Photography Seminar is a program of six sessions that each examine key themes connected with current photographic practice and thinking. The emphasis will be on the discussion of artists’ work and how a reading of history and culture can inform our understanding of contemporary photographic practices. The six seminars will be hosted by artists, curators, academics, and writers and each of these presenters has also been asked to invite along a guest for their particular session. Photography Seminar aims to engender discussion and debate between the presenter and guest and the participatory audience attending the series.
The Photography Seminar Series is jointly organised by the MCA and Photography /UTS:Design (Co-organisers – Christopher Stewart, Associate Professor in Photography, UTS:Design, University of Technology Sydney and Dr. Mohini Chandra, Visiting Lecturer University of Wollongong).
Week One: Thursday 9 August
Christopher Stewart – Photography in Pieces
Christopher Stewart will be joined by Jaime Tsai as they discuss the presence of the photographic fragment in contemporary and historical visual art. The recent critical re-engagement with the discourse of collage and montage in contemporary art have also been accompanied by a poetic turn within many documentary photographic practices where visual eclecticism, syntactic dissonance and an interrogation of photographic materiality have served to revive the conceptual language of documentary photography.
Christopher Stewart is Associate Professor in Photography in the School of Design at UTS where he supervises research students and teaches into the Photography & Situated Media Program. His work in included in survey publications including the Thames and Hudson World of Art Series – The Photograph as Contemporary Art and recent group and solo exhibitions include The History of Now, F/STOP Fotografie Festival Leipzig (2012); Something That I’ll Never Really See, a Victoria and Albert Museum Collection touring exhibition at The National Gallery of Modern Art, New Dehli (2011); Darkside II, Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland (2009); and Super Border, Gimpel Fils, London (2009).
Dr. Jaime Tsai is a Visiting Lecturer in the School of Art History and Art Education, COFA, University of New South Wales, and also teaches at the University of Sydney and the National Art School. Her special area of research is Marcel Duchamp and twentieth-century art and thought.
Week Two: Thursday 16 August
Mohini Chandra – Photography’s Fluidity
The global flow of capital and culture is accompanied by the need to articulate identities that are no longer fixed or confined to particular geographical locations. This session examines the work of contemporary artists whose work engages with ideas of belonging, migration, and memory. The fluidity, hybridity and ‘non-translatability’ of postcolonial and global experience is here conjured up metaphorically through the utilisation of the fragmentary, wrecked and accidental vernacular image.
Dr. Mohini Chandra is currently a Visiting Lecturer in the Faculty of Creative Arts at the University of Wollongong. She has taught extensively in the UK including at the University of Westminster and Oxford Brookes University and was the first Arts and Humanities Research Council Research Fellow at the Royal College of Art in London. She has exhibited widely including at the First Johannesburg Biennale in South Africa; the Asia Society in New York; the Whitechapel Gallery in London and has written for journals and publications on photography including for The History of Photography and Creative Camera.
Mohini Chandra’s guest will be Seba Kurtis.
Seba Kurtis (born Argentina, 1974) grew up in Buenos Aires in the shadow of the Argentinian dictatorship. He studied journalism and was a political activist. In 2001, Argentina fell under economical and political crisis, he left for Europe and remained in Spain as an illegal immigrant for over five years. This experience became the main inspiration for his work – an exploration of the dynamics behind irregular migration and the resultant impact on culture, society and the individual. Now he lives in the UK. Seba completed his Masters in Fine Art at the London College of Communication and became a member of the POC project. His work has been exhibited widely, including New York Photofestival, Noorderlich, Host Gallery, Sifest, Images Vevey and Krakov Photomonth. Seba’s photographs have also appeared in various publications, including FOAM magazine, Foto8, Little White Lies, The Sunday Times and Wire, amongst others.
Week Three: Thursday 23 August
Daniel Palmer – The Everyday and Serial Photography
For many contemporary photographers, the everyday is not so much something to be documented as a logic for producing a photographic archive. In this session we look at contemporary artists who utilise seriality and systems-based approaches to photography initiated by conceptual and process-based art of the 1960s and 1970s. We are interested in understanding how contemporary projects both reproduce and differ from known modes of photoconceptualism. For instance, how does gender figure in contemporary works? Does Nicolas Bourriaud’s (much maligned) notion of ‘relational aesthetics’ offer a new way of thinking about photography and the everyday? At the same time, we are forced to ask: has serial photography reached a dead-end? Daniel’s guest for this session will be Cherine Fahd.
Dr. Daniel Palmer is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Theory of Art & Design at Monash University in Melbourne and his research focuses on contemporary art and cultural theory, with a particular emphasis on photography and digital media. He was formerly a curator at the Centre for Contemporary Photography in Melbourne where he is currently a board member. He writes extensively on contemporary art and photography and is a regular contributor of essays and articles to Australian and international art journals including Art & Australia, Photofile, RealTime, Broadsheet and Frieze. He is the author (with Blair French) of Twelve Australian Photo-Artists (Piper Press, 2009) and Photogenic (CCP, 2005).
Cherine Fahd is a Sydney-based artist whose work has been exhibited extensively and is represented in major public collections in Australia such as the Art Gallery of New South Wales, National Gallery of Victoria and Artbank. She is the recipient of numerous New Work grants from the Australia Council for the Arts along with art awards and residencies such as the NSW Women & Arts Fellowship from Arts NSW, the Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Foundation for the Arts Photography Award, the National Photography Prize and the Moya Dyring Studio from the AGNSW.
Week Four: Thursday 30 August
Helen Ennis – Quietness
Helen Ennis – 30th August – Quietness
Helen Ennis will discuss a selection of photographic works that are quiet and encourage quietness. She will give some historical references for contemporary works by Australian and New Zealand photographers that remove noise from the frame. That empty out the agitation of the external world and turn quietly inwards. She will identify a shared, pared back visual vocabulary and other devices that slow down our reading of the images. The significance of the interest in enigmatic and metaphoric associations will also be considered. Underpinning her talk are two key questions: how might the appearance of these photographic works be explained and what do they offer us at this particular moment in time? Helen will be joined by Petrina Hicks for this session.
Helen Ennis is Associate Professor, Art Theory, and Graduate Convenor, Research at the Australian National University School of Art. She is one of Australia’s leading photography curators, historians and writers and was Curator of International and Australian Photography at the National Gallery of Australia from 1985-92. Her curatorial projects include A Modern Vision: Charles Bayliss, Photographer 1850-1897, National Library of Australia (2008); Reveries: Photography & Mortality, National Portrait Gallery (2007); Margaret Michaelis: love, loss and photography, National Gallery of Australia (2005); Mirror with a memory: Photographic portraiture in Australia (National Portrait Gallery, 2000). Helen has published extensively including Photography and Australia (Reaktion, London, 2007); Reveries: Photography and Mortality (Canberra, National Portrait Gallery, 2007); and books and catalogues on Olive Cotton, Wolfgang Sievers, Margaret Michaelis, Frank Hurley and Charles Bayliss.
Petrina Hicks has exhibited her work nationally and internationally including solo and groups shows in Australia, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, USA, UK, Japan, China, Mexico and Brazil. Recently, her work was selected for the 17th International Videobrasil in Brazil and the Pingyao International Photography Festival in China. Her work is part of numerous public and private collections including the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Queensland Art Gallery, Tweed River City Art Gallery, National Gallery of Victoria.
Week Five: Thursday 6 September
Bec Dean – The Performance of Self
From the performance of identity in self-portraiture, the omnipresence of camera phones and confessional digital platforms, to questions of authorship and the rights of the subject in documentary photography and reportage, artists, instagrammers and documentary photographers are grappling with increasingly complex issues of representation. In this session Bec Dean will discuss the implications of performing the self in our current visual culture.
Bec Dean is Co-Director of Performance Space. She is a curator and writer who trained as a visual artist and was formerly a curator at the Australian Centre for Photography (2005-2007) and Exhibition Manager at Perth Institute of Contemporary Art (2002-2005). She has written catalogue essays for galleries and museums including Art Gallery of NSW, Institute of Modern Art (Brisbane), Artspace (Sydney) and Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, and reviews, previews and features in numerous Australian publications including Art & Australia, Artlink, RealTime, Column, Photofile, Flash, Runway, un Magazine and Broadsheet.
Bec Dean’s guest will be Joanne Saad.
Joanne Saad is a photographer based in Wollongong, New South Wales. She says, “My fascination for photography developed at an early age, when I would be forever going through my parents’ old black and white photographs which were mainly of family members and events. My father had taken most of the photographs and was the first person in his village in Lebanon to get a camera. It was these images he took of Lebanon before he left there that I love the most. As a photographer, I am drawn to photographing people and this is because I am interested in how and why we exist, how we learn to live with one another, love one another…how time and place can influence the life of an individual. People coming to a new country bring with them customs, traditions and rituals from their country of origin and then find the need to adapt these aspects of their lives to fit into a new society. During this process certain elements are lost and altered particularly as they are passed from generation to generation. My photographs focus on what is left. Joanne was an exhibitor in the 2010 William & Winifred Bowness Photography Prize at Monash Gallery of Art.
Week Six: Thursday 13 September
Adam Jasper – What Photography Was?
It is only with obsolescence that a media’s parameters become completely visible to us. Up until the point of obsolescence there is always the battle of content and form: the question of the message the media transmits, whom that message is from, who it is for, and whose interests it serves. With obsolescence comes autonomy: the photograph, as it was theorised for most of the last hundred and fifty years, is now no longer a living medium, but rather an artefact. In this session Adam Jasper reads the work of art historian James Elkins and media historian Friedrich Kittler against material objects of the discipline to ask “What was photography?”
Dr. Adam Jasper is a Lecturer in the Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building at the University of Technology Sydney where he teaches in the Photography and Situated Media Program. He is a regular contributor to Cabinet, Frieze, and Art & Australia.
Adam Jasper’s guest will be Patrick Pound.
Patrick Pound is a Melbourne-based artist working across mediums. He has held solo exhibitions at Grantpirrie Gallery, Sydney, Hamish Mackay Gallery, Wellington and the Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne. He has been included in numerous group exhibitions including Present Tense: An imagined grammar of portraiture in the digital age (National Portrait Gallery, Canberra); Someone looking at something (West Space, Melbourne); and Photographer Unknown (Monash University Museum of Art). Patrick Pound’s work is held in numerous public and private collections including: the National Gallery of Australia, the NGV, the Museum of New Zealand, Auckland Art Gallery, and the Dunedin Art Gallery.
William Yang Joe 1979
ink on silver gelatin photograph 27 × 40.3 cm
Museum of Contemporary Art, purchased
1999 Image courtesy and © the artist