Dark Matters by Janina Green
This wide-reaching show by the German-born, Victorian-raised photographer covers 30 years of eclectic, fascinating work. There’s a huge amount to grapple with here, all shot through with a wonderful spirit of experimentation.
But far from being intellectual or technical exercises, these shots show an artist at her most interested and passionate, peering in on different subjects in different ways, and the urgency of the idea always takes precedence over the technical side. A simply shot Ikea vase is reproduced and washed in four different colours (interestingly, it’s listed as dating to both 2000 and 2012 –presumably Green took the shot in 2000 and only printed it 12 years later); a triptych of shots of people swimming in a waterfall, hand-coloured with imperfect abandon.
Endearingly, Green’s process shows in every image. Flowers are printed on silvery, rich paper and pinned messily to the wall, and sepia drops appear where they shouldn’t. One of the prints is even torn. It doesn’t matter – it’s all the glorious surface noise of an ongoing life in progress.
Dark Matters is at CCP until March 24.
There are no others by Amos Amy Gebhardt
In a darkened, curtained room at Gertrude Contemporary, Amos Amy Gebhardt’s There are no others follows a simple premise: nudes, shot in delicate slow-motion, floating against a crisp blue sky. Five projections fill the room with different models and different angles, and the simplicity of it draws attention to the fact that these are all models with non-traditional gender identities, shot with the liveliness and detail of traditional nude portraiture. The simple interplay of body and sky strip away the politics often tied up in these identities: gender dissolves against the sky, just people are left. But the secret success of the show is the triumphant collaboration between Gebhardt and Oren Ambarchi, who provides a moving, subtle score.
There are no others is at Gertrude Contemporary until March 5.
Some Want Quietly by Drew Pettifer
This show sits somewhere between portraiture and photojournalism, documenting the Japanese subculture of bishōnen – beautiful, effeminate young men. Spending two months in Tokyo, Pettifer shot straight and queer subjects, and the show is accompanied by a video piece consisting of interviews about bishōnen in contemporary Japan. Though it’s mostly provocative portraiture taken in bedrooms and love hotels, perhaps the whole show hinges around a single image of a giant pink phallus being carried through the streets of Tokyo in a parade that’s part Mardi Gras, part fertility rite. But all of Pettifer’s images play with that delicate worship of a very different kind of masculinity. To lend it journalistic weight, the show is accompanied by an interview film that gives the models a voice.
Some Want Quietly is at Daine Singer until March 5.
Phantom Ride by Daniel Crooks
Travelling slowly and steadily along an abandoned railway track somewhere out in the bush, you’re confronted by what can only be described as a magic door. Through it you can see suburbia. Another door appears. In it is a river with an elevated highway passing over it. The train tracks are the only constant. Daniel Crooks’ Phantom Ride is a ghost train through a variety of empty spaces, from the bush to suburbia, and it’s deceptively simple – the technical mastery is hidden behind the simplicity of the landscapes. This two-channel video work, like Crooks’ previous films, is about disrupting landscapes and building composite worlds through video installation. But Crooks’ dedication to the intricate technicality aside, it’s addictive and hypnotic to watch. Ride to the end of the line and then go to the other side to get a new perspective.
Phantom Ride is at ACMI until May 29.