This winter the Museum of Contemporary Art presents a major survey of photographic works by documentary photographer Ricky Maynard, encompassing more than two decades of the artist’s practice.
Portrait of a Distant Land features more than 60 evocative and captivating photographic works, drawn from six bodies of work, which document the lives and culture of Maynard’s people, the Ben Lomond and Cape Portland peoples of Tasmania.
Ricky Maynard, The Healing Garden, Wybalenna, Flinders Island, Tasmania from the series Portrait of a Distant Land 2005. 40.5 x 50 cm. Black and white gelatin silver print. Courtesy the artist and Stills Gallery, Sydney © the artist.
The exhibition is curated by MCA Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Programs Keith Munro and is presented at the MCA from 4 June until 23 August 2009.
Born in Launceston, Tasmania in 1953 Maynard is a self taught documentary photographer now based on Flinders Island in the Bass Strait between Tasmania and mainland Australia.
Maynard first came to prominence in the late 1980s with a photographic essay about Aboriginal mutton bird farmers and he has continued to document physical and social landscapes which form a visual record and representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia.
“For me, photographs have always been personal and I hope to convey the intimacy of a diary. Photography has the ability to tell stories about the world and how the photograph has power to frame a culture,” said Maynard, describing his practice.
The works presented in Portrait of a Distant Land survey a broad range of themes and issues facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people today. It includes photographs which document sites significant to Maynard’s people: ranging from serenely beautiful landscapes which follow the song lines, tribal movements and historical displacement routes of his ancestors, to the confrontational and emotionally-charged images of Indigenous people incarcerated in the South Australian prison system.
The six photographic series by Maynard which are featured in the exhibition are The Moonbird People (1985-88), No More Than What You See (1993), Urban Diary (1997), In The Footsteps of Others (2003), Returning To Places That Name Us (2000) and Portrait of a Distant Land (2005- ). Together these works create a form of visual diary of multiple landscapes derived from collective oral histories of Maynard’s people.
Maynard has exhibited nationally and internationally and has continued to win countless awards and accolades around Australia and the globe including the 1994 Mother Jones International Prize, 1996 Human Rights Commission Photography Award and in 2003 the Kate Challis RAKA Award for Indigenous Contemporary Creative Arts. Maynard’s work was featured at the Australian Embassy as part of the inaugural Paris Photoquai Biennale in 2007, organised by the Musée du quai Branly.
Ricky Maynard: Portrait of a Distant Land has extensive tour schedule which takes in international, national and regional locations. Elements of the exhibition have already been presented at the Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery, Cultural Centre Tjiabaou, French Embassy Exhibition Space Port Villa, Pataka Museum of Art & Culture and Cairns Regional Gallery.
Following the MCA presentation, the exhibition will continue to tour to Port Macquarie Regional Gallery, the State Library of Victoria and the Art Gallery of Western Australia in 2010.
Presented concurrently to Portrait of a Distant Land is a second exhibition which features a selection of photographic works by leading international documentary photographers. The photographers presented in Revealing Moments in Time were selected by Maynard for the influence they had over his own professional practice. Maynard spent time in the late 1980s studying at the International Centre of Photography in New York.
Revealing Moments in Time includes the work of Mary Ellen Mark, whose confronting and direct images changed social attitudes, alongside works by Walker Evans and Eugene Smith whose images possess an element of great storytelling.
Works by members of the renowned f/64 group of west coast American photographers including Edward Weston and Ansel Adams are also presented. Weston is recognised for having introduced a new aesthetic to photography, whilst Adams possesses an independent concept and approach to photography.
Both of the exhibitions, Ricky Maynard: Portrait of a Distant Land and Revealing Moments in Time, are free entry and run at the MCA from 4 June until 23 August 2009.
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