Talking Pictures

Fitts & Holderness, Nicholas Mangan, Louise Menzies, Sean Rafferty

Curated by Melanie Oliver

Exhibition Dates
20 April - 22 May 2011



Artist Discussion
| Wednesday 20 April, 5pm
Location | Artspace, Level 2, Seminar Room



Talking Pictures features artists from Australia and New Zealand who utilise archival documents and obsolete technologies to present fragmented cinematic narratives. Fitts & Holderness, Nicholas Mangan, Louise Menzies and Sean Rafferty relate stories through the collation of materials, referencing particular histories and conventions of film. Mingling rumour and fabrication with appropriated forms, they comment on contemporary issues through reconsidering the past. Inviting slippages and contradiction to inhabit their work ensures the acts of storytelling and historiography are implicit components, at once deploying and unravelling their cautionary tales.  


An interest in archives and history is common to recent practices that have attempted to invoke ghostly mediums through appropriation, rather than assuming outdated objects exist as dead commodities. Temporality is no longer understood as linear; history is in the present. Layering images, objects and discourse, these artists trace specific, multiple or alternative histories. Fitts & Holderness present research on various unsolved disappearances; Mangan explores cycles of destruction and reproduction in relation to the Walter Burley Griffin Pyrmont Incinerator; Menzies draws together the story of the Éclair NPR film camera and Chinese-Tahitian New Zealander Teva Chonon; and Rafferty charts the unfulfilled desire intrinsic to the road film.  


The possibilities for narrative expression in cinema significantly expanded with the 1920s development of ‘talking pictures’, synchronised sound and moving image technology, that meant written text subtitles could be replaced with noise and dialogue. In the exhibition Talking Pictures, the style and structures typical of Hollywood are circumvented in favour of the methods and ethos of independent cinema, such as French New Wave or the road movie genre. The artists offer projects that complicate the relationship between image and text, revealing that it is through disparate and conflicting fragments of experience that we understand our lives.

  • Sean Rafferty, 'Fugitive Dreams (Road Pictures)', installation view, Artspace, Sydney, 2011

  • Fitts & Holderness, 'The Watchman of Okains Bay', with Erin Scudder, installation view, Artspace, Sydney, 2011

  • Fitts & Holderness, 'Ása Ragnarsdóttir: Six interviews in Reykjavik', installation view, Artspace, Sydney, 2011

  • Fitts & Holderness, 'Operation Tully: A documentary (on the undercover work and disappearance of Garth Mayhew)', installation view, Artspace, Sydney, 2011

  • Nicholas Mangan, 'Some kinds of duration, installation view', Artspace, Sydney, 2011

  • Louise Menzies, 'Everything put to use, installation view, Artspace', Sydney, 2011