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Alison Stieven-Taylor

Alison Stieven-Taylor

Alison Stieven-Taylor is an international commentator and journalist specialising in photography and specifically social documentary. She writes for various newspapers and magazines and publishes the blog Photojournalism Now. She has written two books, including Rock Chicks: The hottest female rockers from the 1960s to now (Second Edition, Rockpool Publishing, 2011). Presently a lecturer in journalism at Monash University, Alison is also writing her PhD on photography as social change. 

'Photography: Real and Imagined: An ambitious new exhibition at NGV' by Alison Stieven-Taylor

ABR Arts 24 October 2023
Photography has held humanity in its thrall since its nascent years. Celebrated and contested, the photograph is said to have inherent power, making it both a vital, and also dangerous, medium. This exceptional and ambitious new exhibition at the NGV, Photography: Real and Imagined, illuminates why we have an unwavering fascination. From the moment we enter ‘Light’ until exiting through ‘Dea ... (read more)

'Linda McCartney: Retrospective': A gateway into a private, inner world

ABR Arts 15 November 2021
As the author of Rock Chicks: The hottest female rockers from the 1960s to now (2011), I was excited to plunge back into the world of rock and roll to review the Linda McCartney retrospective that is currently showing at the Art Gallery of Ballarat. I’ve also written about Paul McCartney and John Lennon, so am quite familiar with these lads from Liverpool. ... (read more)

Alison Stieven-Taylor reviews 'Olive Cotton: A life in photography' by Helen Ennis

January–February 2020, no. 418 16 December 2019
A lover of photography since childhood, by the time Olive Cotton, who was born in Sydney in 1911, was in her twenties she was already creating the pictures that were to define her as one of Australia’s foremost women photographers, although this would not be acknowledged until the 1980s. Apart from the photographs she made, Cotton left little material trace of a life that spanned nine decades (s ... (read more)

Water (Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art)

ABR Arts 11 December 2019
Water. Life on earth can’t exist without it, but beyond the perfunctory, how often do we think about this essential element or about our relationship to it? This is the question at the heart of the blockbuster exhibition Water at the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA). Through literal and allegorical renderings about water in its various incarnations, the exhibition invites contemplation ... (read more)

Civilization: The Way We Live Now (National Gallery of Victoria)

ABR Arts 16 September 2019
In the age of the image, photography being omnipresent, what can pictures tell us about ourselves as individuals and about the human race? What does an image of the constructed world reveal about our relationship to one another? Does our pursuit of tomorrow render the present expendable? Has avariciousness, the lust for the new, for more of everything, consumed the consumer? Are our ever-expanding ... (read more)

Juno Gemes: The Quiet Activist, A Survey Exhibition 1979–2019

ABR Arts 15 May 2019
In some ways, the title of this forty-year survey is at odds with Juno Gemes herself. There is nothing quiet about Gemes’s vision or her passion for telling stories that challenge preconceptions and cultural norms. Perhaps where the notion of ‘quiet’ comes from is in her subtle narratives, which are wrapped in concepts of the ordinary. Then there are images that leave no doubt about the arti ... (read more)

Ballenesque, Roger Ballen: A Retrospective (GAGPROJECTS/Adelaide Festival)

ABR Arts 05 March 2019
Roger Ballen’s art is not for the faint-hearted; it is confronting, haunting, and at times repellent. It is also fascinating, brilliant, and jaw-dropping. These images seethe with malodorous discontent, menace, and psychosis. The best way to experience his photographs is to surrender and resist the desire to read the images literally, for it is in the hidden recesses of the imagination that Ball ... (read more)

Alison Stieven-Taylor reviews 'Visualising Human Rights' edited by Jane Lydon

March 2019, no. 409 22 February 2019
How do you visually portray a concept like human rights? Much of the scholarship around this question focuses on the idea that to understand what human rights might look like, we have to visualise life without them. Historically, photography has played a significant role in exposing violations of human rights to a mass audience. Images of King Leopold of Belgium’s vicious rule of the Congo in th ... (read more)

David Goldblatt: Photographs 1948–2018 (Museum of Contemporary Art)

ABR Arts 13 November 2018
Perhaps the best way to influence the thoughts of another is to do so without intent. South African photographer David Goldblatt once said he did not believe that ‘any photograph of mine would ever influence anybody in the slightest degree’. Yet his photographs of his country’s apartheid era reach down into the very heart of human existence to invite us to look at ourselves, at our values, a ... (read more)