Todd McMillan

An emotional geography of swimming in this work by Todd McMillan, Australian artist, seen in Sydney at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Part of a show called: New matter: recent forms of photography is at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.  The exhibition featured work that was strong on materiality – the sense of photographs as objects to be observed rather than looked through.  McMillan’s piece is a watery view of an endurance performance, but also a connection to one of the earliest ‘fictional’ photographs.

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In both cases this is a created, fictional event.

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Hyppolyte Bayard, Self portrait as drowned man

Bayard wrote on the back of the photograph:

‘The corpse which you see here is that of M. Bayard, inventor of the process that has just been shown to you. As far as I know this indefatigable experimenter has been occupied for about three years with his discovery. The Government which has been only too generous to Monsieur Daguerre, has said it can do nothing for Monsieur Bayard, and the poor wretch has drowned himself. Oh the vagaries of human life….! … He has been at the morgue for several days, and no-one has recognized or claimed him. Ladies and gentlemen, you’d better pass along for fear of offending your sense of smell, for as you can observe, the face and hands of the gentleman are beginning to decay.’

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