From a once male dominated arena, female photographers have been at the forefront of Australian contemporary photography for decades. Their work often explores the internal, physiological, and intimate aspects of life, love, and loss. Here are four such photographers whose works would be well placed in your contemporary art collection.
In smotheringly close, or odd angled views, Pat Brassington’s images are seemingly innocent. Her images open like a flower and then morph into a physiological rorschach test. The narratives are provocative yet ambiguous, an arousing beauty emphasised by its exquisitely loaded connotations, leaving interpretation in the eyes of the viewer.
In their composition and form, Hicks’ photographs adhere to a purist aesthetic. Against a flawless surface, her subjects float like classical marble sculptures. A strong advocate for females in photography, Hicks portrays the interior world of young women, more so than their exterior world. Her practice frequently draws inspiration from art historical references, archetypes, and myths.
Polexeni Papapetrou’s practice began by exploring carefully constructed stage-managed worlds; those of drag queens, wrestlers, and Elvis look-alikes. It was only after the birth of her daughter that Papapetrou began to create new worlds with her biggest muse, Olympia. During this pivotal period, Olympia was photographed in fantastical settings, reflecting a limitless world of imagination and storytelling.
In the realm of photography and portraiture, Anne Zahalka addresses issues relevant to cultural diversity, gender, and class. Collating inspiration from tourist brochures collected on her travels, Zahalka explores the peculiar notion that travellers experience the natural world as a spectacle, whilst addressing the absence of a realistic picture through a play on art-historical motifs and signifiers.
HANNAH RYAN / Art Specialist
Banner Image (detail): POLIXENI PAPAPETROU (1960-2018) Beating Drums 2003, c-type print, ed. 5/6. $2,500 – 3,500