From Carrie Miller…
In his latest exhibition at Breenspace, Sub/Dub, Gary Carsley appropriates a photograph taken of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam’s first state visit to China. It was a momentous occasion – a meeting with Chinese officials following the Cultural Revolution and one that symbolised Whitlam’s radically progressive approach to what lesser men were calling the ‘red menace’.
But in typical Carsley style, it isn’t simply a portrait that reveals the ‘truth’ of the moment. Like his practice generally, it is rendered in a faux- material – marble contact film of the type that would have fancied-up a suburban mantelpiece in the 70s – that simultaneously evokes the historical significance of the time, yet also reveals the many levels in which Whitlam circulates as a sign in popular culture: as the ‘people’s Prime Minister’, but equally as an image from the Norman Gunston show.
In the same way that Carsley’s practice – driven by the crackling intelligence and witty eye of the artist – represents a complex and critical intervention into photography’s relationship to the real, no doubt there are many layers of meaning to the photographic works in Sub/Dub. But his works are also just as successful on the surface – a place that Carsley is an expert at finding depth.
Until September 15
Pic: Gary Carsley, The Whitlams in China, 2012. Lambda monoprints on reynobond, 200x180cm, Courtesy Breenspace and the artist.
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