Down in the dumps
If Glenn Sloggett’s artwork were music it would be in the Minor key. It would be an album full of B sides, without any hits. The charm has to creep up on you. As it is, his chosen medium is photography and his ‘genre’ if that’s the right word for it, is street photography. After all shabby pavements and roadsides do feature repeatedly in Sloggett’s work, but this is not your average street photography. For starters he works with a square format (an old twin lens reflex) and shoots sparingly on film. He makes a roll last a while, partly because he has honed his eye and goes out knowing what he wants and partly because he’s not rolling in cash.
Down in the dumps continues Sloggetts long-term love-affair with the unloved and the unloveable. One of the things that distinguishes his oeuvre is the sheer, single-minded, clarity and persistence with which he has approached his work. For over 20 years he has elevated the burnt out and banal into something to be seen and celebrated, or at least acknowledged. He seeks out what most of us rush by or turn away from, as his titles suggest - Xmas dumping, Discarded flowers, Trackside lilies (popular suicide spot), The blob, Pokies car park and One dark night.
Who else but Glenn would photograph these things? He prints large too, so we can see with clarity the chaff, the rust and the ruin. These works aren’t about magical light or a romanticised decisive moment, in fact they probably depict the moment just before or just after something happened – on purpose. People are everywhere in Sloggett’s work, if you count the things they leave behind - their rubbish or discarded flowers, their used clothes or cars. This sense of absence and presence gives the works a real pathos. Our human foibles and failures are writ large – and we can either hate ourselves for them or, like Sloggett, see in them what it means to be human and find vestiges of hope.
Sloggett’s work has appeared in significant group exhibitions including Australian Vernacular Photography, Art Gallery of New South Wales; New Photography from the Footpath, Monash Gallery of Art; Melbourne Now, National Gallery of Victoria; and, We Used To Talk About Love, Art Gallery of New South Wales. Sloggett was Winner of the 2008 Josephine Ulrick Photography Award, and in 2015, released the self-published monograph Fibro Dreams. His works are held in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, National Gallery of Victoria, Gold Coast City Art Gallery, and Albury Regional Gallery, along with numerous private collections.