Now at the Centre for Contemporary Photography

I attended the opening of the latest exhibition at the CCP last night. In Gallery 1 to 4 are showing respectively John Nixon, Phuong Ngo, Siri Hayes, and Mark Beehre. In the night projection window is the South Korean artist, Junebum Park.

John Nixon

The artist John Nixon (Gallery 1) was new to me. His series, Black white & grey. photographic studies (photosheets), compares and contrasts textures, shapes, and light, among other things, through close up photography. The final images are presented as 4x6” prints pasted on Manila folders. Categorization and organization are important characteristics of this series. The investigation of simple photography principles lead to abstraction, which is what Nixon is further exploring. These studies reminded me ofthe black and white abstract photos of László Moholy-Nagy. It would be interesting to see this series shot on grainy film, which would add another dimension to the exploration.

Mark Beehre

Mark Beehre (Gallery 4) was another artist new to me. His series, Men Undressed, consisted of portraits of male nudes. (Apparently, this is only the third time the CCP has ever exhibited nudes.) These men were casually posing in their own environment, staring back at the camera.The portraits explored intimacy between the viewers and the subjects. It would be noteworthy to investigate the ‘male gaze’ versus ‘female gaze’ for this exhibition. Also, if the nude subject is in a position of vulnerability, can the viewer really feel more intimate with the subject beyond feeling in a position of power? 

I had seen the works of Phuong Ngo (Gallery 2) last year at the Rae & Bennett Gallery. I found his exploration of identity and culture very interesting. For this show, Domino Theory explores how politics influenced the history of the Vietnam War and its impact on the people it affected, and how Ngo was consequently affected as a Vietnamese Australian/Australian Vietnamese. I liked the craftsmanship involved in his installation which consisted of glass-like rectangular prisms on which a transparency of a black and white image is embedded on one side. These prisms were set upright on low tables covered with graphic papers. I think conceptually, the installation works well with the complex nature of the topic of the Vietnam War and politics.

Phuong Ngo

Siri Hayes

All you knit is love by Siri Hayes (Gallery 4) was the exhibition that impressed me the most. It involves photography, installation, and mixed media. The show consists of framed large format prints of portraits and landscapes. The framing definitely added to the overall aesthetic. This series was done during Hayes’ residency in Spain in 2010. The landscape shots are stunning and remind me of Romantic landscape paintings. Through this series, she explored a new environment from her perspective as tourist, artist, and parent. I found similarities in her interest in investigating a new place from a maternal point of view. I will become a mother soon and I’m intrigued about how other female artists’ creative process is affected by such a life changing experience. I think that Hayes managed to successfully incorporate the maternal in her series. I particularly liked the way the maternal was suggested in the use of mixed media (pearls and embroidery) in 2 of her portraits. Even the landscapes have an element of the personal incorporated in the image. I recommend Hayes’ exhibition as well as the others as all artists used the medium of photography differently and interestingly.