Sep 6, 2005

Tenuous link with the truth explored

Source: Sydney Morning Herald
Photographers have always manipulated their pictures, writes Lauren Martin.

A picture is worth a thousand words. Sometimes they are lies. Sometimes they are blanks, and you insert the words you like.

“Photographs are not simply a mirror to the world,” says Kate Rhodes, curator of a show of narrative photographs now at the National Library of Australia in Canberra. “[They are] one of the most complex and, at times, problematic forms of visual representation.”

And not just those pictures of the Photoshop generation. The photographs in Good Looking range through the 19th and 20th to the 21st century. Take Frank Hurley’s 12-picture tale from Shackleton’s Antarctic expedition; Rhodes says there are new suggestions Hurley tweaked the theatre inherent in real events by rubbing features out of his glass-plate negative.

Hanging opposite Hurley’s work is picture-telling from contemporary artist Tracey Moffatt. No need to tinker with negatives here; it’s all staged and lit like cinematic true fiction. Moffatt’s Laudanum series uses the rounded corners, fan shapes and photogravure of Hurley’s era, as Rhodes puts it, “to create a twisted Cinderella story around a white mistress and her Asian maid”.

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The show’s brochure is availble for download as an Acrobat PDF file.
PDF Link
(1 MB download)

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