Minutes to Midnight book by Steidl

29 February to 24 March 2012

In 2003 Trent Parke set off on a road-trip around his native Australia, a monumental journey that was to last two years and cover a distance of over 90,000 km. Minutes to Midnight is the ambitious photographic record of that adventure, in which Parke presents a bold but uneasy nation struggling to craft its identity from different cultures and traditions. Originally exhibited at the Australian Centre for Photography in 2005 the work subsequently toured nationally and internationally.

To celebrate the upcoming publication of Minutes to Midnight by Steidl (along with Parke’s The Christmas Tree Bucket), Stills Gallery is proud to present a selection of some classic images from the Minutes to Midnight series as well as previously unseen work featured in the book. Steidl, one of the world’s most sophisticated and distinguished printing and publishing companies, has worked with some of the most renowned photographers and artists across the globe.

Minutes to Midnight merges traditional documentary techniques and imagination to create a dark visual narrative portraying Australia with a mix of nostalgia, romanticism and brooding realism. This is not a record of the physical landscape but of an emotional one. It is a story of human anxiety and intensity, which although told about Australia, represents a universal human condition in the world today.

For Parke the book is a medium in which he can convey the essence of his ideas and vision. He has said "I've never been interested in the single picture; the book is the work. Minutes to Midnight was always about my imagination, my place, and it's my personal document of my time... The same for The Christmas Tree Bucket. It is not a set of 60 photographs, it is a story-book, and the image sequence is important in building a story and a complete line of thought."

Parke’s earlier books, Dream/Life, The Seventh Wave (with Narelle Autio) and Bedknobs and Broomsticks (published in association with Alec Soth) have become highly collectable. A suite of 30 Minutes to Midnight works was acquired by the National Gallery of Australia. Parke’s works are also in the collections of AGNSW, Artbank, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney and the National Gallery of Victoria.

Art Month


© Trent Parke Harts Ranges, 2004 from Minutes to Midnight

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© Burt Glinn/Magnum Photos SPAIN. Sagaro 1959 (detail)

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29 February to 24 March 2012

Stills Gallery is delighted to present Magnum Contact Sheets, an exhibition featuring early and original contact sheets by Magnum photographers. Often compared to an artist’s sketchbook, the contact sheet, a direct print of a roll or sequence of negatives, is the photographer’s first look at what he or she captured on film, and provides a uniquely intimate glimpse into their working process. It gives a behind-the-scenes sense of walking alongside the photographer and seeing through their eyes.

The exhibition concept was inspired by the recent release of a landmark new book entitled Magnum Contact Sheets, which presents an unparalleled wealth of unpublished material, revealing the story behind many iconic and historical images of modern times taken by the world’s most celebrated photographers. The book shows their creative process and also acts, in the words of Martin Parr, as an ‘epitaph to the contact sheet’ as it marks the end of the analog era as we move to a digital generation.

The exhibition features over 30 intriguing contact sheets. As well as a variety of diverse contemporary photographers, such as the large format contact sheets of Alec Soth and Stuart Franklin, the medium format contact sheets by Mark Power and Chien-Chi Chang and, of course, work by Stills Gallery artist (the only Australian member of Magnum Photos) Trent Parke, the exhibition features some classic Magnum material. Some are displayed alongside their final images, such as the immortalization of Marlene Dietrich’s studio sessions by Eve Arnold.

The images featured in the book - both celebrated icons of photography and lesser-known surprises - encompass over seventy years of history: from the D-Day Normandy landings by Robert Capa, the 1968 Paris riots by Bruno Barbey and war in Chechnya by Thomas Dworzak, to René Burri’s filmic sequence of close-ups of Che Guevara, classic New Yorkers by Bruce Gilden, and Eve Arnold’s iconic portrait of the charismatic and image-savvy Malcolm X.

This exhibition provides a unique insight into the inner workings and thought processes of some of the world’s greatest photographers.