Alison StievenTaylor

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 (she died in 2003). This lack of physical evidence presented a challenge for biographer Helen Ennis, a former curator of photography at the National Gallery of Australia and an art historian, who has nonetheless managed to weave a compelling, if at times diaphanous, narrative.

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Water

Alison Stieven-Taylor
Wednesday, 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 on the ways that water impacts our lives, as individuals, communities, and more broadly as co-inhabitants of an increasingly fragile planet.

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2019 Arts Highlights of the Year

Robyn Archer et al.
Thursday, 24 October 2019

To celebrate the year’s memorable plays, films, television, music, operas, dance, and exhibitions, we invited a number of arts professionals and critics to nominate their favourites. 

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Civilization: The Way We Live Now

Alison Stieven-Taylor
Monday, 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 ...

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

Alison Stieven-Taylor
Wednesday, 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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ... 

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

Alison Stieven-Taylor
Tuesday, 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 ...

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