Exhibition: Turrangka…in the shadows – James Tylor

Exhibition: Turrangka…in the shadows – James Tylor

‘Multi-disciplinary artist James Tylor combines historical and contemporary photographic processes to explore his Nunga (Kaurna Miyurna), Māori (Te Arawa) and European (English, Scottish, Irish, Dutch and Norwegian) ancestry. 

‘Turrangka…in the shadows’ surveys a decade of Tylor’s practice and, for the first time, brings together the most comprehensive selection of his unique daguerreotypes, expansive digital photographic series, hand-made Kaurna cultural objects, and furniture. The exhibition title is drawn from a Kaurna word, highlighting a significant ongoing aspect of Tylor’s practice: the learning and sharing of his Indigenous language. As well as shadow, turra also translates to reflection, image, and mirror. 

At the core of Tylor’s practice is a continuously innovative programme of photographic intervention, disrupting the image to redact or highlight visual information. He systematically alters the reading of Country by excising information from the photographic print or inscribing language and place-names onto the surface of his daguerreotypes. These photographs provide a glimpse into Tylor’s broader practice of recreating Kaurna cultural artefacts, architecture, and ephemera. Antiquated analogue photographic processes including Becquerel daguerreotypes and hand-tinting are also used to generate a new archive of pseudo-historical images. Tylor’s recreations point to the absence of these images from the hegemonic depiction of colonial Australia’s visual history. 

These strategies are at the service of exploring the suppression and erasure of Aboriginal cultural history from the Australian landscape through the ongoing legacy of colonialism. Tylor considers his actions of learning Kaurna language and reviving culture on Country as a means of repatriation. ‘Turrangka…in the shadows’ looks at the complex interplay of techniques and the incisive observations on Australia’s fraught his- tory that characterise Tylor’s prolific and profound artistic practice.’ CCP media release.

Photograph above: James Tylor, Terra Botanica I (Eucalyptus leucoxylon) 2015, Becquerel daguerreotype, 24 x 18.9 cm. Courtesy the artist, Vivien Anderson Gallery, Melbourne, GAGPROJECTS | Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide and N.Smith.Gallery, Sydney. Copyright the artist.

Centre for Contemporary Photography. Fitzroy. 22 September – 12 November 2023.

James Tylor. Un-resettling (Scar Tree) 2016, Handcoloured digital print, 50 x 50 cm. Courtesy the artist, Vivien Anderson Gallery, Melbourne, GAGPROJECTS | Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide and N.Smith.Gallery, Sydney. Copyright the artist.
James Tylor, Kaurna people, in his studio, work in progress, Kamberri/ Canberra, 2021. Image courtesy the artist. Copyright the artist.
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This article was written by

David Tatnall is an Australian fine art photographer & editor of View Camera Australia.

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