Trent Parke Essay

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Lyn Carlin IMAGE – WHITE MAN TRENT PARKE TAKEN FROM THE SERIES DREAM/LIFE AND BEYOND 1999 The work of Trent Parke engages the viewer in a poignant commentary on Australian life that suggests we respond, not by intellect but rather by emotion, drawing us into a fantastical vision of a society searching for an identity within a multicultural maelstrom. The image White Man visually isolates a central figure, symbolizing the endemic problems of twenty-first century Australia and the struggle with our ethnically evolving and uncertain self-image. Parke photographs emotively and claims his work is fictional, a product of dreams and nightmares. He leaves it to the observer to draw their own conclusions, however, in the context of his series Dream Life and Beyond, White Man and other works focus on themes and ideas that convey much deeper and more complex meanings. Trent Parke, White Man, Dream Life and Beyond 1999 Reflection on Trent Parke’s wider body of work is necessary, particularly to formulate an understanding of the artist’s exposé of metropolitan Sydney —Dream Life. A later work Minutes to Midnight; a fictional documentary; a juxtaposition set in the outback of Australia -further elaborates on social portraits as well as iconic Australian scenes. Both essays are technically similar, the same stark, high contrast photographs, trademark ‘chiaroscuro’ style, and attention to detail. He cleverly illustrates by technically isolating his subjects from the background with the ingenious use of light. Whether cityscape or rural, he evokes themes of loneliness, desperation and poverty. Some are confronting images to digest. Both works are very much viscerally motivated: furthermore, Parke asks the viewer to draw conclusions from their own life experiences : to enable them

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