Cover image of the review
Jane Burton, Kingdom of Pleasure (#1), 2022, Ambrotype -- wet plate collodion on black glass, 25.5 cm x 25.5 cm. Image courtesy of the artist.

Jane Burton, Kingdom of Pleasure

27 Aug 2022
Linden New Art 4 Aug - 4 Sep 2022

Jane Burton’s introductory statement to her exhibition of stunning, tenebrous ambrotypes, Kingdom of Pleasure, perfectly prepares the viewer for their voyage through the fog of photographic memory to the hazy, coastal gothic foreshore of St Kilda’s Luna Park. Burton describes her first encounter with the festive centre:

As a child from the country, I encountered it as a phantasmagorical realm rising through briny sea fog, fringed by exotic palm trees. Upon entering through the great, devouring mouth, as if into an Underworld; shrieks and clatter emanating from the Scenic Railway drifted on the salty night air.

Appropriately exhibited a few streets away in the Acland Street project space of Linden New Art, Burton’s show consists of thirteen ambrotypes—-an appropriate number considering the bewitched atmosphere of each self-described “night-dream”. This mood is enhanced by the high contrast black-and-white exposure of each image, titled simply by number, complimented by the equally dark frames that encase them. The install sensitively uses lighting necessary to accommodate the glossy surfaces without any blow-out, while also giving the viewer a sneaky reflection of themselves. Some photographs are paired, creating a sense of “doubling”. This is just one of the gothic tropes (think Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) present in the exhibition, which explore themes of childhood and the carnivalesque within an undeniably spectral environment. This presence is palpable in the night scene of ambrotypes #4 and #5 that depict, at a distance, a pale girl standing beneath a lamppost’s glow. The scene is backdropped by Luna Park’s scenic railway, a ghostly apparition foregrounded by the darkened silhouettes of St Kilda’s palm trees.

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