Traditionally, photographs reveal the character of places like Perth through iconography or colour (Bankwest Tower, sunsets). “This is the opposite of that,” says curator Chelsea Hopper. With HERE&NOW17: New Photography, Hopper describes that the way a photograph is taken, the activity of looking, is equally compelled by place.
Snapped by iPhone on Perth’s four ‘corridor’ train lines, a series of tiny photographs by Scott Burton document the brightness and utility of the liminal spaces that link Perth’s gentrified precincts. Usually ‘exhibited’ on Instagram, Hopper relocates them to the gallery, articulating the vitality of the margins of photography.
In Kings Park, Lucy Griggs picks wildflowers (some native, some nominal natives). These are laid on cyanotype paper, which reacts to sunlight and records the blossom’s outline in deep indigo, the colour of Perth’s noon sky. “Perth is the sunniest city. We get 8.8 hours of sunlight a day,” Hopper reports. “Lucy uses this light as a camera.”
When impressed by a WA landscape, Dan McCabe purposefully commits it to memory, to later recreate using lustrous, coloured slates of Perspex for his Joiner series. Without using a camera, Hopper explains, McCabe is nonetheless looking, noticing, and taking a picture.
Driving on the Tonkin, Lydia Trethewey photographs the plaque lining Perth’s arterial airport highway: power lines, traffic furniture. Trethewey applies solvents to her prints, endowing them with a moody, warped surface. A 3000-frame animation collates these images into a billowing, sublime vision of inter-suburb travel.
HERE&NOW17 focuses not on what Perth looks like, but on ways of seeing Perth, how image crafting happens here: “This project is about photography, not of photography,” says Hopper.