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Aaron Seeto
Fortress (Returning Finger #1), 2011
from Fortress
13 x 10cm
edition of 1 + 1AP

Aaron Seeto »


Exhibition: – 14 May 2011

Stills Gallery

36 Gosbell Street . Paddington
NSW 2021 Sydney

+61 2-93317775


Wed-Sat 11-17

Aaron Seeto

Aaron Seeto

13 April to 14 May 2011

For the last decade Aaron Seeto has been interested in archives, in particular family photo albums and other photographic records. This interest is mostly based upon a desire to make visible the alternate historical positions and experiences of families such as his own Chinese-Australian one. He is interested in the malleability of the narratives, which surround archive records - how images degrade, how stories are formed and privileged, how knowledge and history is written. In recent bodies of work exhibited here Fortress and Oblivion, Seeto has utlilised the daguerreotype, one of the earliest and most primitive photographic techniques. Not only is the chemical process itself highly toxic and temperamental but the daguerreotype’s mirrored surface means the image appears as both positive and negative, depending on the angle of view. For Seeto, this mutability captures the essence of our experience of history and memory.

In Fortress Seeto presents a series of daguerreotype photographs that use images of the artists' own body connecting in physically impossible ways. Body parts are mirrored and repeated in absurd combinations. These errant double fingers and replicating heads seem like specimens from a science experiment gone wrong and recall the early understanding of photography as document and fact. At the same time there is a hint of theatricality and magic about these works, perhaps also suggesting that ‘self’ is as slippery as a concept as ‘truth’. The 3 channel video work Fortress, included in the exhibition, was produced in collaboration with Seeto’s family. The video isn't a portrait of his family, as much as it's a portrait of a space. Fruit trees, patio, grass, a red brick house – this generic image of suburbia is given a nostalgic and mysterious treatment. Fortress is based on questioning how to articulate or write a history of day-to-day experiences, especially those experiences that exist outside of the cultural and social mainstream. Who controls and what is controlled? Who protects and what or who is protected?

Also exhibited will be works from Seeto’s ongoing series Oblivion in which he sourced details from images of the Cronulla riots of 2005 found on the internet. In reproducing these as daguerrotypes he seeks less to represent the incident than to look at how it was reported, understood and remembered. The instability of the virtual information found online is echoed in the photographic process.

Aaron Seeto studied at Wollongong University and in 2006 he received an Australia Council grant to attend the International Studio and Curatorial Program in New York City. He has exhibited in contemporary art spaces in Australia, New Zealand, New York and Europe, including the Robert McDougall Gallery, Christchurch, New Zealand as part of Scape Biennial 2004; Lokaal01 in Breda, The Netherlands, 2007; Gallery Korea, New York City, 2006; the Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne, 2005; the Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney, 2009; Hazelhurst Regional Gallery, 2010; and the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra 2010. He is the Director of the Asia-Australia Arts Centre/Gallery 4A, Sydney. Curating is a key element of his practice. Recent curatorial projects include News from Islands an Asia-Pacific survey at the Campbelltown Arts Centre (2007); Otherworldsothernews, Starkwhite, Auckland NZ (2007) and Primavera at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2006).