MAph Built Photography

Museum of Australian Photography exhibition

An opinion piece about exhibitions, the visual arts, and things. 

Always up for a drive out to the Museum of Australian Photography at Wheelers Hill – in Melbourne, we drove out through the suburban streets (rather than the freeways) for the pleasure of taking in a range of suburbs on the way. The changes of architecture and the various old and new build environments make the journey worth-while.

Back to the exhibition Built Photography:

I was not too sure what to expect from the information online ( click here ), and this was again a bit of a puzzle when met at the front with this panel:

After a slow wander about, reading all the labels and taking in the artworks, I pondered on how I was reacting to this exhibition that had little photography and was not a lot about ‘built’.  I sort of expected strong references to architecture, built environments, urban living, cities etc.

I came the conclusion that this was not a photography exhibition. There was not a lot of “built’ on offer.

I had to adjust my way of seeing. This exhibition was to be experienced as a contemporary art exhibition.

My thoughts then went to making a comparison between what was in this gallery with the many contemporary arts exhibitions over the last decades where artists have incorporated mixed media,  fragments of photographs, collages, sculpture images on ‘interesting’ surfaces and have conjured up their interpretation of photographic processes.

This was not an exhibition where artists have embraced one medium – namely photography. This is an exhibition of mixed media – with touches of the use of photography and many other media.

I think that sums up much of contemporary art practice – especially those working in an academic context.

The challenge  for the photography audience is that contemporary art is often being shown in galleries dedicated to photography that previously had overtly embraced the many aspects of historic and contemporary photographic cultures and practices.

That situation makes for ‘interesting’ conversations.

I am not sure that the audience that loves and appreciates the many facets of photography and look forward to seeing contemporary photography will flock out to see this exhibition. This style of contemporary art is usually exhibited is within university art museum galleries – possibly a different audience.

But – despite any interpretation of my words above, I would encourage anyone in Melbourne or nearby to visit the Museum of Australian Photography – and have a look for yourselves.

It is a good gallery and the exhibition could be a thought-provoking experience. There’s a good chance many debates will happen after your visit. And have those discussions while having a coffee and something to eat in the cafe.

Here’s a few images:







The exhibition is on from 8th June – 25 August 2024. Here’s link for the exhibition

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