Terra Nullius

Art Life , Exhibitions Dec 06, 2013 No Comments

From Sharne Wolff

Dean Tirkot has lived in Bondi for over a decade and has been working on his Terra Nullius series of photographs for several years. Having recently completed a Master of Studio Art at Sydney College of the Arts, Tirkot’s graduation display comprises a series of 10 life-size portraits of Bondi Beach stereotypes. With subjects ranging in ages from 15 to 85 years, Tirkot’s images are presented for close examination – like scientific illustrations. While Tirkot follows in the footsteps of artists like Max Dupain in capturing Australia’s relationship with the beach, his images are concerned with the humanity of those who frequent our idyllic coastal fringe.

QT_December 6_Terra nullius

No friend of photoshopping, Tirkot uses an 8 x 10 large format camera to capture each person in very sharp focus. While every image is created slowly, the time-consuming process allows Tirkot to develop a trusting relationship with his subjects. Shown on stark white backgrounds arms by their sides and stripped of emotion, most are portrayed without their best face forward. The title Terra Nullius from the Latin phrase meaning ‘land that belongs to no one’ is inextricably connected with the Mabo case and Indigenous land claims. Tirkot draws on this association to link his series with historical ethnographic photographs of Indigenous people. His intent is to “entice a deeper layer of reflection, in the systems that connect identity, lineage, history and memory of Australian culture”.

Terra Nullius is presented in conjunction with Sydney College of the Arts end of year postgraduate exhibition.

Until December 11
Sydney College of the Arts, Lilyfield
Pic: Dean Tirkot, Terra nullius, 2013. (From the series Terra Nullius Works – 1 to 10) Large format photography. All works 182 x 125 cm

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Sharne Wolff

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