Mitchell, an art student at the university contacted me and asked if he could interview me. He had an assignment to write a review of a current exhibition and he told me that he liked to write about mine. And he did.
What is the purpose of photography? Are photographs merely two dimensional reference materials from which we identify people, objects and places of the past – tools that tell us details of our world indifferent to human sentimentality? Or do they posses within themselves individual interpretations? Can they offer us more? Can they disarm our sensory control and ignite within us feelings that challenge our rational thought and grant us the kind of experiences often submerged under the silence of dreaming?
These are some of the questions that you may find yourself thinking after viewing Melbourne based Photographer Annevi Petersson’s series Let it Fall, currently on exhibition at The Brunswick Street Gallery.
The twelve photos are hypnotic, involving the expressions of movement detained underwater, elegantly captured using only muted blue colours. They are haunting and dramatic without being overdone and mysterious in the way each shot has been captured without being overbearing. They are all simply numbered and are hung in a grid formation rather than side by side, which surprisingly works well without making them seem too cluttered. Although this is the case, sadly the space given to this series isn’t near enough; each individual image could easily command an entire wall, more likely giving the viewer an even better appreciation of each.
Photographs like 8 and 12 cleverly use illusion which completely de-rails the viewer’s sense of distinction between underwater and the surface. Annevi has also very effectively hidden the features of the face so as not to distract from the complete composition, where in some, the difference between the reflection and the actual body become less identifiable. The narrative by Annevi, written on the plaque next to the photographs is simple yet powerful, acting almost as a meditation, guiding the senses to fully absorb the almost overwhelming experience silently pulsating within each photograph.
Annevi’s ideas and technique with this type of photography is certainly unique and while there are no obvious influences for the Let it Fall series, some links may be seen in the underwater work of contemporary artists like Narelle Autio and Trent Parke. Annevi said she was interested in the dying Ophelia mythology, with the Let it Fall series exploring instead the idea of Ophelia fighting and choosing to live. While some may see the photographs as being too dark, Annevi sees them as being the complete opposite saying the series is a journey “from the darkness, stillness and despair, to the fight, attitude and courage to live and also the joy of life”.
Annevi has said of her work that she doesn’t “like to tell what the reader or audience is suppose to feel; I think that is very much to insult the reader. What I hope to do is to create a mood, a feeling that stays with them that they can reflect upon.” This is a real strength, especially for works like Let it Fall, because you do not necessarily need to understand the metaphoric, mythical or even existential overtones in order to enjoy the simple beauty of each photograph. Good advice would be to first read the narrative, then allow yourself to be absorbed by the pictures, to feel weightless with them and in that moment, leave the world behind.
Thank you Mitchell! (published with consent)
Related post: Let It Fall