Archive for May 2008
The last few days have been busy for the Australian media with the nailing to the wall of reknowned Australian photographer Bill Henson. Henson is quite the doyen of the art world, both here and abroad, though I suspect that this might change with recent public outrage and authorities moving to prosecute both the artist and gallery Roslyn Oxley 9 (who have also apparently received death threats from more gung-ho members of the lynch-mentality public) for exhibiting his latest work which includes nude images of under-age girls.
It’s been interesting to track the user comments on news sites. It’s definitely a divided audience with some people being quite measured and yet others going to great lengths to rant about the quality of the images, to whether or not photography can even be considered art (which poses interesting questions about the relationship between the artful representation of the human body in the photographic medium and what might be considered pornography or even paedophilia); and on to concerns for child welfare and the sexploitation of minors. (Interestingly there was little mention of the Corporate Paedophilia that our children are bombarded with on a daily basis – surely more explicit and offensive than what is under attack here!?)
It’s a tricky debate for reasons that are largely moral (childhood in our culture remains a fraught and often misunderstood construction). Legally, it’ll be interesting to see how the authorities proceed with their prosecution – doubtful given their wobbly platform. It’s also been unfortunate (and frankly disappointing) that our PM felt the need to weigh in on the event, adding more fuel to the already fiery debacle.
As a parent and an artist I’ve tried to weigh up the concerns of both camps and find myself less in no-mans-land than feeling disappointed at the absolute lack of intellectual and even rational thought over the whole affair, particularly from camps who have little to no visual knowledge of Henson’s work or contribution to the artworld. Ultimately I think that the art will prevail, whether or not people agree with it. It’s unfortunate though that the works have been removed by police from the gallery, because out of context (the nudes sit alongside landscapes and architectural studies), they can become something that the artist never intended.
All images courtesy Roslyn Oxley Gallery 9
Going through the archives…. Found this picture of an old friend who I’ve been meaning to get in touch with. I used to photograph her a lot in college:
It’s been a lot of years and numerous lives since then, but the old shoebox is great isn’t it, for these little walks down memory lane? How nice it would be to print them ALL up again…. maybe even digitize them (actually that would be a nightmare, but nice to have).
So get out into your garage or empty your draws and cupboards fellow photographers. I’d bet a good cup of coffee that you find some treasures in there…. all lurking and lonely. Seeing them with fresh (wisened?) eyes might yield some remarkable new finds. I’m enjoying tracking my own artistic evolution over 18 years! Really interesting and insightful to see where you began and how far you’ve come.
Olive Cotton Teacup Ballet
I loved the title I think more than the image, but over the years I’ve grown to truly love this iconic Australian photograph (having even had the lovely privilege of putting away one of the original Cotton prints at work at the NGA. It’s even better in real life.)
So here is my little ode to this remarkable woman and photographer:
Sometimes things happen for a reason…. or so we’re told. I like to think that this is true and that the reason is usually a good one. But what if it isn’t? It seems to me (in my present state of mind) that life can throw some fabulously awful googlies. Please note that I’m NOT a glass-half-empty type of gal. In fact, those who know me well would argue quite the opposite. However the scraps of news that I’ve been catching (no mean feat since we are that strange breed of TV-less families) and things that are unfurling in my peripheral view, seem mostly….. sad.
Maybe I’m really seeing this finally and I don’t mean the sadness that’s related to anger or loss or chaos (I’ll leave that to those heroic photojournalists with the Jesus complexes). Rather, it’s that sadness we all carry in our guts, I think perhaps the one we’re born with but haven’t quite figured what to do with. It’s actually quite beautiful when you start to really see it. And oddly, it’s everywhere I look. I’ve been trying to photograph it, to find it in places that are so bleedingly everyday and dull, that at first glance it isn’t sadness as such, but a boring and ambivalent stillness. For me, the ambivalence is the heart of it. Some (enlightened?) ones might think it pathetic…. how humans simply endeavour through life surrounded by their crap with only the odd epiphany if we’re lucky or thoughtful enough. But the loveliness of the effort is still there, and for me it’s this effort that’s sad, because in the end, we’re all going to die.
It’s hard to explain in words. Maybe these make more sense?
I don’t think this one needs much explanation to those who know Frank. For those who don’t, apparently it’s a tear jerker. I like the frame:
Frank as Ophelia
BTW, Frank knows a thing or two about photography. He’s good and if he had a website I’d link it here. Since he doesn’t (yet), you’ll just have to wait.
Well, it really does. After chucking a few tantrums, getting back into the world and shooting lots of film and indulging a momentary lapse of reason (buying a new desktop with extra external HD) I’m actually feeling better. There’s nothing like the soothing sounds of a shutter speed to calm one down…..
Still waiting to see if ‘forensic’ data retrieval experts can get me back my work but at this point, I’m not sweating it any more. Life’s bigger than a damn machine, wouldn’t you say?
And so here are a few things that have been keeping me occupied:
Yes, still chasing those who dress-up (seriously) for fun. These images are from a weekend away at Beorg-Wic with the Ancient Arts Fellowship. Also spent this weekend gone with another re-enactment group, the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA). Quite a different group with a different approach but at heart is the same idea – lots of fun. Will post some of these in the next week or so as a work-in-progress.