Exhibition review: The Road at MGA


Monash Gallery of Art, Wheelers Hill. Victoria
until 31 August 2014

The ‘road’ has long been the subject of artistic expression, a symbol of the physical and allegorical paths we follow. In this group exhibition featuring eight artists – Micky Allan, Virginia Coventry, Gerrit Fokkema, John Gollings, Tim Handfield, Ian North, Robert Rooney, Wes Stacey – the archives of the Monash Gallery of Art have been mined to uncover works taken in the 1970s and 1980s. These photographs examine the meaning of the road in modern Australian life through the exploration of the relationship of photography and the experience of road travel.

MGA Curator Stephen Zagala says, “The road has often provided Australian photographers with a means to an end, whether a landscape or a picturesque community in some distant part of the country. But as this important exhibition shows, during the 1970s, the road took on a whole new meaning for Australian photographers. It provided a space for innovation and experimentation, and also a photographic reconsideration of Australian life.”

The exhibition features Wes Stacey’s visual travelogue of the trips he made in the early seventies around Australia in a Kombi. “The Road” also includes John Gollings’s monumental, ten-metre long streetscapes of Surfers Paradise Boulevard from 1973, and Robert Rooney’s iconic Holden park, featuring Rooney’s Holden parked in 20 different locations across Melbourne. “The Road” also features work by “two of Australia’s most important feminist photographers, Micky Allan and Virginia Coventry, who both challenged many of the gendered assumptions about the road, automotive travel and Australian life during the ‘70s and ‘80s”.

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