Words by Nick Tapscott
Photos by J Forsyth
Before I begin I would just like to disclaim a few things. Firstly, I’m not an artist. I have no formal training in anything visual. Second, I like to drink. Before I went up to the show I had one on an empty stomach then a few cheap wines and the air-con isn’t so great on the third floor so I started feeling a bit of the queeze, if you know what I mean. And thricely, I’m not a homophobe, but a penis wearing Aussie flag sunnies made me giggle. I hope no-one saw.
So to summarise, this article is the opinion of a half-cut non-artist who laughs at penises. Just bear that in mind.
I liked the photos. I really did. The show was an attempt to ‘deliver truth through portraiture as interpreted by six Australian photographers.’ And yeah. Overall, not bad.
I definitely liked the candour of ‘Karl’, featuring a subject stretched back and looking at the lens through one eye as though half surprised, and half shy. Another image laden with irony stood out as a Clark Kent mask obscured the subjects face from the view. Both photos were by James Wineray.
Another piece that was impossible to miss was the giant wall size mid-shot portrait of a girl making prayer hands, staring down the lens. The image dominated the space, taking up the entire wall. In my humble opinion it was the best use of placement in the show.
And finally, the candour through danger of the topless girl riding the back of a Melbourne Metro train: both brave and dangerous. It was a moment of this girl’s life and vision of a part of herself that can only be seen when her life is in danger, and so very truthful and very honest.
I’m not sure I got ‘Australian Masculinity’. A penis with glasses next to a guy with the same glasses? Who’s an Aussie? Are Aussie men penises, and nothing more? Both shots were highly orchestrated studio portraits and therefor their ‘truth’ was solely the opinion of the photographer. Does he mean that as an Australian male, I’m a penis? I guess that’s partly true, as part of me definitely is a penis, but really only a small percentage of the total.
So yeah, overall pretty good. Also, it was a good turnout and I really like Dear Patti Smith as a space, it has a nice outdoor part and the toilets are really clean.