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New matter

Recent forms of photography

Zoë Croggon Dive #3 2013 type C photograph Art Gallery of New South Wales Viktoria Marinov Bequest Fund 2014 © Zoe Croggon Photo: the artist

New matter: recent forms of photography showcases work by early career Australian and international artists who are challenging preconceptions about photographic representation.

An Art Gallery of New South Wales collection exhibition, New matter: recent forms of photography is the first opportunity to view new acquisitions by fourteen contemporary photographers.

Whether they explore the expressive possibilities offered by digital technology or retain a commitment to analogue processes, the works in New matter: recent forms of photography investigate what a photograph is, not simply what it depicts.

Isobel Parker Philip, Art Gallery of NSW assistant curator of photographs said the works featured interrogate the material properties of the medium, posing the question: What are we looking at when we look at a photograph?

“These works make us mindful of the way we interact with the medium and propose new ways of reading a photograph. They direct attention away from pictorial content by camouflaging the subject or rendering it illegible and by embracing non-representation and the abstraction of form. Introducing tactility into the flat surface of the print and complicating the assumption that a photograph is born with the click of the shutter, these artists shatter a conventional understanding of the photographic gesture.

“In the digital age, we are bombarded by images that exist across multiple platforms simultaneously and rarely take the form of a finite or discrete photographic object. Our experience of an image’s material presence is undergoing a profound shift. Insisting on a definition of the photograph that acknowledges its existence as both material and immaterial, these artists recognise the importance of examining the mutability of the medium with renewed urgency and criticality,” Parker Philip said.

The photographs in New matter: recent forms of photography resist the category of the purely representational, subverting our tendency to treat the photograph as a passive conduit that we look through rather than at.

The artists in the exhibition extend the historical legacy of photographers committed to investigating and expanding the limits of the medium from its inception. Artists include Jacqueline Ball, Walead Beshty, Matthew Brandt, Danica Chappell, Zoë Croggon, Christopher Day, Charles Dennington, Cherine Fahd, Deb Mansfield, Todd McMillan, Luke Parker, Kate Robertson, James Tylor and Justine Varga.

As part of Art After Hours the Gallery will host a series of floor talks on New matter: recent forms of photography featuring curator Isobel Parker Philip and artists Luke Parker, Deb Mansfield, Todd McMillan, Justine Varga and Cherine Fahd. In November Professor Geoffrey Batchen will present a lecture Generation X: photography and materialism in association with the exhibition. The Gallery will also stage two events as part of the Access program: Art and dementia: Creative possibilities for photography and the Auslan talk Recent forms of photography.

On view
10 Sep 2016 – 26 Feb 2017
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Art Gallery Road, The Domain, Sydney


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Hannah McKissock-Davis
Tel 02 9225 1671