It is near impossible to stand unmoved by A Gallery’s current exhibition. Perth-based artist Justin Spiers is a photographer with the capacity to translate intellectual conceptions into visual metaphors with rare fluency.
The subject-matter of his collection is animals in captivity and the discussion is the space between the viewer and the viewed. The photographs are in both grey-scale and colour, and the compositions are succinct and textural: the panda is soft, the crocodile is scaly, and the concrete is disturbingly cold. Exotic animals and the enclosures they occupy are viewed up close through tarnished glass and desolate caging, drawing attention to the paltry surfaces that convert spirited creatures into vulnerable objects.
Spiers uses the camera to expose the screens we build to cushion our objectification and brutal oppression of the natural world. By way of accentuating the structures through which we unwittingly look, he underlines the frequently unnoticed artifice of photography and the staggeringly asymmetrical division of power which accompanies it. His poetic works may be delicate and sensitive in presentation but the sentiment exposed is more commanding than a tank in a field of dandelions. This artist’s visual vocabulary is an indication of his insight and A Gallery’s formatting neatly buttresses its expression.