National Gallery of Victoria
180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne, Vic
Exhibition Dates: 23 March – 16 September, 2012
Evidence of the continuing internationalization of photography is on display in the National Gallery of Victoria’s exhibition Light Works.
Drawn from its own collection, this show is explicitly curated around the theme of light, although many of the works displayed also seem to be united in their transnational approach and Zen-like ambience. American-born and Tasmanian-based, David Stephenson’s Star drawing 402 and Star drawing 505 are indicative, representing the delicate arcs described by stars in a night sky as the earth turns over a long exposure. Not far removed conceptually is English-born, Australian-raised, and American-based, Adam Fuss’ Untitled 1991, which shows the blue and white whirlpool pattern created by a flashlight suspended from a swinging pendulum, although the traces of light merge together as the pendulum slows, such that the resulting image becomes increasingly abstract.
A similar subtlety is found in Australian-born and American based, Simone Douglas’ Surrender (Collision) I and Surrender (Collision) III, in which barely discernable blue silhouettes dimly emerge from a dark background. Each of these works could have been made almost anywhere in the world. Is it that photographers who travel are interested in universal themes, or is the internationalization of photography leading to a convergence of interests? Works by Bill Henson, Sam Shmith, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Park Hong-Chun, Cristoph Dahlhousen, Eugenia Raskopolous, and Patrick Bailly-Maître-Grand are also on display. For this writer, only the construction-site aesthetic of Mike and Doug Starn’s Sol invictus struck a slightly discordant note among the otherwise meditative works exhibited.
Adam Fuss, English 1961–, worked in Australia /1962–82, United States 1982–Untitled (1991) cibachrome photograph, 164.3 x 125.0 cm, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Purchased through The Art Foundation of Victoria with the assistance of the Rudy Komon Fund, Governor, 1992. © Adam Fuss. Courtesy Cheim & Read, New York.