Sam Hartnett’s photography depicts people and areas that sit on the margins, outside of what is ‘common’ or ‘normal’, but which can still be found in the realm of the everyday. His photographs deal with perception and the potential for the line between illusion and reality to change depending on perspective. He explores his subjects in a non-traditional manner, drawing attention to the beauty that exists in areas where we do not expect to see it – controlling and redirecting focus through the framing of the image.
His photographs are beautifully and consciously composed and, through a range of techniques, cleverly blur the lines between quickly formulated impressions and a reality to be discovered. This is shown particularly in his interest of murals in derelict settings, which give an inititial impression of viewing an idyllic painting rather than a photograph. The images playfully distort reality, focussing on the beautiful while leaving the negative elements as 'distractions' to unsettle the viewer.
This metaphorivcally expresses a collective tendancy to neglect parts of society and to create false utopias. Murals become the battleground for society's perceptions - idealised scenes superimposed over neglect in a superficial attepmt to reclaim the space back into the mainstream.
Hartnett's omages of marginal spaces invoke the 'invisible' occupants of these areas, suggesting that ignoring these parts of society does not resolve underlying social issues. Through his art, Hartnett brings to the foregound those places we choose to hurry past, turning in on ourselves to shun these indicators of dereliction and creeping decay. His images are poignant reminders that careful observation and a reluctance to reject encounter are essential when seeking to attain enriched experiences and capture unexpected beauty.
Qualifications: Bachelor of Design in Photography, Unitec, Auckland
Diploma of Contemporary Photography, unitec, Auckland
Awards and Distinctions: F for Fake, group exhibition, Te Tuhi, Centre for the Arts, Manukau City, March 2009; The Metro Canon Young Photographers Awards - Winner Overall Best Single Image and Winner Student Category, Documentary Section (2006)
Articles: ‘Canon/Metro Young Photographers Award 2006’, Metro Magazine October 2006: 79, 82; Were, Virginia, ‘Fresh Blood’, Art News New Zealand 26(3), Spring 2006: 82-86 (Feature Article)