Vivid, complex and magical, the works in this exhibition abandon the traditional realm of the photographic – the real world – to conjure images of the fantastical. The result of highly skilled and detailed construction, these enchanted scenes are either created as theatrical settings and then photographed or pieced together from hundreds of photographic fragments.
The concept of ‘phantasia’ was proposed by the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle to describe the way the mind makes images of things not directly in front of the eye. These could be memories of real events, projections of what is happening out of sight or purely imaginative inventions. Writing at a time when art was considered not as an act of creation but as the knowledgeable execution of a set of skills, the word ‘phantasia’ suggests both that artistry flows from the activity of making, and that memory and imagination are parts of the same process. The life of the mind is a world of images whose potency is not constrained by whether they arise from real experience or pure fantasy.
In the dream-like narratives that run under Simon Strong’s work, the beginning and end of the story is never quite clear and the details are often obscured by the twilight. A vague unnatural menace is implied but never quite realised, suggesting itself through a field of glowing cabbages, steaming vegetation reclaiming a suburban home or rock formations suddenly appearing in the middle of a freeway.
‘I don’t feel so concerned anymore that my work needs to be immediately comprehensible. I’m consciously allowing concepts to evolve and develop in a less linear fashion. I’m enjoying the possibilities presented by a more enigmatic or mysterious tone...where you only get glimpses of what may be a more encompassing psycho-drama...’ Simon Strong
Australian Centre for Photography
All images appear courtesy of The Samstag Museum, Adelaide.