New exhibition shines light on performance art
Some of photography’s best-known luminaries – including Cindy Sherman, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Bill Henson, Barber Kruger and Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook – are set to feature in a new Sydney exhibition examining the interaction between photography and performance.
The images in Photography and the Performative, on show at the Chau Chak Wing Museum, capture performers, performance spaces and audiences over an 80-year period.
The punk aesthetic of 1980s New York, Hollywood B-grade movies and generational discrimination faced by Aboriginal communities are among the diverse phenomena examined in this exhibition.
“Performance as a concept is everywhere,” said Chau Chak Wing curator Katrina Liberiou. “This exhibition conveys performative elements from the widest imaginable range of settings including streets, studios, villages, institutions and performance spaces.
Rather than record performances, works in Photography and the Performative look at the supporting roles of space, the human body and ideas in performance.
International works include disturbing images from the hospital where Milos Forman’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was filmed. Mary Ellen Mark spent 36 days living at the Oregon State Hospital to document the lives of women incarcerated there, a year after she worked as the Oscar-winning film’s set photographer.
Closer to home, Christo’s Packed public building, project for Sydney (1969) imagines wrapping Sydney’s Australia Square, then a new skyscraper designed by architect Harry Seidler. This work was a precursor to the artists’ epic Wrapped Coast, created with support from Harry and Penelope Seidler.
The photographs in Photography and the Performative range from vintage black and white prints to alternative processes (including solarisation and photograms) to early colour photography and digital prints. All featured works have been selected from the University of Sydney Art Collection.
Photography and the Perfomative is one of two photographic exhibitions currently on show at the Chau Chak Wing Museum. The second, The Staged Photograph presents a range of staged images taken in Australia between the mid-19th and early 20th centuries. Both are free.
What: Photography and the Performative
When: 29 April 2023 until April 2024
Where: Level 1, Chau Chak Wing Museum, University Place, Camperdown, NSW 2006
Opening hours: 9am-4pm Monday to Friday (until 9pm Thursdays), 12-4pm Saturday and Sunday. Closed public holidays. www.sydney.edu.au/museum