From Carrie Miller…
Portraiture has been one of the enduring genres in Western art. Traditionally, portraits were commissioned by the church, the aristocracy and, later, the middle class, to promote their wealth and status. With the advent of photography in the 19th Century, however, the genre of portraiture became a popular cultural form available to the average person. Now the camera is in the hands of the subject. Digital media technology has provided the means for us to be more than consumers; we’re now producers and publishers of images of ourselves.
Artist Emma Thomson’s practice is about these shifts in the genre of portraiture and with each series of quirky, fascinating, and sometimes disturbing works, she sets out to interrogate what’s been termed ‘the troubling gaze of photography’ – the question of who is in control: the subject or the photographer.
In her latest series of images, Take Your Best Shot, undertaken as part of a residency program at Dubbo Regional Gallery, and in association with the Head On Photo Festival, she has chosen to turn her lens on female hunters. The motivation for choosing women and hunting came about from Thomson looking at hunting magazines and online photos of women and hunting, some of whom had sent in their photos to be displayed. In this context, these images are about emphasising the glamour of the woman rather than the fact they are hunters. Thomson’s images combine elements of glamour photography with more traditional portraiture to create pictures that complicate the relationship of women hunters to the gaze of the viewer. Each photo, to varying degrees, depict the agency of the female subject in a traditionally masculine landscape.
Emma Thomson will be in conversation with Kent Buchanan, Curator, Western Plains Cultural Centre, at the gallery on Friday 17 May, 2 – 3pm