Sunday, August 02, 2015

Photographer as Poet

“Photography is a space where I can be alone in my thoughts, observe and record.
Justine Varga

For the minimalist Australian photographer Justine Varga the darkroom is a refuge that allows her to “explore other concerns to do with the photographic medium, philosophy and art in general that are not wholly reliant on geographic location.

Varga’s interest in photography began while she was in high school. As she told the Try Hard Magazine “Photography was part of my year eight art class. I connected with it immediately and before too long I was given free run of the darkrooms. I would be in there most lunchtimes, really whenever I could. I didn’t particularly enjoy school so it was a refuge for me.”

Now armed with a Bachelor of Fine Art’s degree with a photography major from Sydney’s National Art School, Varga indulges her interest in poetry using analogue photography as her medium.

As she explained to Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art in 2012 “Poetry has the ability to get to the core of things and at the same time is difficult to pin even when it is stripped down, for me it is felt. Like most art forms it becomes very much about your own experience your relationship to the work, it is personal whether you read it or create it. And when I think about this, this is largely why I want to be an artist and why I want to engage with art, to read poetry.

As the Art Collector Magazine noted about Varga’s work “In our global environment of image saturation and infinite reproduction, her work is a welcome shift in the genre of photography. As is the focus not on self, through portraiture or the tiring documentation of the social activities of so many millions, but through symbolic gestures and actions that speak about individual existence in a private space.”

About her photographic process Varga has said “I enjoy exploring analogue processes, of late it has drawn me to concentrate on the film surface – this surface for me is one fundamental point of difference between the two [analogue and digital photography] and I have begun to exploit its materiality within works… The photographic medium is linked inextricably to time - the very nature of exposure or capture is dependent on it. Time in this regard has particularly played out in my camera-less works, such as Desklamp (see above). Exposed for the better part of a year this work can be read as a moving image – time stretched out and collapsed again into a single frame. This idea of time also extends to the speed of images. As images in today’s current climate become ever more immediate and overwhelming in number – in other words as they accelerate – I feel the need to empty out and create slow images.

Examples of Varga’s can currently be seen at Melbourne’s Centre for Contemporary Photography until the 6th of September and Sydney’s MOP Gallery until the 16th of August.

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