Written by Phillip Joshua
Photography ‘seems’ to be an art form that has been behind the 8 ball ever since its conception in the early 19th century. What I mean by this is, photography is one of the art forms that is based on technology and has never been seriously viewed as a ‘pure art form’ like painting or sculpture work. Being the ‘new’ thing has always been a difficult concept to grasp for humans whether it be the new kid at school or new work procedures, we take time to adapt. Whilst we have definitely come to terms and adapted to a photographic culture, the fact remains that photography - being an oversaturated market, lends to the idea of it being a more simplistic art form. It is this idea that lead me back to some of the best Art Exhibitions within Australia, GOMA and QAG to explore some art culture.
We decided it would be good to write an article on art in order to show our community of photographers why it is important to continually view new work. It is so important for us as photographic practitioners to continually expand our horizons in order for us to evolve.
I have been to GOMA many times before and always have walked out feeling my outlook on art has been challenged, whether it has been good or bad, being challenged is always a great thing. But I will start off by discussing the ‘elephant in the room’ at GOMA. The whole bottom floor was under construction when I went and I had picked a time in between two of the best artist exhibits possibly of 2018. With social media these days you can see everyone posting about the amazing work of Yayoi Kusama whose work had just finished exhibiting a week earlier and to top it off the construction is for the installation of Patricia Piccinini’s who opens there a few weeks later. This is not to say the rest of the exhibitions where not worthwhile so let’s take a look at them and the pieces that particularly stood out.
There are 4 current exhibitions throughout the different galleries at GOMA which are ‘Time and Tides: Art in Torres Strait Islands, Queensland’, ‘Limitless Horizon: Vertical Perspective’, ‘The Long Story’ and ‘Measures of Distance’. These exhibitions encompass a vast array of cultural work from across the globe and include various mediums.
You may question how some of these works can help your personal growth as a photographer such as the work from ‘Time and Tides: Art in Torres Strait Islands, Queensland’. Two examples here without putting on a big “art spin” include the works of the woven baskets and headdress/Dhoeri’s. The adaption of pieces like these over time may be subtle but significant none the less. Whilst the general concept may not have overly changed, when you dig deep and look at the materials they have been created with over time you start to see their evolution and this relates directly to photographic practices. The one consistency with digital photography (the basket) is the photos are all made from files created by millions of pixels. You could say the similar opportunity for a photographer to create and evolve would be with the output materials (different weaves, rope, twines, colours etc.). Without being able to create the digital cameras our chance to help the evolution of the art is by playing with output creation. Think of different ways you can portray your work whether it be on plain photo paper, a bedroom wall painted with light sensitive material with a projected image or even tree bark, cloth, a basket etc.
A great example of altering the output process is Phuan Thai Meng whose work depicts Malaysia’s rapidly transforming urban environment and by cutting the canvas is challenging our concept of the norm within the painting realm. This is a great piece that we as photographers can take a lot from. Alongside this is the humorous work Ginhongsok, ‘Canine Construction’ which explores the clash of politics, ethics and humor with this dog sculpture made from easy-tie garbage bags cast in resin, referencing the balloon-dog sculptures of Jeff Koons.
The work of Gordon Bennett ‘Requiem, Of Grandeur, Empire’ 1998 is an excellent example of how you should visualize/plan your final output. A triptych serves as a simple yet effective method of breaking the traditional mold and you can take this further by altering size and layout of the triptych. This type of work can produce stunning results whether you make the triptych from one image or you use 3 complimentary shots, Bennett’s ‘Requiem, Of Grandeur, Empire’ is a brilliant reminder that you can create stunning results by thinking outside of the frame.
There are many artworks to share and talk about between both GOMA and QAG, but you probably don’t have the time to hear them all. So we recommend going to see them, some of which host Pablo Picasso’s and a Yayoi Kusama ‘Narcissus garden’ and so many more incredibly talented artists. By experiencing these different mediums you truly open up new possibilities that will help you explore other avenues within photography you may not have considered before.
Finally, to leave you with a few points on why we believe you should go explore your local photography and art exhibitions. In order to progress in society, we need to think outside the box and in photography this has never been truer, as more images are being created everyday and it is becoming increasingly difficult to be unique. By exploring our photographic and artistic past/present we can evolve the photographic future paving the way for photography as a “real” art form. We need to have a good knowledge of the past so we know which direction to lead the future, besides how can we progress if we have no idea what we are progressing from.
So, we encourgae you to get out and about - go and explore your local galleries, you never know what may inspire you!