Thursday, February 8, 2024

VIEW 2024

Photography Exhibition Review | Brian Rope

VIEW 2024 | Caleb Arcifa, Juncture Collective, Rose Hartley, Brittany Hefren, Emma Phillips, George Pople

Photo Access | 25 January - 9 March 2024

PhotoAccess has launched its 2024 Exhibition Program with VIEW2024, its annual showcase of emerging photo-media artists from the ACT and surrounding regions.

Caleb Arcifa shows us one work comprising silver gelatin photos and a mixed media installation. It’s interactive – touch it to create your auditory identity.

Brittany Hefren displays three delightful collages with holes cut in front prints revealing something of childhood’s imagined memories. In one work, wisteria not only creeps over a suburban front fence but spills out of a window on the house behind that fence.

Emma Phillips explores Artificial Intelligence. AI has created quite a storm with many people expressing diverse concerns whilst others see great benefits. There has been considerable discussion of it in the context of photography, with some groups banning it and others embracing it. Many photographers use it, perhaps even unwittingly, whilst post-processing their images with various software packages.

From Phillips we see what happened when the prompt “what is gender” in various languages was put into an image generator. The results perpetuated binary gender roles and the belief that heterosexual is the only normal and natural sexual orientation. And also affirmed the view that representing someone or something in an idealised way or through cultural stereotypes is appropriate. 

Emma Phillips, from Generative Genders, 2024

Rose Hartley shows us five works from Frames, an evolving series. She is looking to reveal the connections between people and the environments and settings in which they exist. These images are all interesting. I was particularly drawn to A Palestinian Wedding which shows a mirror reflection of a woman wearing a headpiece, close by a hairpiece that, presumably, she might wear to the wedding.

Rose Hartley, A Palestinian Wedding, 2018

Photo Access Director Alex Robinson’s catalogue essay tells us “The Juncture Collective brings together the work of several artists working with emerging technology to consider its social, political and economic impacts critically.”  The artists are Sophie Dumaresq, Rory Gillen and Emily April O’Neill. Dumaresq is probably the most well-known not just to Canberra audiences but, through her success – for example, as winner of the 2022 Mullins Conceptual Photography Prize – to a wider audience. She is displaying three artworks – one a digital print & mixed media. Another a digital video. The third an installation comprising a digital video, an expanse of fluffy pink carpet (also on the floor in her digital print), cow pillows and a beanbag.

O’Neill contributes an interactive installation with several parts. Gillen gives us a digital video. Both these artworks also have that fluffy pink on the floor below. Juncture’s works use emerging technologies – AI, DALL-E and ChatGPT - to critically consider their impacts. Whatever else you make of the Juncture artworks you will certainly find them absorbing - and yourself smiling.

Sophie Dumaresq (Juncture Collective), What's In A Postcard? Baby
I just wanted to make you smile, 2023

George People is responding to the dark aspects of this country’s military activities in Afghanistan, in particular the Ben Roberts Smith defamation trial. The artist set up his own “memorial” at the top of Anzac Parade in Canberra. His installation here includes the created video work, a tower of laptops (fortunately not burning as Roberts Smith was found guilty of doing), and one working laptop looping through pages from the 2020 Brereton Report which shed light on concealed war crimes. This is a powerful artwork, challenging viewers to think about the dominant military account.

George Pople, Additional Content, 2023

So, this exhibition emphasises photography's role in mirroring societal phenomena, with the artists delving into various contemporary issues. Analogue and digital photography, alternative processes, videos and installations - VIEW2024 provides a fascinating look at current trends.

This review is also available on the author's blog here.