Monday 18 April 2011

James VOLLER - “Constructing Site”

This is my first visit to Beam Contemporary in Guilford Lane where James Voller is exhibiting photographs taken in parts of Europe such as Germany, Czech Republic and Austria.

I’m familiar with his works taken in New Zealand. There are two photographs in this exhibition of this work. He finds a location of disuse such as an old construction site or tip. Here his work becomes site specific and he applies a black and white print of houses onto an old concrete blocks. He then takes a photo of this. First impressions make you look closer at the photograph and its location. An industrial bland landscape becomes a living entity, with such a simple technique of mixing paste ups with photography.

However, his photographs of Europe have evolved while maintaining his distinctive technique. Three photographs in particular convey this but he has added the element of perspective. A great example of this is a photograph of a drain in perspective with a suburban seaside landscape with houses above. The drain has Voller’s characteristic paste up of an exaggerated picture of what looks like bricks from a ruin. That same curiosity captures your interest as you try and piece the perspective and location.

The remaining photographs have a different element. These works could be missed for interestingly composed pictures. Closer inspection makes you just as curious. The locations are in construction as the title of the show suggests. The beauty of textures, unfinished structure and location make these photographs work. I think these images would improve in strength if printed on a larger scale.

These photographs made me question unused and insignificant space and it’s relevance to historical ruins. Europe has a long history of western development where  Australia has a young colonial past. Is this a future glimpse of what Australian historical ruins may look like? Will industrial wastelands or disused containers lining the Footscray docklands become tourist sites?

An exhibition worth viewing and an artist worth following.

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