The Space Between
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Research Background: The Art Gallery of Western Australia’s annual program is dedicated to displaying the work of Western Australian artists, WA Focus showcases recent and new work by local artists, selected to represent a mix of gender, experience and medium. This essay was written to support Juha Tolonen’s solo exhibition, Finlandisation. This is a series of landscape photographs that focus on the seemingly disparate landscapes of the Swan River hinterland and Lapland. While contrasts exist, Juha Tolonen's new work also displays a surprising continuity. Drawing from his adopted and ancestral homes of Australia and Finland his photographs reveal lands that are both alien and familiar. Arranged in diptychs and triptychs, multiple viewpoints are used to contrast or to expand a scene. Tolonen never quite settles on an iconic view, but instead surveys the land inviting us to seek out recognisable elements through content, composition and arrangement. Research Contribution: The essay, The Space Between, contributes to on-going debates surrounding objective landscape photography. This aesthetic tradition can be traced back to the seminal, New Topographics, exhibition of 1975. Recognized as ushering in a new approach to landscape photography, the exhibition referenced the sublime through man-altered landscapes instead of the more traditional, nature-based subject matter of photographers such as Ansell Adams. Speaking through Tolonen’s work, this essay was able to highlight a return to ‘natural’ subject matter whilst maintaining the objective aesthetic of the New Topographers. It also can be seen as a continuum of academic writing into the space between nature and culture from the perspective of belonging. Research Significance: Tolonen is a photographer, lecturer, researcher and writer. He is an Adjunct Lecturer at Edith Cowan University in Australia. His work has been exhibited in major photography galleries around Australia including Australian Centre for Photography in Sydney and Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne. His work has been exhibited internationally in the China Pingyao International Photography Festival. In 2012 he was awarded the biannual City of Perth Architectural Commission. In 2015 he was a Visiting Researcher at Aalto University in Helsinki, in the Department of Art. His work has been published in leading photography journals including Photofile. He is the co-author of Photography and Landscape published by Intellect Books. This essay represents unique critique and analysis of an important Australian artist who is recognised internationally as important within the tradition of photographing man-altered landscapes.
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