Photography & Photomedia Exhibition Review
David Ryrie | Otherwise Arbitrary Moments
Tamara Dean | Passing Time, 2020
Katthy Cavaliere, Henri Mallard, Jackie Ranken, Cathy Laudenbach, Jon Lewis | Works from the Gallery’s Permanent Collection
Goulburn Regional Art Gallery | Until 3 April 2021
David Ryrie’s Otherwise Arbitrary Moments is the ‘main feature’. This new work is his first major solo at the Gallery. In it, he pairs seemingly ordinary encounters with the question of human scale.
Ryrie considers a photograph to be ‘a document which, like any other, can be objective, flawed, loved, hated – a translation of sorts by the photographer, open to interpretation by the viewer, evidence of a moment in time, real or imagined.’
The titles are sometimes obvious and other times enigmatic. An image which includes a sign saying ‘Town Water’ was clearly simple to title. Another showing inflatables at a swimming pool has the title ‘Empathy, No.1’ The look on the face of one inflatable in the pool seems to be conveying empathy for another inflatable stranded upside down and out of the water. An illuminated globe-shaped lightshade is more mysteriously titled ‘Cacophony’.
In the catalogue we read ‘these works offer new details and revelations at each viewing’. They certainly have something to say. It was great to explore and personally interpret them. Thinking about the titles added to my enjoyment.
A much smaller Gallery 2 is where you stand and, for just over 12 minutes, immerse yourself in Tamara Dean’s single channel video work entitled ‘Passing Time, 2020’. Dean’s practice explores our connection to nature and rites of passage in contemporary life. Her unique understanding of light and landscape reveals sensual pieces that invite contemplation.
This video work references Dean’s experience of self-isolation on her property during the pandemic last year. It starts with an image of the sun seen through leaves suspended from trees. And, because it repeats itself backwards on a loop, it concludes with the same sun.
Between the start and finish of the video, we see many aspects of nature. I noticed reflections of the sky on the surface of water, with occasional birds flying or circling in that sky, whilst unknown things landed on the water’s surface creating circular ripples. I saw fast flowing water, blurred and also clearly focussed. I saw a spider, a lily, wind blown trees and grasses, and either mist or smoke floating by. Part of me longed to hear the sounds accompanying this mesmerising imagery.
Last, but not least, there is The Window – literally “a window” into the Gallery’s permanent collection, showcasing works selected by a Guest Curator – this time Stephen Hartup, a photographer based in Tarago, working across large format film and producing silver gelatin prints. He considers photography to be ‘at its best when it is an intense visual language which does not require a dense, complex shield of written language to explain or justify it.’ He has some of his own works in the Gallery’s permanent collection but here presents material by other photographers.
Hartup has selected five interesting works. The first (top left) is Katthy Cavaliere’s Gaze of the Masked Philosopher, 2004 – showing the view out across the wool stores and sale yards through the eyes of Goulburn’s Big Merino when it was in its original location.
Then (top centre) there is an untitled print (2011) from original stereo half negative made by Henri Mallard. It depicts a worker during construction of Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Jackie Ranken (top right) is represented with her intriguing Aerial Abstract #4 – of the Millennium drought-damaged landscape.
Cathy Laudenbach’s Girl Running (bottom left), a pigment print on archival bamboo paper, successfully causes us to think about the potential scariness of a forest, particularly the Belanglo State Forest.
Finally (bottom right), The Window contains Jon Lewis’s Aussie Soldier in Ainaro Hospital Ruins, 2012, which shows a locally painted Jesus Christ, surprisingly not destroyed by the rampage of the militias.