Art as event – Steve McCurry Icons

exhibition at Seaworks, Melbourne, early 2024

This exhibition is now closed but its staging was a curious event. Before I write about the exhibition, a few words about the photography of Steve McCurry.

Besides the occasional individual photographs, his work is best known to me through his books. These I have seen a few and have always admired the productions – and the photo-essays. The one stand out being his essay on The Monsoon.

Many of the images are strong and have become well-known. His photo-essays publications rank as some of the best for this type of photography. His work has been about the people, even when the background was war and the effects of war, McCurry had emphasised the people.

With this in mind, when it was pointed  out that the Steve McCurry exhibition was to close 24th May, we headed across the city on the 16th May to have a look Рand for a day out.

The exhibition was staged within a darken shed with very dramatic theatre lighting. These were no longer photo-essays but a selection of images from across a career – ICONS. Well sort of!

With the voice overs of the photographer telling his stories, it was more of a show of heroic images of foreign peoples – foreign places. The event was more of an event and almost like a carnival light show.

But, if you could ignore the over-the-top production and the not so well printed photographs and tune out of the voice overs, many images were still captivating.

It was worth the effort to drive across town to see the exhibition. But the downside was that the show was not about doing the right thing by the photographs, as we have seen in the books. It was about enlarging the images, to take them out of context, and to make the event about drama and spectacle.

My rating for the exhibition, the event, would be about 2 out of five. Whereas is we had been looking at well printed colour photographs – the photography may have been 4 out of 5 (maybe a little more)

here’s a couple of images:



If the link still works – here’s the exhibition notice.

for more on Steve McCurry’s books – click here

another exhibition, Fields of Vision,  in London till June 22 Рa good range of images to be seen (if the page still works)

There’s a good piece on Wikipedia about Sharbat Gula

I intend to have a look at some of the books again – although I have found they are not readily available. Are they now too expensive or are such photo-essay books no longer in demand?

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