Since its inception photography has been used to document objects made by human beings – things. This provides the rationale for the exhibition Things: photographing the constructed world.
The works of major Australian photographers, as well as little known or anonymous photographers, are brought into the public domain. Charles Bayliss, Olive Cotton, Frank Hurley, Wolfgang Sievers, Samuel Sweet and Anne Zahalka are among the renowned photographers represented.
The exhibition deals with the wonderful diversity of objects represented in the National Library of Australia’s photography collection. Machinery, monuments, industrial products, domestic objects, bicycles, toys, furniture, and a great deal more from the 19th century to the present day.
The photographs document various aspects of Australian life, ranging from the most mundane to the grand. Images show the domestic sphere and the built environment, farming, science, industry and exploration - objects made for pleasure and for work.
The exhibition also highlights the different approaches used to represent the real. All photographers have been motivated to document an object in as much detail as possible, either by isolating it in the frame or representing it in multiple forms in relation to other like things. The photographs have been produced using glass lantern slides, stereographs and colour slides to black and white and colour prints.
This focus on photographs of objects draws attention to the systems used by libraries to make sense of the pictorial material that has been collected for posterity. Photography provides a central means of coming to know the world – documenting, measuring and classifying objects made by humans.
Through the diversity of Things photographed, the exhibition celebrates less tangible, but vital forces in Australian life - the industriousness and creativity of Australian people who fashioned a huge range of objects over the past century and a half.
The exhibition enables gallery visitors to engage with the National Library’s large archive of documentary photographs in new ways.
Things: photographing the constrcuted world will be on display at the National Library of Australia from 24 November to 17 February.
For more information visit www.nla.gov.au
Parkes Place, Parkes Australian Capital Territory, Australia
For more information, contact the organiser by calling 02 6262 1111 or visit www.nla.gov.au .