A new exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW tells the story of Australian life and the way we see ourselves through the eyes of the nation’s leading photographers.
Titled Australian vernacular photography, the show features 27 photographs from the last 50 years by the likes of David Moore, William Yang, Jeff Carter, Fiona Hall and Roger Scott, reveal a larrikin sense of humour and our love of the beach, from leathery sunbathers, to beer-drinking blokes and hippies, student protesters and suburban housewives, just as Australia began to find its modern identity.
It was also a time when photography was not yet considered art, but rather than the traditional studio portraits, these images were often sly snapshots in which the subject is unaware of the lens.
The result is a frank perspective on Australian culture, without the romanticising tendencies of earlier photography. However, in subsequent decades, a self-conscious aspect crept into the images when artists such as William Yang, Anne Zahalka and Trent Parke began to build narrative around Australian identity and history into their work.
Australian vernacular photography is a free exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW in Sydney until 18 May 2014.
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