Not standing still: new approaches in documentary photography at the Monash Gallery of Art includes Ashley Gilbertson's photography
April 20, 2021 | Source: Monroe Gallery of Photography
On exhibit through May 16, 2021
PHOTO is a major new biennial international festival of photography that will activate Melbourne and sites across regional Victoria with the most inspiring photography from Australia and around the world.
MGA’s headlining Photo 2021 exhibition will explore the festival’s theme of ‘Truth’ through the lens of new documentary photography.
Not standing still: new approaches in documentary photography, will introduce Australian audiences to leading photographers from around the world who are making new documentary photography, many never having exhibited in Australia before. This exhibition will place Australian photographers alongside their international contemporaries; spanning 11 countries of origin, these are the photographers who are changing the way we think about photographic storytelling.
Truth is implicitly linked to photography because of its capacity to be a medium of record, but photographers have been using their tools to uncover and reimagine truths through investigative, imaginative and allusive photography.
New documentary photography is about rethinking the traditional ways of representing what the camera sees. Instead of straight documentation, these photographers have sought new ways to show pressing social and political issues, and in doing so are transforming photography itself.
Marine Corporal Christopher G. Scherer, 21, was killed by a sniper on July 21, 2007 in Karmah, Iraq. He was from East Northport, New York. His bedroom was photographed in February 2009. 2009
Included in the exhibition are selections from Ashley Gilbertson's "Bedrooms of the Fallen" series.
In 2004, Australian photojournalist Ashley Gilbertson spent time documenting the Second Battle of Fallujah in Iraq. Images he made during this assignment won him the Robert Capa Gold Medal for ‘best photographic reporting from abroad requiring exceptional courage and enterprise’. During the trip, one of the young marines escorting him was killed.
War photography is a complex phenomenon. It often relies on the bravura of a photographer to be in the ‘right place’ at the ‘right time’, capturing the action and the adrenaline on film to illustrate the drama of battle. To demonstrate the cost of this drama and to peel back its layers, Gilbertson has photographed bedrooms left behind by 40 soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The soldiers represented come from America, Canada, England, France, Germany, Italy, and Scotland. Their rooms show us what remains of lives cut short, displaying what is not evident in pictures of the battlefield. The familiar and ordinary objects that pepper these images communicate some of the texture of a soldier’s life, which is preserved in these photographed spaces – like an altar or memorial – in a way that a picture of an explosion or even a coffin struggles to convey.
This series also show us what families cling to, and how memory and remembrance work in the real world of contemporary conflict. Gilbertson’s photographs show an aspect of war that is often secondary to images of battle. In their quietness these images reach no crescendo or catharsis, and so force a shift in pace in both the making and viewing of war photography.
View more of Ashley Gilbertson's work here