Albury-wide 24: Visions of a community at work and play

Research output: Non-textual outputs, including Creative WorksCreative Works - Original - Visual art works

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In the minds of the general public, photography is a medium that reflects “the world as it is.” Yet the reality could not be further from the truth, as the photographic artist holds tremendous power and exercises total control over the resulting image.
The artist’s mental eye imagines a visual world which is realised by selective photographic angles and lighting, choice of location and pose, and the framing of the subject. The resulting image is not reality, but a tangible manifestation of a photographer’s imagination. Portrait photography in particular, is a carefully constructed world of subject and setting, replete with accoutrements that signify or exemplify the subject’s status and profession. Disembodied from the real world, these images are meant to distil the essence of the person whose portrait is shown.
Even though we perceive and experience our surroundings in a broad frame—our binocularvision is 120º—we tend to be content to have our reality re-presented in a fragmented form, confined and constrained by the tyranny of the camera we wield. We live in an age where portraiture has increasingly come to mean a ‘selfie’ shot with amobile phone camera, its framing ultimately defined by the length of one’s arm. Social media influencers, self-obsessed with form over function, with looks over substance, are generating narcissistic imagery that many ‘followers’ wish to emulate—often at personal peril, as many falls and deaths at ‘photogenic locations’ attest.
Self-portraiture has morphed with self-marketing, dominated by a choice of elaborate dress, make-up, location and/or a range of filters liberally applied.
Swamped by this tidal wave of narcissistic imagery are real people in real settings, those people who underpin the functioning of our communities. Marginalised, overlooked and taken for granted, they rarely feature in the photographic world, unless as victims of crime or asnatural disasters.
AlburyWide 24 tackles this issue. Albury’s community is changing, in terms of its ethnic and social mix, and also in terms of its patterns of work and play. The aim of this photographic project is to provide a snapshot of Albury as it appeared at the end of 2018. AlburyWide 24 showcases and celebrates real people in real settings, people who underpin the functioning ofour city, as well as those who utilise its places and spaces.
This photo project used environmental portraiture with a 120º distortion-free panoramic camera, to replicate human vision when capturing Albury at work and play. The project comprised two discrete parts: an intensive 24-hour shoot, photographing subjects in their spaces of work, as well as a series of contextual images of people and settings. The project was shot during November 2018. The 24-hour period ran from noon, Thursday 1 November to noon on Friday 2 November. Additional images were shot on the same, as well as subsequent days.
The participants showcased in the 24-hour sequence of this project are all ‘normal’ peopleworking everyday jobs: airport worker, bar tender, butcher, city ranger, community advocate, cook, dog groomer, dried produce distributor, dry cleaning operator, educational instructor, firefighter, food preparer, hairdresser, ice cream maker, museum curator, newsagent, osteopath, pastissier, petrol station attendant, pizza maker, physiotherapist, postal worker, roller-skaterink operator, surgeon, taxi driver and teacher.
We tend to be aware that surgeons, ambulance drivers, police and firefighters work round the clock. But how many of us realise that someone has to work in the middle of the night to receiveand individually roll the newspapers that some of us still expect to find delivered to our doorstep as we wake, bleary-eyed, to face another day?
The images were mounted at 45 different locations throughout Albury. They were displayed in shop windows, on balconies, on walls and on fences. Impressively, none of the images were graffitied or otherwise vandalised. In addition to these static locations, one image was mounted on the side of a white butcher’s van, which travelled the whole area of Albury and Wodonga.
AlburyWide 24 involved far more people than just those photographed. By permitting the use of their windows and balconies, the owners of the premises became involved in the public art project. As intended, most people stumbled on an image, not expecting to encounter a large black and white portrait, essentially the size of a door. The images were well received, with many people recognising subjects they knew, thus creating recognition of their role in the community.
Albury “as is” was displayed for the community to see and for them to have an insight into the ‘normal’ day to day lives of the 24 subjects compressed in a one day timeframe.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationAlbury, NSW
Media of outputArtwork
Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2019


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