WITNESS by Murray Fredericks

WITNESS is an exhibition that combines the best of two series (ARRAY and VANITY) working with mirrors in remote, empty landscapes. It’s the first time any of these works have been shown in Sydney. The exhibition is the latest ‘cycle’ in award-winning Australian artist Murray Fredericks’ 16-year SALT Project. The abstract landscapes continue the artist’s emotional engagement with Kati Thanda (Lake Eyre), South Australia.

© Murray Fredericks. Array 12 (Venus Jupiter), 2018. Digital pigment print on cotton rag, 120 x 165 cm.
© Murray Fredericks. Array 12 (Venus Jupiter), 2018. Digital pigment print on cotton rag, 120 x 165 cm.

Standing in the silken water, surrounded only by a boundless horizon, I sense a release, a surrendering as the self dissolves into the light and space.
- Murray Fredericks

WITNESS continues Murray Fredericks’ deep relationship with Lake Eyre and his intrepid pursuit to understand the overwhelming emptiness and powerful emotional resonance of remote land and sky. Camping alone for weeks at a time, Fredericks’ spiritual and mental experience of this environment is encapsulated in his immersive abstract landscapes that bear WITNESS to the transcendent capacity of light, colour, and space.

© Murray Fredericks. Mirror 25, 2017. Digital pigment print on cotton rag, 120 x 155 cm.
© Murray Fredericks. Mirror 25, 2017. Digital pigment print on cotton rag, 120 x 155 cm.

Comprised of two significant bodies of work, Vanity (2017) and Array (2018), WITNESS sees the artist intersect endless space through the ethereal reflective quality of mirrors. Rather than employing the mirror as a symbol of self-reflection, Fredericks redirects our gaze away from ourselves and into the immense environment. His translations of the landscape verge on otherworldly; reflections hover together as geometric forms, apertures or portals, offering a dual experience of looking both into another realm and out, as the lake’s glass-like surface mirrors an infinite space above. These works plunge the viewer into a mesmerising spatial gestalt as Fredericks dissolves the contours of the landscape into a limitless optical deception. Place is defined by boundless empty space.

© Murray Fredericks. Array 10, 2018. Digital pigment print on cotton rag, 120 x 175 cm.
© Murray Fredericks. Array 10, 2018. Digital pigment print on cotton rag, 120 x 175 cm.

By removing his/our reflection from the picture entirely, we are not the projected centre of the world. Fredericks subtly questions the narcissistic qualities of the human condition in the age of the Anthropocene, wherein human activity has become the overriding force on climate and the natural world. He casts our self/image adrift, so that we might be consumed by the sensory phenomena of light, colour and space on a visceral level, engaging another stratum of consciousness that echoes the artist’s own experience of living in solitude on the lake.

These works offer a release from the ever-present vanity, anxiety, and doomed search for perfection inherent in human nature as we confront the pure potentiality of the natural world itself. In this exhibition, Fredericks’ meditations on the immeasurable and unknown void that encompasses us offer a space in which to escape ourselves and WITNESS a moment of transcendence.

© Murray Fredericks. Mirror 19, 2017. Digital pigment print on cotton rag, 120 x 155 cm.
© Murray Fredericks. Mirror 19, 2017. Digital pigment print on cotton rag, 120 x 155 cm.

Both Vanity and Array are cycles of a much larger SALT project which, to date, comprises 23 trips to Lake Eyre since 2003. SALT has unintentionally become a truly epic project in time and scale as Fredericks is drawn again and again to the desolate, empty and infinite salt pan that is Lake Eyre.

ARRAY series

VANITY series

About the artist

Murray Fredericks is an internationally acclaimed and multi-award-winning photographer and filmmaker. Fredericks has exhibited widely, including Fotogra´fica Bogota´, Museum of Photography, Bogota, Colombia, 2017; Inside the Dome (DYE2) (with Tom Schutzinger), Geelong Gallery, 2015-16; SALT, Perc Tucker Regional Gallery, Townsville, 2016; a major Australian landscape survey exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, 2012; and two solo shows at the Australian Centre for Photography, 2010 and 2015 respectively.

© Murray Fredericks.
© Murray Fredericks.

His work has been acquired by prestigious public and private collections internationally, including the National Gallery of Victoria; Australian Parliament House; Australian National Portrait Gallery; Artbank; The Sir Elton John Collection; Macquarie Bank; Commonwealth Bank; The Myer Collection; The Valentino Collection; and a number of regional galleries across Australia. Fredericks has been the recipient of numerous awards and is a regular finalist in Australia’s top photography prizes.

In 2015, he received the People’s Choice Award for the Bowness Photography Prize, was runner up in the Head-On Festival Landscape Prize and a finalist in the JUWS Photography Award. His first documentary film, Salt, for which he was cinematographer and co-director, won twelve major international awards, played over 50 festivals and was screened on the ABC and PBS in the USA.

© Murray Fredericks. Mirror 16, 2017. Digital pigment print on cotton rag, 120 x 155 cm.
© Murray Fredericks. Mirror 16, 2017. Digital pigment print on cotton rag, 120 x 155 cm.

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March

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April

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May

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