Stills Gallery

MARK KIMBER

Side Show Valley

Exhibition 20 August to 20 September 2014
Opening Wednesday 20 August 2014 6-8pm
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“The photograph has always lied outrageously, but it is such a beautifully eloquent lie. Though caught in the twilight of peripheral vision this is a world as real as any dream, as concrete as any memory, and as fluid as any certainty”.

Mark Kimber

Mark Kimber never fails to intrigue and delight with his fantastical dioramas. After The Pale Mirror (Stills Gallery, 2012) he returns with Side Show Valley, another richly referential series about the haunting power of photography. We look at these images with a sense that we have seen them before yet their familiarity is slippery. Kimber is an academic when it comes to the history of photography. This is not surprising in a long- term educator. Kimber has been Head of Photography at the South Australian School of Art, Uni of SA since 1989 and has an MA Fine Art Degree (Combined Media) from Chelsea College of Art & Design, The London Institute in the UK (2000).

Kimber appeals to the photographic memory by constructing images on miniature stages using doll figurines that are then altered and overlaid with photographs and the artist’s vision. Some images are identifiable as appropriations, for example A Walk in the Park is clearly drawn from Arbus’ well-known Boy With a Toy Grenade. The twins in Forever are from Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. He of course was referencing his love of Diane Arbus’ Identical Twins. Several images refer to spirit photography, and in fact all the images are ghostlike in their blurred and painterly rendition. He is drawing on the cinematic as well as photography to enliven his narratives and make them more engaging. As in many of his series Kimber is the ‘boy in a toyshop’ constructing worlds for his own amusement.

It would be difficult to identify all the references in this richly layered exhibition. It is enough to understand the mind and hand at play in the series and to recognise the amount of enjoyment Kimber is having with his own deep knowledge of the medium and his palpable belief in the importance of the imagination.

Kimber was born and lives in Adelaide. His work has exhibited within Australia and internationally since the early 1980s. In 2012 he was awarded the South Australian Living Artists Monograph, which resulted in the publication Mark Kimber (Wakefield Press, 2012). His work is held in various public and private collections, including the NGA, AGSA, AGWA, Artbank Collection, and the Queensland Centre for Photography.

Mark Kimber

© Mark Kimber

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Megan Jenkinson

© Megan Jenkinson

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MEGAN JENKINSON

Transfigurations

Exhibition 20 August to 20 September 2014
Opening Wednesday 20 August 2014 6-8pm

Do you remember how wondrous those magic postcards used to be? That simple pleasure of tilting them backwards and forwards to see an image transform in your hands? Celebrated New Zealand photographer Megan Jenkinson is well known for working at the cutting edge of that same ‘lenticular’ technology. In the past she has reanimated the atmospheric anomalies of glacial islands, desert oases, and the illuminated nights skies of Aurora Australis. Now, in a selection of recently created works, Jenkinson takes us to the other end of the technological spectrum—presenting meticulously hand-folded photographic concertinas, which return us to that seemingly simple illusion. But like its viewers, this illusion has grown in scale and sophistication.

Jenkinson’s panoramic photographic collages—turned three-dimensional objects—are strikingly seductive, but not in an obvious sense. The natural beauty of fruit and flora, trees and sparkling water, is transformed by the zig-zagged concertina surfaces into stripey semi-abstraction. Each concertina comprises two distinct images, which only appear uninterrupted when viewed from either side. An effect, like flipping a ‘moving’ postcard, which keeps you walking back and forth. Previously, Jenkinson used this movement to make environmental illusions appear and disappear as they might have done for the explorers of exotic lands. In contrast, her new works create a more immediate sense of discovery—immediate because the illusion is so explicitly revealed, and because the transformations they capture take place much closer to home.

windfall, for instance, animates the seasonal change of a Persimmon tree. Yet, rather than moving from past to future, its ripe and richly coloured orange fruits shift back and forth in time; between their swelling days of glory and the autumnal moment of fall. In water-into-æther, Jenkinson looks to the transformative possibilities of a camera’s focus. As a humble fountain shoots into the sky, its drops of water resemble a sprinkling of crisp snowflakes, while from the opposite direction they expand into orb-like crystals, hovering midair. There is a gentle irony in the way Jenkinson animates these tiny but significant shifts; the quiet magic of the natural world. After all, it is only when we pass them by that her concertinas reveal to us what might so often pass us by.

Jenkinson has long explored the artistic possibilities of sophisticated digital intervention, and the panoramic images comprising these concertinas are no exception. Nevertheless, there is something comforting about the folded physicality of her ‘simple’ constructions; the sculptural splicings seem to offer respite from the intangible nature of digital manipulation. This does more than create a sense of nostalgia, whether for the magic of ‘moving’ postcards, or for another illusion—pre-digital ‘authenticity’. It makes explicit and uncomplicated the complexity of the natural world, and the temporal, spatial and conceptual mediations of that world, when transfigured through the lens of photography.

Megan Jenkinson has exhibited extensively since the 1980s, including in seminal shows, such as Photography Now, Victoria & Albert Museum, London (1989), the Sydney Biennale (1990), and the Sharjah Biennale (1999). She has been the recipient of numerous grants and awards. Her work is held in the AGNSW, NGA, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Auckland Art Gallery, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, and The Victoria & Albert Museum, London. Jenkinson is an Associate Professor of Fine Arts at the University of Auckland.