Chromogenic 2012 – Media House Gallery

Words – Nick Tapscott

Photos – J Forsyth

Chromogenic 2012, Media House Gallery, The Age Building, 655 Collins Street, Docklands

So I was having a chat with a young lady who made me blush. “You should put dick jokes in your review. Just find a way to slip it in gently.” “…But don’t be too obvious, don’t just cram it in. No one likes it when it’s forced in there, it’ll just feel awkward.” Prudent advice, but goodness me! I’m far too delicate for this kind of ribald discourse. The C-Type photograph is the focus of Chromogenic 2012, a show curated by Phillip Virgo of The Colour Factory fame. It features works by 17 talented individuals of varying experience and repute, all tied by their mutual exercise of a medium which is now over 120 years old.
The photos are arrayed along the walls of the Age building’s Media House Gallery, a long, tall and shiny hall of cement and glass that took me back to visions of the 80’s and early 90’s. I half expected to see Gordon Gekko wandering the crowd talking into a brick with an antenna or Alan Rickman swing in with some blonde East-Germans and take out the security guards (there actually were security guards, I know because they eye-balled us).

It was refreshing to see such a large range of photographers on display at once, and the span of experience and time (some photos on display were taken in the 20th century) meant that no two pieces were the same or even similar. Some of the younger rock-stars were cushioned nicely by the older prestige, and I found myself driven from piece to piece at a comforting and casual pace. Never boring, never over-done. The subject matter and themes were as varied as the contributors and ranged from the portraiture of Jeremy Blincoe’s Two Dollars or Robert Imhoff’s Sydney Charles Bromley, Actor – the Royal Shakespeare Company to the more abstract and elusive content of Penelope Davis’s Column or Stelarc’s The Rock Suspension.
A piece which stood out for me personally was Kitchen Window, Morang Rd Hawthorn by Tim Handfield which featured a view of a modern and cemented yard obscured and unfocused by a pane of glass, visible only for its droplets of water suspended over the scene. It struck a personal chord with my love of nostalgia through place and the sheltered space inside the modernity in which the viewer is positioned by the view. We are inside, sheltered from the out. Just like the work the crowd was an eclectic mix of the young, the dignified and the dignified young. When we were there much of the food (there was plenty) and wine remained untouched, a reflection of the crowd not being literally hungry or there just for the free booze. Overall, a classy night for some of Melbourne’s heaviest hitters and rising stars, housed in one of the more echo-ey and prestigious buildings.