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Indepth Arts News:

"Photographica Australis"
2003-08-14 until 2003-11-09
Singapore Art Museum
Singapore, , SG Singapore

Presenting photographic practices from Australia, this exhibition curated by Alasdair Foster of the Australian Centre for Photography assembles a wide range of photo-artists. The exhibition explores the themes of biodiversity of practices, culture and community, ideals of Australian suburbia, extensions from traditions of art vocabularies and negotiations of identity. As a cross-section of contemporary photographic practices, the works reflect a combination of sensitivities developed from post-modern photo-practices and multicultural gestures.

WITTY, OFTEN BEAUTIFUL AND SOMETIMES UNNERVING, photography is amongst the most fascinating Australian art being made today. The background for the present confidencelies in the success of artists such as Tracey Moffatt and Bill Henson, who have forged inspirational international careers with their evocative filmic visions. The immediate past, of course, is always difficult to assess, but it seems fair to observe that the context for Australian photographic art today parallels that of the visual arts nationally: an impatience with theory, a fascination with popular culture and ethical, rather than political, explorations of social relations between self and other.

Mirroring what has happened internationally, and contrary to what might have been expected in the wake of the digital revolution, photographic images have retained their power. Indeed, they have moved closer to the centre of the art world. Meanwhile, photography has evolved into the expanded domain of photomedia and for young artists the difference between analogue and digital practice, or indeed between the still and moving image, is increasingly slippery. In the process, over the past decade images have become larger - often approaching tableaux size - and almost exclusively colour. We can identify a renewed attention to visual polish, in which surface, ambience and spatial presence are key components. Even a flirtation with a grunge snapshot aesthetic failed to inhibit a trend towards eloquent and seductive imagery. Perhaps inspired by overseas exemplars, new Australian photography has turned its attention from the discursive, deconstructive edge of the past two decades towards an embrace of what we might term real fictions. Indeed, there has been something of a revival of interest in once heavily maligned documentary practice, as witnessed in this exhibition by Anne Zahalka, Martin Walch and others. Given that no one seems to believe in the ability of a camera to record the whole story any more, it is perhaps not surprising that the critical project to unmask photographic truth no longer retains its urgency.
- Daniel Palmer is a writer, curator and teacher, and is Information Coordinator at the Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne.

More work and essays can be found at:

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