Photography has long been uncomfortable with its very nature as a recording device. The same tangible connection to the subject that affords the photographic medium and process its singular charge – its requisite proximity and contact with its referent, and the direct inscription of light on celluloid or sensor – also presents its great anxiety. In a career stretching back to the 1990s, Melbourne artist Eliza Hutchison has worked to slice, shred, fold, mirror and sculpt photographic images, materials and surfaces to both activate and complicate the photograph’s chain of command.
The images that echo throughout her long-awaited debut book Family Photos – many of which came out of a residency at the Cité des Arts in Paris – both embrace and shatter their collective title. Prised from the swamp of Hutchison and her family’s wider history, present and semiconscious, they ricochet between intense intimacy and collective significance, applying photography’s indexical potential to the most ephemeral and malleable of moments. Here, she makes visible the turbulence of the psychological and the uncertainty and fallibility of memory.