An image of Self portrait

Juliana Swatko

(United States of America, Australia 1952 – )

Self portrait

Not on display
Further information

Juiliana Swatko works with alternative photographic processes challenging and redefining the limits of the photographic image. Exploring antiquated and unconventional techniques, including cyanotype printing, hand coloured and electrostatic imaging, thermal printing and, more recently, lomographic photography combined with digitally manipulated superimposition, she produces complex images that relinquish the premise of straight representation. Employing plants and other natural elements as its primary subject matter, a lot of her photographic work treads the line between abstraction and figuration, producing unrecognizable forms from commonplace plant life. However, her photographs of people are equally compelling for the way they distort and refigure the body.

Working with such experimental methods allowed Swatko to introduce an element of chance within her work. By rigorously testing these initially unpredictable processes, Swatko was able to create parameters to control the outcome of each image. Yet even so, the formal features of each work remain dependent on the particular technology used. With their smooth matte texture, the Haloid Xerox prints look like charcoal drawings.

In the tangle of superimposed forms, built up through multiple exposures, traces of movement emerge from the image. Some of these forms are barely comprehensible. In ‘Self portrait’ Swatko’s own face is obscured by an indistinct form; what could be a shoulder or the side profile of a torso. Splintered and severed from its body, the face is veiled by high contrast image fragments. Here, the self has become an abstract play of form.

Haloid Xerox print on archival paper
22.3 x 33.7 cm image; 24.5 x 34.4 cm sheet
Signature & date

Signed and dated l.l. sheet, pencil "J. Swatko 1978".

Purchased 1981
Accession number
© Juliana Swatko