With its moving landscapes and famously independent cultural traditions, Australia is uniquely suited to having its national narrative told through visual documentation. Helen Ennis gathers here a selection of photographs that recount the story of Australia, and through this visual chronicle she uncovers a distinctively Australian visual culture. The striking images featured in "Photography and Australia", in the new "Exposures" series, documents the iconic sights of the rugged Australian landscape such as the imposing Uluru, or Ayers Rock, as well as documentary photographs, wilderness shots, post-mortem studies of bush rangers and other images both quotidian and extraordinary. A leading Australian photography historian, Ennis argues that the colonial experience is a central element of these visual testaments, and embedded within this experience are the tumultuous relations between white settlers and Aboriginal people.
Her analysis explores how the photographs reveal the racial, social and political tensions woven throughout Australian history, ranging from modern works by Aboriginal photographers to archival photographs of desolate mining towns and the peoples who eked out their living from the brutal terrain. The photographers' personal perspectives are also embedded in the images, "Photography and Australia" argues, and the book examines how photographers' responses to place, modernity and globalization were expressed through their works. "Photography and Australia" unearths an original and engaging perspective on Australian history, weaving a wealth of images into a compelling, informative account.
Helen Ennis is Senior Lecturer in Art Theory at the Australian National University School of Art. She was the former Curator of Photography at the National Gallery of Australia and has also independently curated exhibitions at the National Portrait Gallery, the National Library of Australia, and the Art Gallery of New South Wales. She is also the author of Margaret Michaelis: Love, Loss, and Photography (2005) and Intersections: Photography, History, and the National Library of Australia (2004).