Queensland College of Art celebrate 50 years of photography

Queensland College of Art (QCA) is celebrating the richness and diversity of five decades of photography with an exhibition featuring QCA alumni across its galleries this week.

Launched on Monday 1 August, the exhibition Persona explores the use of photography as a conduit for storytelling, truth telling, celebrating diversity, and exploring one of the most complex questions we face: What does it mean to be human?

Self-identity, the self as other, the diasporic self, the non- human self, and the physical metaphysical self are all explored as self-highlights of identity fluidity.

The exhibition demonstrates a visual depiction of a changing historical narrative by empowering the subject to reclaim the gaze and often turning the camera on themselves or giving agency to the subject or object of the photograph, allowing them to control the narrative, speak their truth, and tell their stories way, through their eyes.

The exhibition celebrates a long, well documented history of photographers from the Queensland College of Art that has seen the world through their own lens, always questioning and trying to depict the most human elements of our existence.

The selected artists span a great legacy of QCA photographers, from well-known alumni as Tracey Moffatt and Dean West to current students Swade Ferguson and Tilly Grootenboer.

QCA Galleries Manager, Nicola Holly said that this is the first time that all four QCA Galleries spaces have held one exhibition.

“We are incredibly proud to show such a strong body of photographic practice at QCA Galleries. We know that traditionally, photography captures a moment in time but through this exhibition, we hope to capture and show so much more,” Ms Holly said.

The collection of works was curated with the intention to make visible those historically invisible in mainstream society or giving voice to ideologies and issues often unheard creates a safe space for these unheard voices.

Curator Henri Van Noordenburg said by capturing the essence of people’s ways of knowing, being and doing and their innate connection to place, the exhibition was very emotive.

“Persona is giving inanimate objects a voice and portraying the absent, often in a surreal, quirky and playful way, and questioning notions of the authentic self, leaves the viewer to question whether this is real life or is this fantasy.”

“How rare this opportunity is to gather together such a caliber of artistic folk whilst celebrating QCA Photography’s first 50 years?”

With 50 years of photography education and practice to draw upon, Henri said that curating the show was a difficult task, but also a very rewarding experience.

The exhibition was also assisted by the inaugural QCA Galleries interns Liam Johnson and Imogen Corbett who have been working Persona since Trimester One this year.

“It’s great to be able to offer current Griffith University students further learning and professional practice opportunities as part of this exhibition,” Ms Holly said.

The show runs from August 1 – 13 August 2022 at The Webb, Project, and Grey Street Galleries at 226 Grey Street, South Bank and extends to POP Gallery 381 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley. The opening event takes place at QCA South Bank on Thursday, 4th August from 6pm with a special performance by The Huxleys.