the act of looking and the experience of time. The photographs that result are therefore documents of transformation and remembering, being simultaneously situational and autobiographical. Her series Photogenic Drawing is comprised of large-scale, camera-less photographs that, although abstract in appearance, insist on manifestations of the real.