Photography 130: Behind the Lens – 130 years of photography at RMIT

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Join us at RMIT Gallery on Thursday 9 March, 6-8 pm to celebrate the opening of  Photography 130: Behind the Lens – 130 years of photography at RMIT. 

The exhibition celebrates RMIT’s long and rich history of providing photography education, which is as old as the institution itself.

Photography 130 – Behind the lens: 130 years of RMIT photography (10 March – 13 April) brings together a collection of over 100 images from 59 photographers, revealing the significant contribution made by RMIT University’s (RMIT) photography programs to the culture and society of Melbourne.

When RMIT first began operations as the Working Men’s College in 1887, photography was one of the foundation disciplines, making it the oldest existing photography course in the world.

Sourced from RMIT archives, The National Gallery of Victoria, Monash Gallery of Art, the State Library of Victoria, private collections, photographers and artists, the exhibition features work created by RMIT staff and alumni between 1887 and 2017, in the service of art, politics, news, entertainment, commerce, science and discovery.

Much has changed in photography over the past 130 years, not least the technology. But the skills involved in composition, in challenging the limits of the camera or in capturing that special moment are as valuable today as they were 130 years ago.

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Harry Nankin, The Burning Bush, 1991, Dye transfer fibre paper print. 470 x 560 mm. Image courtesy of the artist.

Join us for the free public programs which offer a ‘behind the lens’ view of the exhibition. Bookings required.

Photography 130 public programs

Photography 130 – Behind the Lens: curator’s talk

Friday 10 March 1:00-2:00 pm
Photography 130 curator Shane Hulbert, Associate Professor and Deputy Head of School, Higher Education, School of Art, RMIT University, offers an expanded view of the role and contribution of RMIT University to the photographic imaging of Melbourne and Australia.

130 years of Photography at RMIT

Thursday 16 March 5:30 – 6.30 pm
Panel with Shane Hulbert (chair), and photographers Pauline Anastasiou, John Billan Gale Spring, and Alex Syndikas.

Photography Predictions & Premonitions

Thursday 23 March 1:00 – 2:00 pm
Panel with Shane Hulbert (chair), and photographers Bronek Kozka, Kate Robertson, and Murray McKeich.

Guided tours of Photography 130 exhibition

Suitable for school and university groups, VCE Studio Arts, and special interest groups.

Photography & particle accelerators: Harry Nankin & Chris Henschke at RMIT Gallery

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Harry Nankin installing his work Syzgy at RMIT Gallery as part of the exhibition Morbis Artis: Diseases of the Arts (until 18 February 2017)

In the final of our public programs for the exhibition Morbis Artis: Diseases of the Arts at RMIT Gallery (17 November – 18 February 2016) join us at RMIT Gallery on Tuesday 13 December from 12.30-1.30 pm when photographer Harry Nankin and artist Chris Henschke talk about their work.

In Harry Nankin’s work (pictured above) nine, multi-panel palimpsests are displayed on light boxes, and lake Tyrell in the semi-arid Mallee region of Victoria becomes semi-arid land as the impact of the contemporary ecological crisis finds its root and branch in starlight and shadowgram as live invertebrates mourn the age of the anthropocene.

The work ‘photo-poetically’ memorializes this erasure, resurrecting the dry lakebed into a focal plane upon which primal starlight is used to imprint photographic films on moonless nights. The environmental disease at the heart of this work is human-made: as we lay waste to our planet, the stars are slowly going out.

The prepared images include rare astronomical glass plate negatives from the telescopes at Mount Palomar (USA) and Siding Spring (Australia) and camera-less photographs of live native anthropods gathered from the lake’s shore.

Harry Nankin’s work honours the lost sacrament and acts as a metaphor for our global ecological predicament.

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About Harry Nankin: Harry Nankin is an Australian photo media artist and educator. In 1993 Nankin put aside the camera altogether and he has been creating ‘photograms’ (and occasionally ‘chemograms’) in the studio and on location in forest, desert, atop mountains and under the sea.

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Chris Henschke with his work Song of the Phenomena, opening night, Morbis Artis: Diseases of the Arts at RMIT Gallery. Photo by Vicki Jones.

Chris Henschke’s work explores anti-matter as we bare witness to how radiation is released by organic matter. Using an actual particle accelerator, the work shows how the humble banana emits antimatter on a regular basis. In an age where we fear the way antimatter impacts upon the nature of everyday life and the workings of the cosmos, we see how the organic itself brings potential dissolution to the human world.

About Chris Henschke

Chris Henschke is an artist and researcher who works with digital and analogue media and high-energy physics. He has exhibited around Australia and internationally, and has undertaken art residencies at the Australian Synchrotron, supported by an Arts Victoria Arts Innovation grant (2008), and the Australia Council for the Arts Synapse program (2010). He has developed and lectured courses in time based and interactive media at RMIT University, Monash University, and the ‘Art vs Science’ seminar series at the University of Melbourne Victorian College of the Arts. Currently, he is undertaking a Doctorate of Philosophy at Monash University, which includes on-site work at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), Switzerland, as part of the ‘art@CMS’ collaboration.

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What: Hanny Nankin and Chris Henschke artist talk

When: Tuesday 13 December 12.30-1.30 pm

Where: RMIT Gallery 344 Swanston Street, Melbourne

Free: register for tickets

Touch me: Alison Bennett speaks about ‘expanded photography’ on 6 December 1-2 pm

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Bruise, 2015, by Alison Bennett. Morbis Artis: Diseases of the Arts Installation image by Mark Ashkanasy, RMIT Gallery, 2016.

Artist Alison Bennett works in ‘expanded photography’ where the boundaries of photography have shifted in the transition to digital media and become diffused into ubiquitous computing.

Her work has generated international viral media attention more than once and features in the current RMIT Gallery exhibition Morbis Artis: Diseases of the Arts at RMIT Gallery (17 November – 18 February 2016)an interactive bio-art exhibition that uses actual and metaphoric communicative diseases to explore the fractured relationship between human and non-human life.

Alison Bennett will be speaking about her work and ‘expanded photography’ at RMIT Gallery on Tuesday 6 December from 1-2 pm.

Her interactive piece Bruise is a touch-based screen work that presents the viewer with a high-resolution scan of bruised skin. Invited to touch the soft and damaged tissue before them, their eyes become organs of touch, and their fingers work as sensory digits that feel as they move over what becomes a damaged but delicate bio-art surface.

Bennett’s recent projects explored the creative potentials of augmented reality, stereophotogrammetry, 3D scanning, and virtual reality as encompassed by the medium and practice of photography.

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Artist Alison Bennett with her interactive work Bruise at RMIT Gallery.

As a neuroqueer trans-media artist, Bennett’s work has explored the performance and technology of gender identity and considered the convergence of biological and digital skin as virtual prosthesis.

What: Alison Bennett artist talk on ‘expanded photography’

When: Tuesday 6 December, 1-2 pm

Where: RMIT Gallery, 344 Swanston Street, Melbourne.

Bookings: register

Artist talk: Jodi Sita: the creative relationship between art and science practice

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Seeing the future: Jodi Sita’s image of her own eye revealed the early stages of glaucoma, a largely an invisible eye disease.

Jodi Sita is an academic and researcher in the areas of neuroscience and anatomy, and with a leading interest in the creative relationship between art and science practice.

She will be speaking about her work in Morbis Artis: Diseases of the Arts at RMIT Gallery, along with Alison Bennett on Tuesday 6 December 1-2 pm at RMIT Gallery.

Jodi’s fascination for understanding how anatomical systems work and her strong visual tendencies have seen her research, teach and create artwork around the ecology of the human body.

“The Macular collection shows one normal and four degenerated eyeballs allowing us to glimpse the heinous beauty of this pathological and debilitating condition,” Jodi said.

“The Retina collection allows a look into the dark spaces of the eye…and My Eye are images of my own eye, showing a normal healthy eyeball structure – except for an image (pictured above) in which it was discovered I was in the early stages of glaucoma.

“In the Pupils collection (below), the colours and palates of the iris have been enhanced to create images that evoke landscapes, lightning strikes, planets and flowers – all scenes we scan with our irises. Hidden only to vision scientists and specialists, are the amazing landscapes found at the back of the eyeball; the retina, the macular and the fovea.”

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Jodi Sita with her work in Morbis Artis: the colours and palates of the iris have been enhanced to create images that evoke landscapes, lightning strikes, planets and flowers.

Jodi Sita is currently editing an anthology on Eye Tracking The Moving Image with Bloomsbury Press.

What: Jodi Sita artist talk on the creative relationship between art and science practice

When: Tuesday 6 December, 1-2 pm

Where: RMIT Gallery, 344 Swanston Street, Melbourne.

Bookings: register

Contemporary Australian Video Art – Curator floor talk

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Anne O’Hehir, Curator of Photography, National Gallery of Australia with works from the NGA touring exhibition Light moves: Contemporary Australian Video Art, at RMIT Gallery.

What’s behind the re-emergence and success of video in contemporary art in Australia over the last fifteen years?

The exhibition Light moves: Contemporary Australian Video Art  at RMIT Gallery (1 July – 20 August) features work made between 2009 and 2014 by some of Australia’s most internationally significant video artists; Daniel Crooks, Hayden Fowler, Shaun Gladwell, Gabriella and Silvana Mangano, David Rosetzky, Julie Rrap and Christian Thompson.

Join us at RMIT Gallery on Friday 1 July from 1-2 pm when curator Anne O’Hehir will talk about the history of video and the important holdings of early video art held by the National Gallery of Australia.

“There is no doubt that the medium has enormous relevance and appeal for contemporary audiences. Certainly the works in Light moves engage with areas of concern for many, around notions of identity or our relationship with nature, for example,” said O’Hehir.

Many of the works in Light moves have a quiet, meditative feel with individuals in some way retreating from the world, and O’Hehir will also look at this aspect of the exhibition, which is on tour from the National Gallery of Australia, and reflect on why this might be.

What: Curator floor talk – Light moves: Contemporary Australian Video Art

When: Friday 1 July 2016

Time: 1-2 pm

With: Anne O’Hehir, Curator of Photography, National Gallery of Australia.

Bookings: Free – please book here

Venue: RMIT Gallery

Location: 344 Swanston Street Melbourne

More information: RMIT Gallery (03) 9925 1717

 

 

Inspired by India – two new exhibitions to open at RMIT Gallery

Photographer Terry Burrows will be giving an artist talk on Friday 20 March 2015, 12.30-1.30 pm at RMIT Gallery.

Photographer Terry Burrows will be giving an artist talk on Friday 20 March, 12.30-1.30 pm at RMIT Gallery.

RMIT Gallery throws open its doors to the public with two new exhibitions inspired by India with the official opening on Thursday 26 march from 6-8 pm. The exhibitions – Backs of Banaras and Unfolding: New Indian Textiles will run until 30 May, and be officially opened from 6-8 pm on Thursday 26 March with an address by Ms Manika Jain, Acting High Commissioner of India.

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Backs of Banaras

Banaras is known as the city of Shiva, one of India’s most revered sites of Hindu ritual. In this exhibition, Sydney based photographer Terry Burrows captures the cultural wealth and contradiction that is contemporary India. Selected from the complete series of 1008 photographs (an auspicious number for Hindus) that feature in his The Banaras Back Book, this parade of backs, mostly male and strangely impersonal, conveys much of the cultural wealth and contradiction that is contemporary India.

The subjects are draped in their personal cloth and form a visual essay in the textiles of the everyday. These photographs were taken during a five-month residency that Burrows completed in Varanasi in 2010/11. The contrast of traditional religious ritual amidst contemporary street life is intriguing and Burrows argues it is portrayed particularly prominently with Hinduism.

Terry Burrows will be giving a talk about his photographic practice and on photographing in India on Friday 20 March from 12.30-1.30 pm. Bookings RMIT Gallery (03) 9925 1717.

Who should be photographed – how and why? Terry will explore the politics of photographing a subject ‘by stealth’. Should an artist get permission – or not? Is photographing someone’s back the same as their face? Is it different in a country like India – especially if you are a Western photographer? A fascinating insight into a complex issue about rights and responsibilities of an artist to coincide with his exhibition.

Unfolding: New Indian Textiles

Image courtesy of Play Clan

Image courtesy of Play Clan

Indian textile designers are the envy of the rest of the world because they continue to have close, easy contact with all manner of hand production and crafts no longer available elsewhere.

This vibrant new exhibition places contemporary Indian textile designers and artists within the wider context of international art and fashion and examines the reinvention of traditional textiles through the sari, uncut cloth, street wear as well as textiles and fibre as contemporary art.

Unfolding: New Indian Textiles has been developed by independent curator, public art coordinator and artist Maggie Baxter to coincide with her new book on contemporary Indian textiles. Ms Baxter has travelled to India for more than two decades, where she has worked with traditional crafts in the Kutch region of North West India since 1990. The Indian village remains a constant presence in textile production terms of tradition and subject matter, drawing extensively on the daily life and popular culture of villages and marketplaces.

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Remembering Gough Whitlam: unpublished photos from the archives

Mr Gough Whitlam, 14th World Gliding Championships at Waikerie, South Australia, 1974. Image copyright Suzanne Davies.

Mr Gough Whitlam, 14th World Gliding Championships at Waikerie, South Australia, 1974. Image copyright Suzanne Davies.

RMIT Gallery Director Suzanne Davies, a gliding enthusiast, was helping crew and taking media photos at the 14th World Gliding Championships 1974 when she captured these photos of Mr Gough Whitlam getting into the action on the day.

Gliding enthusiasts world-wide rave about the Waikerie thermals and the rural South Australian town was the venue for the event.

Mr Gough Whitlam, 14th World Gliding Championships at Waikerie, South Australia, 1974. Image copyright Suzanne Davies.

Mr Gough Whitlam, 14th World Gliding Championships at Waikerie, South Australia, 1974. Image copyright Suzanne Davies.

This week, Sydney’s Town Hall overflowed with people wanting to be a part of the memorial service for Mr Gough Whitlam, Australia’s 21st prime minister, who died at the age of 98 on October 21.

Ms Davies said that the former prime minister’s support for the arts assisted many visual artists, writers, musicians and performers who received grants through the Australia Council.

Mr Gough Whitlam, 14th World Gliding Championships at Waikerie, South Australia, 1974. Image copyright Suzanne Davies.

Mr Gough Whitlam, 14th World Gliding Championships at Waikerie, South Australia, 1974. Image copyright Suzanne Davies.

Ms Davies said that Mr Whitlam appeared intrigued by the aircraft and of course knowledgable about flying as he had joined the RAAF in World War II, becoming a flight lieutenant and bomber navigator. When the war ended he joined the Labor Party and completed a law degree at Sydney University. 

Mr Gough Whitlam, 14th World Gliding Championships at Waikerie, South Australia, 1974. Image copyright Suzanne Davies.

Mr Gough Whitlam, 14th World Gliding Championships at Waikerie, South Australia, 1974. Image copyright Suzanne Davies.

“Those arms in some of the shots are the security contingent – he was after all prime minister at the time, and there were good reasons for not letting him up in the air. In fact, security was very tight – I was the only photographer allowed near Gough Whitlam and the glider.”

According to blogger and flyer Marta Najfeld, most of the competitors from back then are still doing well and flying comps!