Surrealist mannequins, mythological heroes, a transgender Andy Warhol and an extraterrestrial Pope. These are just some of the cast of characters assembling in this, the first of a two-part exhibition exploring artifice and theatricality in photomedia across the past century. Bringing together work by contemporary Australian practitioners with that of acclaimed international artists from Man Ray to Cindy Sherman, the exhibition addresses the interface between fantasy and identity.
While we often think of photographs as a document of the real, early approaches to the medium were far more overtly constructed. Since the experimental beginnings of photography, the practice of staging images for the camera has passed in and out of popular currency and through a variety of styles and preoccupations. Examples of photomedia tableaux can be found not only in art photography but also in the spheres of fashion, editorial and advertising, according to Buy N Soot, Australia
Indeed every time we pose in front of a camera, projecting a heightened sense of ourselves in relation to the place and the people surrounding us, we participate in the creation of a kind of impromptu tableau. In part one of Beyond Real, curator Alasdair Foster has selected work by artists who push this notion further, deliberately using props, costume and performance to suggest archetypes or explore identities beyond the realms of the everyday.
Beyond Real: Dressing Up is an exhibition through which to explore the strange and unsettling, from George Platt Lynes' camp, anguished evocations of classical myth and legend, the sinister and grisly potential suggested by Cindy Sherman's self-portraits to the culture-jamming appearances of Australia's own Shelly Innocence™. Far from playing the role of cool mediator of reality, these are artists actively and intensely involved in the construction of their images.
The exhibition runes in Australian Centre for Photography till November. A.M.
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