Rod McNICOL<br/>
<em>Jack</em> (2006); 2009 {printed} <!-- (recto) --><br />
from the <i>A portrait revisited</i> series 1986-2006<br />
digital type C print<br />
48.0 x 67.1 cm (image) 60.9 x 80.0 cm (sheet)<br />
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne<br />
Purchased, Victorian Foundation for Living Australian Artists, 2009<br />
2009.429<br />
© Rod McNicol
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Jack (2006); 2009 {printed}
Media Release • 28 Apr 10

Timelines: Photography and Time

Opening 7 May, the National Gallery of Victoria will present Timelines: Photography and Time, a captivating exhibition exploring the notion of time in photographs.

Timelines will feature almost forty photographs from the NGV Collection by both Australian and international photographers including work by Diane Arbus, Micky Allan and Bill Brandt.

Isobel Crombie, Senior Curator of Photography, NGV said photography has a unique role to play in capturing the way that time passes.

“The camera’s ability to ‘stop the clock’ enables the medium to direct our consideration towards the mechanics and poetics of this pervasive and mysterious cosmic force.

“The instant that the photograph captures can be a potent reminder to seize the day rather than dreaming about the past or worrying about the future,” said Dr Crombie.

The exhibition also looks at how photographers have extended a sense of time and duration through images that work in series. From the 1960s onwards, photographers began experimenting with stretching time by creating a series or sequence of photographs.

This is seen in Rod McNicol’s powerful series titled A portrait revisited (1986–2006), (pictured Jack). Purchased by the NGV in 2009, the series features portraits of men and women; each posed directly facing the camera against a plain backdrop. There are two portraits of each subject photographed twenty years apart, inviting the viewer to compare the portraits to see how time has changed them. The sense of time passing is highlighted with the portrait of Peter, who is photographed only once. The blank image next to him is a reminder that he died before the second portrait was made.

Each phase of human existence has characteristic traits and features, and photographers have worked with these qualities in ways that evoke the passing of time and our place in this cycle. Arranged in part in a human timeline, the exhibition begins with the start of a new life as depicted in Christine Godden’s Joanie pregnant (1972) and Joanie with Jade (1973) and concludes with Kusakabe Kimbei’s Ritual washing for a funeral (c.1880), an image of a deceased man being prepared in the traditional Japanese way for burial. This final scene captures the grief of the moment when a lifetime ends.

Frances Lindsay, Deputy Director, NGV said: “The works in the exhibition show how artists have explored the concept of time in ways that may surprise, move or even confront viewers.  This exhibition provides visitors with a special opportunity to view this remarkable collection of photographs from the NGV Collection, many of which are on display for the first time.”

Timelines will include photographs by Micky Allan, Diane Arbus, Felice Beato, Bill Brandt, Brassaï, Harry Callahan, Imogen Cunningham, Walker Evans, Christine Godden, Ponch Hawkes, Petrina Hicks, Lewis Hine, Kusakabe Kimbei, Rosemary Laing, J.H. Lartigue, Ruth Maddison, Rod McNicol, David Moore, Jan Saudek, John Thompson, Roman Vishniac, and Edward Weston.

Timelines: Photography and Time will be on display at NGV International, St Kilda Road from 7 May – 3 October 2010. Open 10am–5pm, closed Tuesdays. Entry is free.

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