The Object of Photography

The Object of Photography
An installation of monochrome photographs, lamps, mirrors, suspended glass and metal bowls, reflected light and shadows.

'The installation is purposeful and presents an ambitious hypothesis. Some objects, it says, feature largely in photographs, while others creep in without any artistic determination; both, however, are unified by their absence. Photos are ghostly traces: the only substance behind them is the viewer's compliance in supplementing them with artificial knowledge.

The filtered light and shadow are the physical traces of (glass and metal) objects on the wall, but they're thin and disembodied on that screen, dancing with empty enigmatic distortion. In another part, a beam strikes a mirror, which produces an eclipse on one wall and a flare on the adjacent wall. There could be an aura - something glowing, something deep - but there's nothing, no spooky aura, just light. Fereday pokes at the hole in halo.

The final irony is that her photos are rather gorgeous. There's an aesthetic in her scepticism. Through the hypnotic mandalas, the cryptic side of beauty comes out of hiding, stripped bare of its "cameraflage".'

Robert Nelson, exhibition review, 'Installation pokes at hole in halo', The Age, 1995

'The Object of Photography peruses the phantasmic systems of representation which rationalise Western culture's faith in photographic images. In the theatrically lit gallery are suspended transparent and opaque kitchen bowls and shaving mirrors, with photographs arranged in circles on the walls. Dangling from the ceiling, this range of consumer goods hijacked from the shelves of interior design stores is intended to convey the particular confidence in radical critique fostered by the historical avant-garde. Like Duchamp's hat rack, each item states its objecthood while simultaneously exposing, through shadow projection, the mechanics of photographic representation as a trace of light. This high spectacle of refraction and translucence thus questions two of the most enduring tropes of Western art: the objective readymade and, accented by the spot of white light projected high up in the gallery, the disembodied logic of pure perception.

Beneath the analytical rigour of Fereday's post-object conceptualism is a pop humour that has, until now, been more evident in her sculptural pieces. This humour is shaped from a system of equivalence's between objects and their decomposed representations that mixes the everyday creature comforts with art, and tabloid claims of UFO sightings, alien abductions and human experimentation with doleful creative mythologies.'

Robert Schubert, exhibition review, 'The Object of Photography', Art + Text, 1995

Copyright © Susan Fereday, 2019