William Henry Fox Talbot, Nicolaas Henneman, James Tylor, Killian Breier, Lewis Rutherfurd, NASA, Man Ray, Justine Varga, Thomas Barrow, Marion Hardman, Anne Ferran, Andreas Müller-Pohle, Alison Rossiter, Shaun Waugh, Danica Chappell, Ben Cauchi and Ghazaleh Hedayat. Curated by Justine Varga and Geoffrey Batchen
Runes: Photography and Decipherment
Playing on the ambiguity of its pronunciation, Runes is an exhibition of small photographic works that rupture or ruin any clear distinction between legibility and illegibility. Although sometimes abstract in appearance, these works are nevertheless all indexical traces of specific phenomena or actions; despite appearances, they are, in other words, insistent manifestations of the real. This confrontation of realism and abstraction is joined by other, equally striking oppositions: intimacy and scale, vernacular and fine art, old and new, chance and deliberation, instantaneity and duration, obscurity and insight. The aspirations of science join the alchemy of photography and the logic of drawing to inspire the gathering of this enigmatic conglomeration of objects. Fascinating as individual works, the diverse components of Runes collectively ask viewers to reflect on the activity of decipherment in relation to photographs, making this exhibition a critical rumination on inscription, meaning and knowledge.
Image: Photographer unknown (USA) Certificate with heraldic emblem (bearing the inverted words "In the name of Hoyt") c. 1855, daguerreotype in half leather case,
12.1 x 9.6cm. Collection of Geoffrey Batchen, Wellington.