City Gallery Wellington Te Whare Toi: News From the Sun

The window, the horizon, and the still life are some of photography’s biggest clichés. Darkroom and Instagram famous, beloved by professionals and amateurs alike, they demand to be photographed. They have become ciphers for photography itself. News from the Sun features three photographers, who each explore one of these motifs. In each case, the favoured motif is abstracted, serialised, and transformed through formal processes and manipulations that push it far beyond the cliché.

Australian artist Justine Varga’s Areole series combines cameraless and lens-based photography. Key to her investigation is the repeated image of a latticed window, taken from the same negative but shown in multiple states. It harks back to some of the first photographs ever made, Henry Fox Talbot’s 1835 views of a latticed window.

Wellington photographer Shaun Waugh rethinks the still life through new digital imaging technologies. Working from a traditional still life set up of single-use plastic bottles, he uses focus stacking to combine multiple views. The undulating, transparent surfaces of injection-moulded plastic bottles reflect and refract light. Plastic bottles—an environmental hazard symbolic of our disposable society—make for seductive abstractions. His photos of containers explore photography as container.

Wellington artist Harry Culy’s The Gap is an ongoing series of seascapes, started in 2014. They present views of the horizon from Sydney’s South End Beach at various times of day under different weather conditions—fixing the unfixable ‘moods of the sea’. This classic formal exercise took on other dimensions when Culy discovered the site was a notorious suicide spot. His seascapes speak to stillness and movement, beauty and horror, life and death. Culy also makes photobooks under the moniker Bad News Books, and will publish the catalogue for the show.

News From the Sun on view at City Gallery Wellington Te Whare Toi 16 November–15 March 2020

City Gallery Wellington Te Whare Toi: News From the Sun