Cover image of the review
Morganna Magee, Kitchen Window, 2021. Part of the series Extraordinary Experiences(2020-ongoing). Inkjet prints.

Walking Through the Darkness

5 Aug 2023
Centre for Contemporary Photography (CCP) 21 Jul - 10 Sep 2023

Walking Through the Darkness at Centre for Contemporary Photography is a large exhibition with fifteen artists that looks at the role of darkness in the photographic medium. Referred to as the gallery’s “winter exhibition” and without visible curatorial credits, one first assumes that it was curated in-house. Although one may discover later that the press release includes a quote by Catlin Langford, who is referred to as the curator, yet not clearly identified as such for this exhibition (life’s a mystery). Under the premise of the camera as a witness, it brings together local and international artists working with suburbia, war, interpersonal trauma, and the non-human to encompass everything that is dark.

As an embarrassed member of the sadder than sad “Pirates of the Caribbean crowd,” as Lisa Radford would say, I’m perhaps the target audience for Walking Through the Darkness. Indeed, the exhibition unfolds against the backdrop of a renewed interest in an aesthetic of darkness, with various galleries staging exhibitions that explore these semantics, such as Verge Gallery’s Horror is Nothing Other Than Reality and ACCA’s upcoming From The Other Side, in response to a wider preoccupation with this theme in a culture riddled with anxiety (a “resurgence” of the cinematic genre of horror, as the press has called it since 2017). However, I find myself struggling to connect with this exhibition in a meaningful way; I have the common experience of feeling great respect for the artists’ individual practices (many touching on important, pressing, and sensitive subjects) but suspicion for the infrastructure that facilitates their showing. From the desire to fold disparate works into a single very general curatorial premise, to CCP’s oddly corporate looking premises (my urge to stain their walls is strong), the show’s framework is not promising.

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