Ricky Maynard isn’t solely interested in creating great pieces of art. Instead Maynard aims for what he calls “great pieces of evidence.” Since the 1980s the photographer’s practice has focused on the history, trauma and struggle of Indigenous people, capturing significant historical sites, landscapes and community figures. Maynard’s most recent photographic series, Saddened Were the Hearts of Many Men, extends this ongoing pursuit.
Currently on display at the Art Gallery of South Australia, and showing as part of Tarnanthi festival, Saddened Were the Hearts of Many Men features 12 portraits; black and white portraits of friends from Maynard’s hometown of Flinders Island.
While these men are Maynard’s friends, the photographer mentions how – in our podcast conversation – the photographs stem from observations of his community. “It was about all the men and how they were having problems with their family and how as a community especially, we were politically overwhelmed by all these things happening to us in Tasmania,” he says.
Yet Maynard couldn’t initially grasp why these men were struggling within their day-to-day lives. “I started doing a bit of research into men’s health and I looked into a document called Beyond Bandaids, which is a 300 page document on the social determinants of Aboriginal health,” explains Maynard. “It’s there where I picked up the term about this ailment of modern men’s issues; it’s about intergenerational and trans-generational trauma.” This ongoing experience is what the portraits aim to capture, with Maynard looking at how unaddressed historical trauma can become daily-lived grief.
Such explorations have defined Maynard’s 30-year practice, which is marked by the ongoing intent to tell the story of Aboriginal people beyond a colonial gaze. Maynard discusses this in our conversation, beginning with how he became interested in documentary photography, while also considering his photos as a catalyst for future racial justice.
Various venues throughout Adelaide
13 October – 28 January 2018
Presented and produced by Tiarney Miekus. Engineering by Mino Peric. Music by Jesse Warren.