image Susie Fox
A series of events last week left me in a position where I was able to visit the Hijacked 2 show at the MGA .
The first Hijacked volume featured works from Australian and American photographers and was a big fat success. Hijacked 2 is the product of the collaboration of Perth based curator Mark McPherson and German curator Ute Noll. The two have come together to present a sort of survey of contemporary photography in both countries which is published as a photography book and showcased in this exhibition. The photographers featured from Australia are amongst our most prominent ( Polixeni Papapetrou and Narelle Autio both have works featured.)
The photography ranges from fine art portraiture, documentary, conceptual and landscape, each artist given more than one image to stake their claim in the show. Although I can see the merits of such a varied approach to curation, Hijacked proves that groups shows are rarely without their issues. To begin with, each work was not given any sort of context- name, title and print details are all the accompanies the work. In a solo show this could work, or if the overall theme was something more tangible, but instead this approach creates a real sense of disharmony. As each photographer is only exhibited a snippet of larger series the viewer does not know what they are looking at. But the time you have processed the works of the one photographer in front of you, you are faced with a completely different work from a different artist. I know this is a curatorial tool and kind of the point of the show, that the awkward juxtaposition should create a a dialogue between the image, but for me it just became in cohesive and I found myself drawn to the few images I liked and dismissing the ones I didn't which I rarely do.
Nevertheless, there are some real gems in the show. Images from one if my favourite series " Lower your ears" by Melbourne based photographer Georgia Metaxas are included but are much smaller prints than she usually exhibits. Had I not been familiar with her work already I doubt as a viewer I would have been able to really enjoy her work.
A lot of the works featured by the Australian artists have been publicized or exhibited over the past few years ( James Brickwood's great schoolies series must be at least 3 years old). But to me it is always staggering to see a huge Polixeni Papapetrou print up close, no matter how overly familiar I am with the work.
Hijacked volume one featured much lesser known Australian artists but some big name American ones, and in this show it seems the German photographers had taken somewhat of a backseat. It seams the trend toward urban landscapes is still running high in Germany and Andreas Gurskey's influence is as pervasive as ever.
I'm going to try and get a copy of the book as I did enjoy so many of the images, but I am left wondering why it is that the exhibition seemed so much like an afterthought.
HIJACKED 2 Monash Gallery of Art, Melbourne 860 Ferntree Gully Rd, Wheelers Hills, VIC
30 October 2010–23 January 2011