Down Home brings together the work of four photographers addressing narratives of home; familial interactions, household artefacts, the domestic and the suburban. Through their varied practices, Kevin Capon, Young Sun Han, PJ Paterson and Jane Zusters demonstrate how close studies of the everyday can lead to quiet revelations.
Kevin Capon’s deadpan aesthetic presents everyday objects in the highly-produced, studio style associated with commercial product photography. Elevating the mundane, Capon instils a sense of unnerving anxiety into his images, creating moments of ‘simmering suburban tension.’ A sewing machine glows with unexpected heroism; an open door becomes a psychologically-charged icon. In Aquarium, goldfish are immobilised in a tank where the boundaries are invisible; their sense of isolation and vulnerability edges on muted terror.
Young Sun Han’s series of intimate portraits depict same-sex couples in their homes, using historical conventions of domestic portraiture to gently provoke and illuminate discourse around queer politics. Images appear simultaneously candid and staged; deliberately composed figures and props in unmistakably personal spaces highlight divisions between public and private. The viewer takes on a voyeuristic role, glimpsing tender, ordinary moments. In the face of the newly passed marriage equality bill in New Zealand, ‘Han’s images seem to shimmer with renewed relevance – are queer couples playacting a misguided mimesis of heterosexuality or are they gaining equality whilst maintaining their important differences? Han’s images show quiet domestic moments that depict this complexity without didacticism.’
PJ Paterson’s digitally collaged photographs reveal an amplified urban sprawl, as the artist pokes fun and forces viewers to examine the disturbing aesthetics of suburbia. Familiar scenes become the starting point for Paterson’s exaggerated structures; rising from urban landscapes like temples to industrialism, these are unsettling in their feasibility. Images like Stonefields – a weirdly recognisable vision of the Auckland sub-division – offer antithesis to ‘the dream of progress … capturing the dystopian outcome of Modernist overreach.’
In Jane Zuster’s latest series At Home in Christchurch 2012, conventional divisions are in collapse as a result of the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. Structure has completely disappeared in this series of digital photographs, capturing an overwhelming sense of displacement and impermanence. Interior scenes range from the abandoned to the familiarly kitsch, each one existing within realities of tragedy, upheaval, and disaster. ‘Home’ offers no sanctuary for unseen occupants in these confronting juxtapositions, which describe the persistence of routine in the face of cataclysm. Zusters conveys ‘a tangible sense of despair, but also a circularity and remembrance that things pass and will return again … ‘
Greg Donson, Curator, Sarjeant Gallery, Whanganui (2011)
Henry Davidson, co-Curator, Window, Auckland (2013)
Jamie Hanton, Director, Blue Oyster Art Project Space, Dunedin (2013)
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