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Spanish photography's coming of age

3 March 2005

Spanish photography's coming of age

The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery presents Antirrealismos: Spanish photomedia now, opening 12 March - 1 May 2005. You won't find here the hackneyed clichés: fiestas, bullfights, quaint religious festivals and baroque excess. What you will discover is an imaginative new direction in the work of 16 of Spain's leading contemporary photo and video artists.

For many years, Spanish photo and video work has remained firmly rooted in the traditional photographic forms of documentary, photojournalism, travel photography and portraiture. After 40 years of dictatorship, Spain's cultural catch-up with the other countries in Europe has come about precisely when photography and video have come of age, becoming the media of the moment across the international stage.

Antirrealismos escapes everyday, unadorned reality by addressing the more wide-ranging approach adopted by a group of new artists whose work displays the fresh vitality and power of expression emerging in Spanish photographic practice today. Divided under several conceptual directions the work in the exhibition emphasises the contemporary situation that is not only confined to Spain, but is a common state worldwide. The combined impact of consumerism, urban sprawl and the changing socio-political climate on personal identity, leads to the creation of works which are made up of fragments of all these aspects of contemporary life.

Antirrealismos explores the boundless possibilities of staged photography and its performative nature, its relationship to painting and sculpture, the celebration of fashion and subculture, the rise of narrative and the shift from 'objectivity' to the self-referential. Indeed, one might venture to say that this group of artists uses photography and video in a specifically anti-documentary way.

Antirrealismos: Spanish photomedia is curated by Paco Barragán, an independent writer and curator based in Madrid. The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery is the only New Zealand venue for this touring exhibition in association with the Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney.


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