Collaborations

Six Queensland women photographers
Imagery Gallery, Brisbane
1 November - 14 November, 1988

Although shown under the banner of "Collaborations", the diversity of styles and treatments in this exhibition surely eliminates any hint of artistic compromise between the photographers. Maybe the collaboration goes no further than an agreement for simultaneous use of the gallery resources free of any male meddling.

Fiora Sacco's work dispenses with frames and intervening glass to invite minuscule inspection. Nothing is seen at a glance: white gloves, bicycle wheels, tilted profiles, breasts, graphically lit figures, black borders, white borders, improbable film perforations comment wryly on photographic cliches without being cliched. A nude male torso is seen against a grainy background but the grain turns out to be synthetic;

carefully manufactured and placed. What looks like a contact sheet, the symbol of artifice-free photography, turns out to be a plethora of visual tricks: dotted outlines, blanked backgrounds, and contour mapped tones. These pictures offer no answers, instead a high degree of visual literacy is demanded in order to play an enchanting game for both eye and mind.

Ruby Spowart's rich colours and super wide, multiimage frameless picture features two panoramas. One is an unspoiled rainforest, the other, placed closely parallel, is a similar forest now transected by a bitumen road, blurred cars, boardwalk, cafe and assorted passers by. The picture's message is clear but there is some salvation in the sheer scale and beauty of the picture and the numerous visual puns which exploit the multi-image process.

Noella Cerutti relates the forces of calm and tension in the Australian Aboriginal milieu. A solitary didgeridoo player, a black smile and a smiling white child contend against pictures of mass demonstration and black assertiveness. Her narrow prints hemmed in by broad white borders echo white society's claus trophobic pressure on black civilization. Dark figures and faces are crowded together but they seethe with energy and power. One print featuring children, dark skinned with white paint is a stunning exercise in balance and design while reinforcing the style and dignity of a people sympathetically photographed.

Jant Marles "Celebration" series are large, joyful prints almost bursting from ample frames with energy, fun writ large, and ebullient good times. So much of modern photography appears deadly serious that it is refreshing to see life recorded with perception and good humour but without mocking the participants.

Beverley Lacey's portraits for this exhibition exemplify photography's unique capacity to connect the subject, the environment and the ambient light in a coherent artistic statement. Formal rules of composition can be found here by those who would seek them but the total effectiveness of the pictures evoke more subtle means. Faces glow out of shaded interiors, doorways, frame a figure in a saintly nimbus, window light falls softly across open shadows, viewpoints are high, low, close, far - as appropriate.

Narelle Kremmer shows pictures that are linked to the Winton to Longreach Endurance Race, but they do not need to show the race itself. Her camera finds beautiful images of people associated with the event. Lean, R.M. Williams (himself), Bob Black, Barbara Timms, Joanne Preston, and Willie Marr shine confidently and co-operatively for her in the sizzling sunlight and luminous shade of Long reach.

Throughout the various styles and treatments in this exhibition there is no discernible gender basis, no distinctly feminine element. Equally obvious is the conclusion that artistically sophisticated, technically competent brains do not reside in male heads alone.