Each year as part of Graduate Photography Online we ask a number of professionals from the world of photography to review all the MA/MFA work submitted and choose their favourites. We hope this makes an interesting introduction to the project as a whole.
For every artist, producing a body of work is fraught with not only the inherent challenge of failure, but also the trial of encountering and engaging with a difficult and complex subject. This is often the case for photographers and regularly that journey is a quite personal and emotional odyssey. A wide array of the submissions this year involve work which clearly required courage and bravery in both the themes explored and the process of making the body of work. It is clear that the future of the medium is secure in the hands and minds of this generation of photographers, who exhibit not just wide-ranging technical skills but also the intellectual capacity to push boundaries.
Selector's Comment: The subtle play of gesture and balletic symmetry which photography is so adept at snatching out of time, is beautifully explored in this series of street photographs. Austinskaitė’s Sidewalk scenes appear to have been carefully directed and staged but on closer inspection, it is clear they have been hard won through a studied conflation of light and human interplay. These theatrical moments encourage the viewer to spin off multiple narratives and storylines beyond the frame of the tightly wrought photographs.
Selector's Comment: The subject of this project is a universal one in this the era, in which displaced people across the globe is the greatest challenge facing us all. Vinh Dao has managed to produce a quiet and intense body of work which touches on these themes through an intimate and personal series. It culminates in a brilliant installation design which applies the photographs to one of the Balikbayan / Return to Country boxes, to amplify the concept beyond the mute still photographs.
Selector's Comment: Transcribing history has long been at the root of photography, and yet some of its great successes have been in the hands of artists attempting to relate purely emotional states involving no physical engagement between the camera and subject. O’Brien has explored her missed relationship to an absent parent through subtle use of abstract details, drawings and text to build a sensibility which transmits a taut emotional state of yearning.
Selector's Comment: Photography is implicit in the writing of histories, and this smart conceptual project uses the medium to explore the role of archaeology and the museum in the control of historical narratives. The installation views suggest a complex interweaving of astute and incisive images to produce a complex collage impression of the themes.
Selector's Comment: This is a bold documentary project which consists in an over-arching assessment of not simply one particular thread in the ideology of a country - the notion that Australia is ‘lucky’ - but which builds into a critique of the nature and self-identification of the nation. Hoare’s subtle mix of colour with black and white, portrait with landscape and details, offers an evocative sense of place loaded with metaphor and suggestion. It presents a very honest vision which manages to walk the difficult line between cynicism and a kindly reflection on a human state of being.
Selector's Comment: Using a beautiful palate and a quiet sensibility, Niamh Smith’s series radiates the calm of an artist in clear control of her medium. The work appears well suited to both book and exhibition presentations at the quite different scales those mediums offer.
Selection by Caroline Hunter ▸
Picture Editor, Guardian Weekend Magazine.
Selection by Catherine Troiano ▸
Curator, National Photography Collections at National Trust.
View Submission Guidelines ▸