Free with Museum Pass
Up Close traces the significant legacy of Australian photographer Carol Jerrems (1949–1980) and situates her work alongside that of other photo-based artists – Larry Clark and Nan Goldin from New York and William Yang from Sydney. Sharing an interest in subcultural groups and individuals on the margins of society, each artist candidly portrays bohemian life of the 1970s and early 1980s. Their intimate depictions of people, places and events provide glimpses of semi-private worlds, amplifying the emotional tenor of the times.
An extensive display of Jerrems’s photographs includes Vale Street (1975), her iconic photograph of local teenagers; portraits taken for the landmark feminist publication A Book About Australian Women (1974); a suite of prints documenting life on campus at Macquarie University, Sydney; and a series she took in hospital while she was dying from a rare illness, including frank self-portraits. The exhibition also features little-known films and archival items including Jerrems’s personal writings and notebooks.
Complementing Jerrems’s photographs are Clark’s images of marginalised, delinquent youth from his Tulsa and Teenage Lust portfolios; Yang’s celebratory photographs of Sydney’s gay and artistic scenes in the 1970s; and Goldin’s The Ballad of Sexual Dependency (1981–1996), a projection of hundreds of slides that chronicle the lives of her friends, family and lovers, a work Goldin describes as ‘the diary I let people read’.
Forging a movement away from a detached style of documentary photography, these four artists express an intense, empathetic connection with their subjects. As Jerrems says: ʻAny portrait is a combination of something of the subject’s personality and something of the photographer’s. The moment preserved is an exchange; the photograph is the communication’.