From Stella Rosa McDonald…
Who is Trent Parke? A man made from stars. Five sets of bovine eyes glowing in the dark. Ants on a Jatz cracker biscuit. A slippery dip. Someone or something enigmatic is always crossing the lens; but who is behind it? This question remains almost pleasingly unanswered by Parke’s intimate and idiosyncratic photographic series. Opening at Stills Gallery this week, The Black Rose shows a selection of photographs chosen from Parke’s immense, archival solo exhibition of the same name that opened at the Art Gallery of South Australia earlier this year.
Parke’s is a story told with the camera’s lens, through glass in the mirror and by accidents of shadow and light. Photographed over seven years, the series spans the tension between documentation and abstraction, exploiting the relationship between chance and accident that the photographer must be skilled at navigating. Parke is the only Australian member of the prestigious international photo agency, Magnum—founded by Robert Capa and Henri Cartier-Bresson in 1947—dedicated to humanist documentary photography. The Black Rose is a work of autobiography—dream-like, esoteric, wandering, with each image (or encounter) so unlike any other—but it is also a diary written without the reader in mind and as such is a deeply personal account of the everyday. The Black Rose is full of Barthes’ punctum; that detail in the image that transcends meaning and beauty, the wound, the question of who we are.
Until 7 November
Stills Gallery, Paddington
Pic: Trent Parke, Catfish and turtles, Roper River, Northern Territory, 2011. Pigment print, 152 x 245cm