This years Sydney Biennale artistic directors Catherine de Zegher and Gerald McMaster noted in the Biennale catalogue that a changing reality is apparent in a renewed attention to how things connect, how we relate to each other and to the world we inhabit...an understanding that human beings are highly dependant upon our often overlooked relationships with others and with our common world.
This position is emphasised within the institution because a number of disciplines are positioned within close proximity to one another and the curriculum not only allows students, but encourages them, to access both knowledge and people across this spectrum. This years Photomedia Studio graduates have demonstrated the development of a highly nuanced creative ‘toolkit’ that includes material, conceptual and procedural skills – a skillset that evidences exposure to a variety of approaches to creativity across a number of disciplines within and outside of the creative arts context. Connectivity is ever-present in a variety of ways. It also demonstrates their growing awareness of critical thinking and analysis and an understanding of how research relates to creative expression.
These students have also shown a collective desire to push the boundaries of lens-based mediums. Because the lens is utilised by so many disciplines its contexts are multiple and it can be a deceptive chameleon. In the 2001 Samstag Catalogue essay Robyn McKenzie talks about models of research for contemporary artists. She observes that what characterises much contemporary practice is a syncretic methodology: the combination of ideas, techniques and materials to make connections that cross over the logical or rational boundaries between categories of object or systems of thought. The contemporary use of the lens makes it possible for artists to appropriate these various contexts in a quotational manner. This is evident in the work of this years Photomedia graduates by the number of creative strategies utilised across the studio – participatorial and procedural methodologies in addition to alternative processes of data collection and analysis – encouraging audiences to engage in art in ways that that were unforeseen at the beginning of these students’ degree.
The artworks created by the graduates of the Photomedia Studio respond to these ideas and speak to their maturing knowledge of contemporary art practice and culture. This exploration is undertaken across a number of forms from photography and video to sculpture and installation.
A number of artists have generously entered into the student/mentor relationship during these students’ studies and this influence has had a major impact on the artwork produced within the studio. The mentors include Claudia Terstappen, Brook Andrew, Peta Clancy, Warren Fithie, Siri Hayes, David Rosetzky, Matthew Stanton, Paul Batt, Joel Zika, Robin Hely and Patrick Pound. As a collective these artists’ practices speak the diversity of contemporary art practice. In addition, theorists with a particular interest in lens-based practice such as Anne Marsh, Melissa Miles and Daniel Palmer have contributed to the broader contextualisation of the students’ work and have been of equal importance to their creative development.
Photomedia Studio Coordinator