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date: 17 September 2019

Photography in Australialocked

  • Helen Ennis

Extract

Photography in Australia has many parallels with that in other countries but it also has many significant differences that are the result of specific historical conditions and circumstances. Features in common include the rapid acceptance of photographic technologies, the importance of portraiture and the view of trade in the 19th century, the engagement with international styles such as Pictorialism, the prominent role of illustrative and advertising photography from the 1920s onwards, and the impact of modernism, Post-modernism, and post-colonialism. These features are not unique to Australia—they can be seen as manifestations of photography’s globalizing impulses—but nonetheless they do have a particular local or national inflection. Equally important are the aspects of Australian photographic practice that are different to photography elsewhere. Chief among these is the photography associated with relations between indigenous and settler Australians. Photographs of Aboriginal people were prominent in the 19th century and photographs by Aboriginal people have been central to Australian photographic practice and the broader visual arts since the early 1980s. Also conspicuous is an orientation towards the external world and the prevalence of realist approaches, which can be related to materialist preoccupations and anti-intellectual traditions that have underpinned national life in some periods....

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