The absurdity of taking photos of photographic artworks was not lost on me as I did it, but I felt compeled. I knew I wanted to talk about Emidio Puglielli's exhibition on my blog and I'm not particularly comfortable with words and no pictures.
To be clear - Emidio is a friend and I know he reads my blog (hi Em), but I do, so very much, admire his work.
Over the past couple of years I have attended quite a few of Emidio's exhibitions and have often had the good fortune to have the artist with me to talk about his interests. Through this manner, my understanding of his intent has grown and I love that contemplation and time is required to fully appreciate the artworks' inherent value.
I can't describe what it is Emidio does with photos any better than the official exhibition description, so have included it below. What I can say, however, is that when I look at Em's art I become acutely aware of so much more than the subject matter alone. The works manage to simultaneoulsy bring into focus the subject and location, the photographer, a sense of memory, emotional belonging or perhaps detachment and even the materiality of the photograph itself. The actual photos become a distinct lesson on the power of the object.
"Emidio is a Melbourne based artist and curator. His work investigates the relationship we have with photographs. Emidio’s main interest is in reflexive and non-representational photography. He holds a Masters degree from the University of Tasmania and has exhibited widely including CAST Hobart, CCNO Brussels, Sydney Non Objective Projects, CCP and Conical Melbourne and QCP Brisbane. Emidio has a keen interest in old photographs and their continued resonance in contemporary society. He collects vernacular photographs to use and re-image in his work. The main focus is with the relationship between the materiality of a photograph and its image, in particular how the reading of the image changes when the material is damaged. He highlights the construct of the photographic illusion by drawing attention to the surface (front and back) and its structure. He addresses the photograph as an object and uses it as a subject. The work uses the matter of photographs including any text found on their reverse side to interrupt the pull of the image. Strategies used include presenting front and back simultaneously, sandpapering and applying fields of map pins.
Looking through a photograph compresses spatial and temporal elements to produce a new document of a photograph and its subject. Sand papering engages the surface of a photograph, erasing the original image and replacing it with another image. Map pins signify a place of importance and sticking them through a photograph reminds us that the moment photographed was at some point important to someone. These devices also confound the usual way we address a photograph and make us think about the object in front of us and all that it is imbued with. The work is reflexive. It points to itself to question what it is that photographs are and what they do to and for us."
Emidio Puglielli's exhibition Photoworks runs to 15 May, at the Stephen McLaughlin Gallery in the Nicholas Building in Melbourne. Of course I encourage all to visit and experience the works for themselves.
And if you are in the mood to lose yourself in the memories of strangers you can also visit his blog - a online archive of his constantly expanding photo collection.