Light and bleakness – Luminous Cities
Words: Meisy Cheong
There is something so wonderfully nostalgic about looking at photographs of a time so far removed, it only exists in history books, Hollywood films and our own imaginations. These photographs of the past conjure the desire to be swept away from the fray of our daily lives and be transported to a time and place deep within the archives of bygone years.
After viewing old photographs of New York City for an article, the National Gallery of Victoria’s curator of photography, Susan van Wyk, began to wonder how cities were presented and how they operated at different points in time. As a result, the NGV’s new photography exhibition, Luminous Cities, was born.
Focusing on Ancient, Industrial, pre-Depression and the Interwar and Modern ages, Luminous Cities chronologically explores the relationship between humanity and the built environment. Since the emergence of the city in the 19th century, the photographer has played an integral role within this relationship as the historian and artist, interpreting and documenting the concept of the city and urban life in an architectural, anthropological and cultural context.
Thumbnail caption: Grant Mudford, born Australia 1944, lived in United States 1977-, New York 1975, gelatin silver photograph, 33.8 x 49.8 cm, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Purchased from Admission Funds, 1988.
Images copyright NGV.