Photographs Arranged in Series

Curated by Anne Ferran

Photographs Arranged in Series

Sara Oscar and Justine Varga


Thursday Sep 27

6 - 8pm

Sep 28 – Oct  20 2012

Friday & Saturday


Sutton Gallery

254 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

VIC 3065


Sara Oscar, Law of Series #11(forest elephants, Pleistocene period, quarternary era), 2012

Photographs Arranged in Series has grown out of my desire for more exhibitions of contemporary photography that include the history of photography among their concerns. By history I don’t mean any particular account of the past, more the ongoing activity of linking the past with the present and the future. The exhibition title comes courtesy of a recent catalogue essay by Adam Jasper on Sara Oscar’s work. It is also intended to recall the title of Bruce Nauman’s 1967 series, Flour Arrangements

A visible attachment to the photographic medium and its history is relatively rare among contemporary artists. However the photographs that offer the most lasting pleasure are often ones that, dissatisfied with looking through their medium at something else in the world, find ways to reflect on it. I thought there must be others like me who want more of the subtle and varied intellectual and aesthetic pleasures this sort of photography has to offer.

 While the works of Sara Oscar and Justine Varga have particular concerns of their own, they are both adept practitioners of this kind of photography. Many artists make use of photography; Oscar and Varga cultivate it. Both have produced photographic work that is generously laden with prompts for thought as well as aesthetic pleasure. 

In Justine Varga’s Empty Studio, a series of small object-based scenarios has been constructed within the confines of the artist’s studio, then enclosed again within photography’s rectilinear frame. In this and other ways this work is rich in references to photographic time, space and materiality. As a fleeting intervention in an otherwise empty space, each composition must disappear to make way for the next, creating a succession of recorded moments that is another form of alignment with photography. 

The subject of Sara Oscar’s work is the photographic series itself. The Law of the Series breaks down the familiar serial structure and pulls it apart. What appears on the wall is (here I want to say a series, the habit is hard to break) a sequence of images that do not obviously resemble or repeat each other (though certain elements recur) yet where, paradoxically, the idea of the series is more acutely present than ever. 

It doesn’t take much of a leap to see this work of reconfiguring the series as having implications for both photographic history and history in general, as a method for leaping forward and back across time and space, picking out scattered threads and linking them together. 
- Anne Ferran, 2012

Sara Oscar received a Doctor of Philosophy (Visual Arts) from Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney, in 2007. She recently presented The Law of the Series at MOP Projects, Sydney, 2012, and has been included in numerous group exhibitions including: Tag Team Tournament, Firstdraft Gallery, Sydney, 2005; The Containers Project, Next Wave Festival, Federation Square, Melbourne, 2004; and informé, Australian Embassy, Paris, 2003. In 2004 Oscar was nominated for the Helen Lempriere Travelling Scholarship Exhibition presented at Artspace, Sydney, whilst in 2010 she received the Kodak Award for Excellence in Photomedia presented by the Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne.

Justine Varga received a Bachelor of Fine Art (Photography) with Honours from the National Art School, Sydney, in 2007. During the second half of this year her work will be featured in several significant group exhibitions, including: Flatlands: Photography and Everyday Space, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; The Lookout, National Art School Gallery; and Privamera 2012, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. Varga was a 2011 finalist in the Helen Lempriere Traveling Art Scholarship presented at Artspace, Sydney, and was nominated for Young Photographer, Infinity Awards, International Centre of Photography, New York, in 2010. Her work has been collected by the Art Gallery of New South Wales and Macquarie University, Sydney.

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