Thursday, 28 May 2015

the photograph and australia + world press photo

On the weekend I went to see these exhibitions. At the Photograph and Australia at the AGNSW I had been told to expect a good collection of historical photographs as in photos with content of historical documentary interest which is largely true. It also got me interested in some of the processes of theme like carbon printing. Carbon was used with gelatine to make prints that were fade resistant unlike silver based prints. There are some impressive examples by Frank Hurley. Another section talks about the popularity of "cartes de visite" which had a person's image on one side and about the size of a playing card. Apparently people collected them as we now collect friends on Facebook  There is very little showing any use of photography as a political tool or mirror as one sees in photography of the early 20th century elsewhere.  Not sure if it just didn't happen or it was a curatorial choice. So for the most part we are seeing people and places as they were. Some really interesting images in there and some surprisingly modern. This is compensated by the World Press Photo exhibition at the state library which is fully confrontational. The next room has the Sydney 1440 exhibition which is Sydney based and finally an exhibition of images of the Greek island of Lemnos. Modern day larger colour images have black and white wartime images pasted over them, each taken from the same viewpoint. The island is largely undeveloped and the scars of war have melted into the landscape.

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