Photography in New Zealand
- John B. Turner
The pattern of development in photography in New Zealand was similar to other colonies in the Victorian era. Progress was slow because of the country’s geographical remoteness and small population. Difficulties of overseas supply and local demand—the very traffic of equipment, materials, ideas, and pictures—have shaped all levels of achievement. Pioneer photographers were participant-observers in the process of nation building who could not but see the world according to the values of their upbringing. For instance, after the wars over land ceased in the 1880s, defeated Maori were imagined as a dying race and their culture was studied with fresh urgency. Maori subjects were common among photographers; the treatments ranging from nostalgic romanticism to abject realism.
Pictorial photography, photography’s first international art movement, dominated the camera club movement throughout the first half of the 20th century, and effectively muted the radical social precepts of modernism to the point of portraying it as an essentially anti-Pictorialist movement. In a society where art practice tends more towards the experiential than cerebral, the influence of Post-modernism, generally perceived as an anti-modernist movement, in its turn seems largely academic....