Contemporary photography in Sydney is rich in its variety of styles. The exhibition OTHERS presents the work of three artists whose preferred medium is photography. Vanila Netto, Alex Kershaw and Harold David’s work reflect the mundane and the strange in different yet overlapping ways. This is the first time that the work of any of these artists has been seen in a museum context.
Vanila Netto creates installations of small colour photographs of brightly coloured futurist environments. They are fragments of possible worlds culled from literature, popular culture, and childhood imaginary. The fragments of these ‘other’ worlds are familiar from cartoons and science fiction movies.
Alex Kershaw searches for functional objects in the environment and photographs them in series. Ostensibly documentary, Kershaw’s work concentrates on the presence of everyday – usually overlooked objects – and monumentalises them. His work Geodetic Monuments presents a set of 5 type C photographs of survey markings constructed by the NSW Department of Lands.
Harold David travels to small town Australia and the USA in order to document the lives of ordinary people. His subjects are presented within the formal tradition of American pre-war photo-documentary. Worthville is a series of 30 images shot in Kentucky where David’s sister and her children live. Worthville is a small town at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains that was a thriving stopover before the Amtrak bypassed it in the 1970s – now it is a kind of ghost town.
“The three artists in OTHERS are distinctly different from each other in their concerns yet their work depends on the simple magnetism of the photograph: the desire to faithfully document a reality and present that reality for consideration. Each disturbs the conventions of the photo-documentary by working in series around a specific subject. Their work depends variously on fragments, the disjunctive visual narrative of the filmic, or repetition in order to emphasise difference,” said Judy Annear, Senior Curator of Photography, Art Gallery of New South Wales.