GOfish3. First published in November 2010 by Advision ABN 65066093023 Printed by Chambers and Whyte Wagga Wagga
ISSN 1836-3636 GOfish may not be reproduced in whole or part without written permission of the publishers. GOfish Magazine 4 Gurwood Street Wagga Wagga NSW 2650 Australia +61 2 6921 8025 email: firstname.lastname@example.org web: www.gofish.org.au Cover artwork by Jorge Rodriguez Gerada Art Director and Editor Michael Agzarian Graphic Designer and Assistant Editor Missy Dempsey
Feature Artists Mervyn Bishop
Jorge Rodriguez Gerada
Contributors Rose Fyson 6 Katie Fairservice 7 Daniel Gonzalez Coves 8 Liam Lander 10 Hilary Sloane 11 Thomas Grabka 12 Ognjen Stevanovic 14 Peter NorĂŠn 15 Rory Madigan 16 Rebecca Pitt 17 J. M. Beach 18 Sarah Keyes 19 Meg Willis 20 Elisha Winkel 21 Bart Schouteten 22 Canny Kinloch 23 Sarah-Jane Guthrie 24 Caitlin Hackett 25 Maxeen Weaver 26 April Larivee 27 Evert Ploeg 28 Natasha Cantwell 30 Ryan Connors 31
Rengim Mutevelliglu 32 Tegan Carter 33 Mervyn Bishop 34 Keri-Anne Pink 42 Therese Geronimo 43 Swetlana Gasetski 44 Jaime Mitropoulos 46 Michael Agzarian 47 Jorge Rodriguez Gerada 48 David Weir 52 Tilly Clifford is 53 proudly Svetlana Muradova 54 by: sponsored Bradley Eldridge 55 Daniel Zender 56 Lisa Bow 58 Ali J 59 David Clarke 60 Wendy Bastock Agzarian 61 Samantha Mullavey 62 Amy Sinclair 63 Jessica Geppert 64 Wagga RSL Errol Fielder 65 Dobb Street, Wagga Wagga Martin Taylor 66
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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are warned that the following document contains images of deceased persons which may be considered culturally sensitive.
“portraits remembered are not always the truest likeness of the subject, but capture the nuance of a sentiment which inspires inner reflection” CJ Rider GOfish 3 has the theme portraits. In this issue the featured artists are; Mervyn Bishop – the first professional Indigenous photographer who has created an immense photographic record of Australian history and Indigenous experience in the second half of the twentieth century. And the talented Cuban American artist Jorge Rodriguez Gerada, whose empathy for humanity inspires him to create work that questions how we are being affected by the marketing and advertising industries. From the very first issue, our idea was to produce a magazine that showcases the work of local and international artists and writers. Following on the success of GOfish1 and 2, we are confident that this is the best issue so far – more artists, more articles, more work - a rich and wonderful kaleidoscope across genres and styles. It is rare to have so many different styles in one publication that deal exclusively with portraiture. GOfish3 is a result of dedication and many long hours of research and hard work. Again the encouragement of friends and colleagues helped it come together, particularly Paul Wighton and Alan Rowlands. Our thanks to all the contributors, our generous sponsors, especially the Wagga RSL Club and Chambers-Whyte Printers. With forty six artists in nearly seventy pages, this issue of GOfish is worth getting excited about! Michael Agzarian and Missy Dempsey
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GOfish03: Interview 1. (a) What attracts artists to portraiture? (b) What attracts the public to exhibitions of portraiture? Artists can make a self portrait at any time. This is a great way to practice your art making as well as closely examine your selfhood. How do you represent your inner self? How can a portrait suggest the character of someone beyond the surface representation of their likeness? These are powerful questions that have always been present for artists, and these questions are still highly relevant today. What was the first portrait a human ever made? Perhaps it was the first conscious impression made by a human hand pressed into sand, clay or dirt. What are possibilities for representing the human self into the future? As a genre of art, portraiture is accessible because everyone can recognise what a portrait is: it’s usually an image of another person. The history of portraiture is bound up with European ideas of power. Portraits were made as symbols of political power, or else images of people were made for scientific and ethnographic purposes where the result was often to objectify or romanticise people, and in many cases to render them powerless. Contemporary approaches to portraiture can challenge traditions of portraiture. Portraits can be made that evoke identity without having to depict a person’s face. Exhibitions of portraiture can be highly compelling because they can reveal the shared experience of what it is to be human.
Dr Chris Chapman, Acting Senior Curator National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
2. Which artist do you most admire for their work with portraiture? Working at the National Portrait Gallery I see a lot of portraits created in diverse contexts. The Gallery’s collection focuses on portraits of people who have made unique contributions to Australian culture and society. The collection display is about identity through portraiture. Our changing exhibition program explores portraiture and identity from around the world in the broadest sense. I’m interested in the different ways in which identity can be communicated. My PhD was on youth masculinity and how it has been constructed by social expectations and social fears at different times in history. I wanted to explore how alternative forms of youth masculinity could be expressed and supported. I enjoy the work of artists who are really interested in questions of identity. Right now personally I’m enjoying the work of Paul Mpagi Sepuya who lives in Brooklyn, New York (www.paulsepuya.com). He makes portrait photographs that are very economical in form and to me they have a great tenderness and gentle aesthetic atmosphere. 3. What makes a good portrait? I don’t think you can apply a formula to a portrait that works out how successful or interesting or relevant it is. A good portrait can take infinite forms. Leonardo da Vinci’s portrait Mona Lisa was painted 500 years ago and it’s probably the most famous portrait in the world. Why? It has been suggested that the painting allowed viewers to project any fantasy onto the subject’s “enigmatic smile”. Now it’s famous for being famous. Andy Warhol’s portrait of Marilyn Monroe is a “good portrait” because it talks about her status as an iconic mass-produced image. It’s also poignant because Warhol made more than twenty versions in the four months after Monroe died in August 1962. A good portrait doesn’t have to be a truthful likeness. An expressionistic portrait painting might sum up a person’s character with greater force than a photograph. Or a photographic portrait might be able to convey the subtleties of a person’s presence. I would say that the subjectivity of the viewer is paramount. 3
4. Which angle or pose brings out the best in a face? That’s a question for each artist to answer in relation to what they want to achieve. 5. Why do some portraits make it easy for us to connect to them? Our responses to portraiture, and to all forms of visual art, can only be based on the combination of highly subjective factors and forces. When I was a teenager at Girraween High School in Sydney’s western suburbs it was the Pop Art in our art-class text book that really spoke to me. Ever since then I’ve been fascinated by art that uses cultural forms but also challenges the dominant forces in culture. I’ve just put together a small focus display at the National Portrait Gallery of photographic portraits that evoke the frisson between the “glamour” and “grunge” of the 1990s. While Calvin Klein was using Mark Wahlberg to advertise underwear, Kurt Cobain was representing for an alternative counterculture. Those positions were reflected in the art of the time too. So, looking at a photographic portrait of Australian actor Noah Taylor from 1994, for example, brings with it a whole set of personal associations and cultural references relevant to me and my experience as a so-called Gen-X’er. For someone else those associations may not be present, but I’m sure there are other portraits of other people that will evoke strong associations and feelings for them. Psychology plays a strong role here. 4 GOfish3 Portraits Issue
6. When is a portrait not a portrait? Last year for the exhibition “Portraits + Architecture” the Portrait Gallery invited seven of Australia’s most unique and innovative architecture practices to produce installations as “self portraits” of their practice. It was a challenge for them to distil their philosophy or process into an installation of objects of images that reflected the personality and style of their architecture work. The results were hugely varied – from an ecologically conscious interactive building activity by CO-AP Collaborative Architecture Practice to a suite of warm photographs of people living in spaces designed by Kerstin Thompson Architects. It was quite amazing how well these self portrait installations captured the spirit of each architect team. We also commissioned photographic portraits of the architects that were displayed alongside their installations. The definition of what a portrait might be allows a lot of scope for imagination and interpretation. 7. Which medium do you feel best displays the depth of someone’s character in a portrait? The National Portrait Gallery collection has portraits made in mediums that include: painting (oil, acrylic, mixed media), sculpture (plaster, marble, bronze, ceramic, stone, steel, wax), drawing (pencil, charcoal, ink, watercolour, pastel), photography (daguerreotypes, album cards, silver gelatin, digital, lenticular and lightbox prints), collage, screen-printing, video, digital animation, and holography. Each different medium, along with each artist’s technique and style, and the attributes of each individual sitter produce uniquely different portraits.
8. As portraiture moves away from the classic or fixed style what do you see as the future of portraiture to be and how varied or open will the art of portraits become? It’s fair to say that photographic and digital technologies dominate portraiture right now. Artists also continue to work in a range of mediums including painting and sculpture and they always will. Websites, blogs, micro-blogs such as tumblr and communication platforms such as twitter as well as user-generated video channels such as YouTube make it easy to post and send portraits as photographs and videos to small or large networks of people. How does this affect our perception of individual identity? What does it mean to participate in a phenomenon that encodes, classifies and atomises identity across and between the societies that have access to digital and online technologies? Who does it exclude? How to represent selfhood in this cultural environment is one of the guiding forces for portraiture into the future. 9. How would you encourage young artists keen on portraiture to maintain their interest and have a constant stream of new and developing work? Artists have always given us new ways of looking, feeling and thinking about our selves and the world. Making art can be highly satisfying but it also takes dedication and commitment. If you are serious about being an artist try to set aside dedicated time each week to make your work. Keep a visual diary to record your thoughts and ideas. Don’t worry too much about consciously developing your own style – that will come naturally over time. Read as much as you can about the things that interest you. The best way to develop your skills in portraiture is to practice by making portraits of your friends, your family and yourself. And there’s no need to rush things.
10. How did you come to fill this role you have now? Right now I am the Acting Senior Curator at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra, and I’ve been working here for three years. We have a curatorial team of four and our main role is to lead the research, development and presentation of the Gallery’s collection and exhibitions. We work closely and collaboratively with our colleagues who look after the learning and access programs, registration and exhibition logistics, marketing, publications and online projects and talks and events; all reporting to the Gallery Director and Board. Next time you’re in Canberra you should visit, or you can check us out online at www.portrait.gov.au. I studied art history at the University of Sydney and my first job was Assistant Curator of Australian Drawings at the National Gallery of Australia twenty years ago. I’ve always had a real passion for contemporary art and it was important for me to become involved in local art spaces and write about the work I thought was significant. I moved to Adelaide for an Associate Curator position at the Art Gallery of South Australia and then took on the Directorship of the Experimental Art Foundation which was a great opportunity to work directly with contemporary artists. Then I decided to do a postgraduate degree and I returned to Canberra to write my PhD at the Australian National University where I also taught art theory at the art school. The National Portrait Gallery was recruiting for new staff and I applied for the job of Curator, and was successful. It’s a great place to work and I love that we have the opportunity to explore identity in so many ways.
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Daniel Gonzalez Coves
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Hilary Sloane 11
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J. M. Beach What is fiction? Fiction is a necessary part of the human condition. The human mind is an imperfect recorder of experience, whether it is preserved through memory, the written word, or paint. But this does not mean that our subjective experience is false. The equation of fiction with falsity is a modern fallacy. It comes from the reductionist assumptions of positivist scientism. Fiction derives from the Latin verb fictio, which means create, make, or form. Fiction is based on the fact that human consciousness is an active power. Consciousness acts on experience. Consciousness is not a passive receptor. Consciousness forms experience with identity and colours it with meaning. Our subjectivity co-creates experience with the objective world. Our minds cooperate with the world in order to produce an interaction between knower and known. The active creativity of human subjectivity does not falsify experience: it simply alters it, adds to it, enhances it, and makes it usable. Human perception is partly constituted by the perceptual process. We see with more than our eyes. We also see with our wants, our needs, and our hopes. We see with more than our intellect. We also see with our emotions. We see with more than our own self. We also see with preconceived social assumptions, backgrounds, gestalts, ideologies, paradigms, and epistemes. These are various names for the “epistemological unconscious” that shapes both our perceptual process and our personality. We all inherit ways of being and thinking that are particular to our unique social and historical context. Our epistemological unconscious helps us understand and participate in our culture. We can never escape our subjectivity, nor can we eradicate the cultural influences that have shaped us since we were born. But we can become more aware of how they influence our perceptual process. We can also become more aware of how our subjectivity and culture can be influenced in turn, and how they can be changed. We can better understand how we subjectively experience life, how we know our experience, and how we can communicate our experience. This is the domain of classical philosophy. If we can gain this knowledge, then we can learn how to actively participate in the construction of truth. We can then use truth, combined with our daily experiences, to create wisdom. We need wisdom to guide our actions and clarify our thoughts. We use it to understand our subjectivity, participate in our culture, and contribute to our society. But how do we act upon the world we see? And what does it mean to create truth? When we see the world through direct experience or through memory, we do not simply see, as if looking through a window. 18 GOfish3 Portraits Issue
Instead we see the external world through the stained glass of our consciousness, which has been shaped by our parents, our culture, our language, but also by our own experience, our goals, and our unique personality. The visionary English poet William Blake once said that we all see the world, but we do not all see it the same way. Blake believed that he could see strange things: angels dancing around the sun and the dead walking around his garden. During his lifetime most people thought Blake to be eccentric, if not completely crazy. But Blake’s experience was very real to him, and he lived his life according to his subjective vision, producing profoundly beautiful poetry, paintings, and deep insights into the human condition. Blake understood that the perceptual process was a creative activity and he actively created his own life. When we see the world through subjective experience, we make the objective world part of our unique consciousness. We then cognitively organize and verbally express our subjective experience in order to give it form and meaning. These verbal constructs become artifacts of experience, like memories or narratives. After the living moments of our life pass away, we carry the most important as memories in a fictional place we call the past, imperfectly stored in the subconscious netherworld of our biological brain. When we go to recollect a memory, we reconstruct it through narrative, reconstituting our experience into a recognizable and meaningful form. This reconstituting process does mean that fiction falsifies experience, although our memory does change experience by adding, subtracting, rearranging, or revising certain parts. Our subjective perception, conception, and verbalization of the world, whether through lived experience or through memory, whether completely factual or not, has definite phenomenological reality – our experience seems real to us even if we don’t accurately understand it. Human beings do not need facts or complete knowledge of the objective world in order to live. We all make decisions based on incomplete knowledge or no knowledge at all. However, there are some things that we do need. We need meaning to make our lives worth living. We need wisdom to guide our daily actions. We also need to communicate our lived experience with others. We need to share the meaningful experiences of our lives or the lives of others in powerful stories called “myths.” We collect these meaningful stories over a lifetime and preserve them in personal or collective cannons. These stories define our identity, motivate and guide our actions, and preserve that which should not be forgotten. These myths might not be objectively true, but they are the truth by which we live.
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Caitlin Hackett 25
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> This self-portrait by Evert Ploeg has been selected as a finalist in The Newcastle Regional Gallery Bi-annual Kilgour Figurative Art Prize 2010 for the most outstanding figure in composition.
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Evert Ploeg Fine Artist With a direct and sculptural approach, Ploeg explores more than just a mere likeness or pictorial representation, but instead strives to show the truth of character and personality. In earlier works, alternative textures and surfaces were often used to exemplify the narrative of the subject. The evolved use of a more confident, lively and artistic approach has symbiotically created a feeling of movement and a ‘sense of moment’, searching for the experience found somewhere between a still and moving image. The portraits still maintain texture and intuitive expressive marks, but with subtlety and in harmony with a mature application of tones. With numerous awards and accolades including two People’s Choice wins and a Packers Prize in Australia’s Archibald Prize, Winner of the Shirley Hannan National Portrait Prize and recipient of an Exceptional Merit Award and Honourable Mention from the Portrait Society of America, Evert Ploeg’s portraiture is well represented in the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra, University of Melbourne, the Australian War Memorial and the prestigious Melbourne Cricket Club.
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“As the first professional Indigenous photographer in Australia, Mervyn Bishop has created an immense photographic record of Australian history and Indigenous experience in the second half of the twentieth century. Working for the Sydney Morning Herald, the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and as a freelance photographer, Bishop’s work has spanned almost five decades and is unmatched in its sheer quantity and breadth of representation of the diversity of Indigenous experience.”
Photography has the power to define, control, reinforce and reproduce taken for granted assumptions and perspectives (Dewdney, 1994, p1). Although photography can be used harmfully, it can also be used to positive effect. In the context of contemporary Indigenous art, the use of photography by Indigenous artists has provided an opportunity to retake, re-present, reclaim and largely reconfigure photographic representations of “Aboriginality” in ways that counteract denigrating and stereotypical imaging (Gellatly, 2000, p286). Before continuing, it is important to note that “Aboriginality” did not exist in 1788 – it was a social construction of the British invaders, invented as an essentialist designation (Hollinsworth, 1992, p138, Russell, 2000, p3). The ability of Indigenous artists to represent themselves and their communities, on their own terms and then present their work to an Indigenous and non-Indigenous audience is critical due to the intersubjective nature of Aboriginality. As McKenzie (1994, p179) outlines, since Aboriginality has arisen from and is continually shaped by the very nature of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal race relations ... The defining of Aboriginality... can play such a large part in the non-Aboriginal population’s perception of us and subsequently the degree of racism they practice towards us.
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In other words, representations of “Aboriginality” are both affected by and affect the attitude of non-Indigenous people towards Indigenous peoples. When Indigenous artists use photography, they are able to represent themselves the way they want to be represented and also violate the presumed prerogative of the Western surveyor to control the camera, one of the means by which non-Indigenous people have historically created knowledge about the “other” (Lutz and Collins, 2003, p367).
Widely recognised as the first professional Indigenous photographer, Mervyn Bishop (b. 1945) occupies a unique and crucial position in the history of Indigenous art in Australia. Indigenous photography in Australia is widely accepted as emerging in the 1980s, however, the work of Mervyn Bishop dates back to the early 1960s, more than twenty years prior. Mervyn Bishop’s most famous photographs are his iconic Prime Minister Gough Whitlam pours soil into the hands of traditional land owner Vincent Lingiari, Northern Territory, 1975 and Life and Death Dash, for which he won the News Photographer of the Year Award in 1971. Growing up in Brewarrina in northern New South Wales, Bishop’s initial interest in photography was sparked by his mother (who was forever taking pictures of him and his siblings) and also by a family friend and enthusiastic amateur photographer Vic King (Bishop, 1994, p79, Young, 2006, p18). From a young age, Bishop learnt how to make prints in a dark room and use a number of types of cameras, helped along the way by King, fellow amateur photographers and even the local Anglican priest from England, Brother Richard (Bishop, 1994, p79, Young, 2006, p18). After attending boarding school at Dubbo High, Bishop obtained work as a “general dogsbody” at the ABC in Sydney in 1962 through the NSW Aborigines Welfare Board (Bishop, 1994, p81). After a few months working at the ABC, Bishop was offered a photography cadetship by the Sydney Morning Herald.
With an impressive knowledge of photography, Bishop interviewed well and subsequently began a four-year cadetship, leading to his career as a press photographer at the Herald. Bishop describes his early experience of press photography at the Herald as learning at the “school of hard knocks” (NGA, 1998) where as he explains, “No one ever told me what makes a good press picture” (Bishop, 1994, p82). Instead, Bishop was simply expected “to bring back the goods” for the editor (Bishop, 1994, p82). At the Herald, Bishop recalls, “I had entered the assimilated world of the White institution. There were very few Aboriginal people in any profession and hardly any that I could share my experience with in Sydney. My Aboriginality was in different places, but there was no place for it at the Herald ...” (Bishop, 1994, p84). After many years at the Herald and the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, Bishop worked as a freelance photographer and taught photography at Tranby College in Sydney and the Eora Centre in Redfern. In 1991, Bishop had his first solo exhibition entitled In Dreams: Mervyn Bishop, Thirty Years of Photography 1960-1990 at the Australian Centre of Photography, Sydney, curated by fellow Indigenous photographer Tracey Moffatt. In recent years, Bishop has documented the consultation process, taking contemporary photographs of Indigenous Elders, families and communities involved with the State Records exhibition, “In Living Memory”. “In Living Memory” features a selection of black and white photographs taken from the records of the New South Wales Aborigines Welfare Board from 1919 to 1966. These historical photographs aimed to present and promote the work of the Aborigines Welfare Board and originate from all over New South Wales, locations such as far as the Brewarrina, Walgett and Moree community, Pilliga Mission, Wreck Bay Ration Store, Bomaderry Aboriginal Children’s Home, Cootamundra Aboriginal Girls’ Home and Kinchela Aboriginal Boys’ Home. Since 2008, the exhibition has been travelling across regional New South Wales, recently visiting Wagga Wagga, Cootamundra and Dubbo before its final stop in Broken Hill in late 2010. Earlier this year, Bishop also held a solo exhibition at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre entitled “Elders of Liverpool”. This exhibition featured twelve large-scale intimate portraits of prominent Indigenous Elders from the Liverpool area. Selected by the Hoxton Park Elder’s Group, the Miller Men’s Group, the Aboriginal community and the artist himself, each of the local identities photographed by Bishop has a long record of personal and professional achievements (Howard, 2010, p3). In putting together this series of works, Bishop highlighted the Elders’ significance in the local community while simultaneously depicting them with incredible warmth of feeling. In the following section I provide an in-depth analysis of three of Bishop’s portraits. 35
Cousins, Ralph and Jim, Brewarrina, 1966
Cousins, Ralph and Jim, Brewarrina, 1966 (above) is an image that exudes positivity and optimism. On his first holidays back while working for the Sydney Morning Herald, Bishop planned to do some work for his uncle and grandfather on their property. When Bishop’s cousins Ralph and Jim found out that Merv was back in town and going to the property, the boys were so keen to go that they wagged school to join him (Bishop, 2008). With the knowledge that the boys were skipping school there is the possibility that this photograph could be interpreted as representing rebelliousness or resistance. However, for Bishop, this is not really what the image is about. In Bishop’s words, it is simply about “having a nice time” (Bishop, 2008). In Cousins, Ralph and Jim, the boys faces provide the focal points of the photograph. Ralph’s gaze is focused directly at the lens of the camera, a gaze which travels out from the photograph, through time and space to engage the viewer. Regardless of the angle from which you observe the photograph, Ralph follows your eye, sharing his smile and radiating an aura of delight. While Ralph looks directly at the camera, Jim, shirt untucked, looks over to his right in a way that suggests a carefree, positive attitude with not a hint of self-consciousness. While the boys’ enjoyment is clearly evident in their smiles and laughter, further evidence of the positivity of this image comes from the way the light dazzles on the tops of the boys’ heads, on their sleeves and the back of their hands. The water in the river is crystal clear, holding reflections of the fence and the riparian vegetation. 36 GOfish3 Portraits Issue
Despite their rowing, there is no sense of this task being arduous or burdensome for Ralph and Jim. Instead, the presence of the two boys identified as cousins, and the implied company of Bishop as photographer communicates a strong feeling of familial warmth and vitality in what might otherwise be considered a picturesque and calm, yet also lonely and isolating setting. The vanishing point of the river in the distance is a significant feature of Cousins, Ralph and Jim as it shows movement, suggesting the boys have both come from somewhere and are going somewhere. As well as being read literally, this notion of “going somewhere” could be read metaphorically. If for example, we were to view this photograph in the context of Indigenous history we might note that in 1965 the Aboriginal Freedom Ride took place in country and northern NSW, successfully exposing and protesting against racial discrimination. A year after this photograph, a referendum would ensure Indigenous people were included in the census and the federal government given the power to legislate for Indigenous people. Following this, in 1968, the decision of the Arbitration Commission would come into effect whereby Aboriginal workers were to be paid equal award wages if working in industries covered by awards. This may be reading too much into the forward movement of the rowboat, but nevertheless gives us an insight into what was happening for Indigenous people in Australia around the time of the photograph.
Another powerful representation of Aboriginality is Bishop’s Rosilyn Watson, 1973 (right). In this portrait, we see the young ballet dancer Rosilyn Watson with shoulders back and toes pointed, resting against a park bench. All attention is directed to Watson by a background that is out of focus and the slats of wood on the bench which almost point to Watson’s outstretched left leg. Watson’s deliberate, graceful pose invites careful inspection from the viewer. As we observe Watson, our gaze is cleverly and involuntarily directed from her eyes to her smile, down past her leotard and left arm, along her left thigh, continuing in the direction of her left leg until we reach the toe of her ballet shoe. Once there, our gaze automatically retraces its path back up to Watson’s face, creating an almost endless viewing loop only briefly interrupted by a possible glance at the darker tone of the park bench or the partially obscured right leg. Together with this viewing loop, Watson’s elegant pose generates a mesmerising representation of grace and beauty, a far cry from images of both the aggressive weapon-wielding hunters or the haunting, frowning, half-naked women depicted in nineteenth century studio portraits. Another important feature of this photograph is the fact that Watson demonstrates an ability to take up a European cultural tradition, effectively challenging the myth of Indigenous people as uncultured or as static, living examples of prehistoric humans. Rather than simply symbolising assimilation, through her smile and pose, Watson gives the impression that ballet is not just something she can do, but something she enjoys and excels at. In addition, the outdoor park setting, while unusual for a ballet portrait, could be connotative of Indigenous connections to country. Furthermore, the very fact that Bishop has photographed Watson and the photograph was included in Bishop’s 1991 In Dreams exhibition also supports the idea that Watson is not just a nameless peculiarity but a figure of prominence and significance for her Indigenous community.
Rosilyn Watson, 1973
Since ballet is an age-old, classical tradition; a “high” art form characteristic of dignity and control where movements were historically designed to show off the aristocratic polish of the dancers, those who partake in and view the performance of ballet are subsequently often deemed as having good taste, possessing cultural capital, and thereby sitting high in the social order (Mackrell, 2005). By Watson partaking in ballet, she disrupts notions of Indigenous subjectation, of always being at the bottom of the hierarchy, with little or no power, dominated by the colonisers. Since ballet might be considered even too high-brow for some white Australians, this photograph could be considered unexpected and even unsettling for non-Indigenous viewers, while simultaneously empowering for Indigenous viewers. 37
Lionel Rose was only the second Australian to become a boxing world champion. After convincingly defeating Japan’s Masahiko Harada on February 27, 1968, Rose won the World Bantamweight Title and became a national hero. Mervyn Bishop’s Lionel Rose, World Bantamweight Boxer before departing to the USA to defend his title, 1968 is a doubly iconic image. In one sense it depicts the boxer Rose who became an icon for Indigenous peoples – both as a sporting champion and as an example of how Indigenous people were not intimidated by and could overcome racial prejudice and discrimination (Broome, 2001, p161). In another sense Bishop’s photo has become iconic of Rose because it was used on the jacket of a popular book written by Rod Humphreys about Rose’s life and achievements (Bishop, 2008). In this clean-cut, formal style photograph, Moffatt (1991, p5) observes how Rose “behaves for the camera, sitting “poised and perfect”. Bishop’s use of a low angle places Rose in a position of superiority and significantly, locates the viewer in a position of slight inferiority, just enough to invoke awe and admiration. By forcing the viewer to look up at Rose, Bishop creates a powerful representation of the champion boxer and perhaps also exemplifies how many Indigenous people looked up to Rose as a hero.
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In this photograph, Rose’s attire reflects the fashion of the time but also a civility or genteelness which is not typically associated with the sport of boxing. While Rose’s success at boxing could be hijacked by some to emphasise attributes of savagery, barbarism and primitiveness as typified by many nineteenth century photographs of Indigenous peoples, this depiction of Rose could not be further from that stereotype. Clean-shaven with his slick hairdo, white teeth, shirt and tie, jacket, cuff-links and pipe, Rose reflects a 1960s Westernised sensibility, radiating class, style and authority. Looking into the distance and smiling, Rose presents a non-threatening persona, which again is of greater significance due to his pursuit of boxing. Rose’s grip on his pipe, his pose, Bishop’s choice of angle and even the title of the work (World Bantamweight boxer ... departing... to defend his title) suggest an individual in control of their destiny.
Lionel Rose, World Bantamweight Boxer before departing to the USA to defend his title, 1968 39
The three photographs discussed are just a few selections of the work of Mervyn Bishop which extends from the 1960s right until the present, exhibiting an enormous diversity of Indigenous experience and a multitude of Aboriginalities. In photographing real people and real events, Bishop’s work takes on historical, political and social significance as well as artistic meaning. By in many cases naming individuals, Bishop gives his work personal meaning, going against the work of Western photographers in which non-Western subjects (often individuals) became representative of an entire race or culture, considered a typical Australian Aborigine or Trobriand youth for example (Wright, 2004, p173). Ana Maria Alonso (1988 cited in Gidley, 1992, p8) asserts that a people’s social memory is integral to the creation of their social meaning. Because of this, a people’s own representations of the past such as Bishop’s photography are central to the very constitution of social groups and to the maintenance of social, as well as individual, identities (Alonso, 1988 cited in Gidley, 1992, p8). By controlling the way Indigenous peoples are represented, Bishop’s work has contributed to the empowerment of Indigenous peoples. As McKenzie (1994, p184) argues, “Ultimately the empowerment of Aboriginal people will only take place when the level of intersubjectivity in dialogue has reached the point where Aboriginal people have control of the representation of their ‘Aboriginalities’.” In creating positive depictions of Indigenous identity in his photographs of Ralph and Jim, Lionel Rose and Rosilyn Watson, Bishop’s work not only represents reality, but in turn acts to constitute reality and history for Indigenous communities across Australia. In his depictions of Rose, Watson and the Liverpool Elders, Bishop bestows his subjects with a sense of agency, presenting them as powerful individuals who were not only aware that they were being represented, but also in control of how they were represented.
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Woman Folk- Yuedumu N. T. 1974
Bishop, Mervyn (1994) “Looking back on thirty years”, pp. 79-88 in Phillips, Sandra (ed.) Racism, Representation and Photography, Inner City Education Centre Cooperative, Sydney. Bishop, Mervyn (2008) Photography talk: “My favourite things”, given at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 6 August, 2008. Broome, Richard (2002) Aboriginal Australians: Black responses to white dominance 1788-2001, 3rd edition, Allen and Unwin, Crows Nest, NSW. Dewdney, Andrew (1994) “Racism, representation and photography”, pp. 1-40 in Phillips, Sandra (ed.) Racism, Representation and Photography, Inner City Education Centre Cooperative, Sydney. Gellatly, Kelly (2000) “Is there an Aboriginal photography?”, pp. 284292 in Kleinert, Sylvia and Neale, Margo (ed.s) Oxford Companion to Aboriginal art and culture, Oxford University Press, Melbourne. Gidley, Mick (ed.) (1992) Representing Others: White views of Indigenous peoples, University of Exeter Press, UK. Hollinsworth, David (1992) “Discourses on Aboriginality and the politics of identity in urban Australia”, Oceania, Vol. 63, No. 2, pp. 137-155. Howard, Paul (2010) Elders of Liverpool: Mervyn Bishop 6 February – 11 April, Exhibition Catalogue, Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, Liverpool City Council. Lutz, Catherine and Collins, Jane (1994) “The photograph as an intersection of gazes: The example of the National Geographic”, reproduced in pp. 354-374 of Wells, Liz (ed.) (2003) The Photography Reader, Routledge, London and New York. Mackrell, Judith R. (2005) “Dance”, article in Encyclopaedia Brittanica, 2005 Ultimate Reference Suite CD-ROM, Pappas, Theodore et al. (ed.s). McKenzie, Darlene (1994) “Looking at them looking at us”, pp. 179-184 in Phillips, Sandra (ed.) Racism, Representation and Photography, Inner City Education Centre Cooperative, Sydney.
Moffatt, Tracey (1991) In Dreams: Mervyn Bishop, thirty years of photography, 1960-1990, Australian Centre for Photography, Paddington, NSW. National Gallery of Australia (NGA) (1998) “Mervyn Bishop” “http://www.nga.gov.au/Retake/artists/00000001.htm”, accessed February 2008. Russell, Lynette (2001) Savage Imaginings: Historical and contemporary constructions of Australian Aboriginalities, Australian Scholarly Publishing, Melbourne. Wright, Terence (2004) The Photography Handbook, 2nd edition, Routledge, London and New York. Young, Nicola (2006) “Q&A Mervyn Bishop”, Vital Signs, Magazine 9, September 2006, State Records of NSW, “In Living Memory”, special exhibition issue, pp. 18-20
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Jorge Rodriguez Gerada is a Cuban American contemporary artist who believes that â€œ...our identity should come from within not from the brands that we wear. We should question who chooses our cultural icons and role models, our values and aesthetics. We are living in a time were corporate manipulation has become very refined and effective.â€? He creates photorealistic portrait murals of anonymous residents in cities around the world in order to counter the effects of the hyper reality that is created by the marketing and advertising industries.
INSPIRATION My empathy towards humanity is what inspires me to create work that questions how we are being affected by the marketing and advertising industries. These industries sell values and concepts of success, worth, love, sexuality, popularity and normalcy. They show a world in which people are rarely poor, unattractive, overweight, living with difficulty or disabled. They create a hyper reality where happiness and success become external goals to be obtained through consumption. I believe that our identity should come from within and not from the brands that we wear. We should question who chooses our cultural icons and role models, our values and aesthetics. My goal for this series is to have identity, place and memory become one. I create laborious photorealistic murals of anonymous people with charcoal that will slowly vanish in order to give homage to memory and legacy. The amount of work that I do causes an impact on the residents who suddenly have an icon that confirms the importance of their existence while at the same time causes a jarring effect because society has become unaccustomed to think that it is worth doing a laborious task unless there is direct economic compensation. The Identity Series honours the potential hero we all have within us.
When I started to conceptualise this project eight years ago I considered different material choices, including photography, spray-paint, projection and robotics. But ultimately I came to the conclusion that the only material that would give me the visual poetry that I was searching for was charcoal due to its humble, ephemeral and accessible qualities. Charcoal has a minimal negative impact on the environment; it involves the surface due to its transparency and fades away allowing focusing on the metaphors generated by the piece. I began to create very large charcoal portraits. Investing time and money while being a father of three is both a risk and a challenge. Permissions were difficult in the beginning and I received police harassment until the artwork became known and art institutions started inviting me to do interventions. As the process became more resolved I continued to bring up the scale and the difficulty. I soon realized that these pieces also have a powerful performance aspect: while doing the piece I invest time in direct dialogue with the community. I am often offered to create advertising for major brands using my charcoal intervention style but I always refuse because it is much more important to be coherent with my work. Even if it has been an economic challenge to say no, it was never a moral challenge. In regards to the dissemination of the artwork: its spectacular aspect and the impact on the media have allowed the project to become well known on its own. 50 GOfish3 Portraits Issue
MAKING A DIFFERENCE First thing I notice when I get up on a lift to start a new intervention is that people from the neighbourhood approach me asking me what kind of billboard Iâ€™m putting up. When they realize that there is no product being sold their first reaction is confusion. Then they start wondering about my motivations and later they become involved in the process of the piece: they pass by daily to check it out, they take and share their photographs, they feel proud of having a piece of artwork that they can see from their own balconies. The most interesting thing that happens as a result of my artwork is that neighbours talk. They get to know each other. Suddenly there is something that belongs to all of them. They can relate to the piece because it is one of them. They can discuss important aspects of life because art has generated the dialogue. Jorge has created his inspirational works in Barcelona, Granada, Madrid, Buenos Aires and London to name a few. To find out more about our feature artist visit: www.artjammer.com
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A couple of months ago, my wife Annette and I had the privilege of meeting some people that live in caves. Yes, caves. They are about one hour north of the Sydney GOfish3. CBD in an area thatFirst mostpublished people associate in November 2010 by with holidays and relaxation. Advision ABN 65066093023 by Chambers One of the people Printed we met goes by the and Whyte Wagga Wagga name “Westy”. He made it clear that he wasn’t one of the cave people, he was ISSN 1836-3636 more civilised than that, he lives on a GOfish may not be reproduced in whole or boat. Well, not what I’d call a boat, more part without written permission of the publishers. like a tinny. In fact he has been living in his tinny on the river for the Magazine last 12 years. GOfish He had an interesting perspectiveStreet on his Wagga Wagga NSW 2650 Australia 4 Gurwood situation, he didn’t+61 like being referred 2 6921 8025to as homeless, he preferred email: “houseless”. email@example.com He wasn’t that interested in the web: www.gofish.org.au food we had brought to share but artwork by Jorge Rodriguez Gerada was happy to haveCover one of the waterproof swags we ArthadDirector and Editor to give away. “Sleeping Michael Agzarian dry would make a nice Graphic Designer and Assistant Editor change”. Missy Dempsey Westy let me do a portrait of him as he reckoned I should have something to remember him by. I don’t think he realises, we’ll never forget him. Martin Taylor 66 GOfish3 Portraits Issue
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Published on Dec 6, 2010