Title / object name
|Maker ||Role ||Date |
|Peryer, Peter ||photographer ||1979 |
black and white photograph, gelatin silver printMaterials
silver, photographic paper, photographic gelatin
|Image ||304 (Height) x 461 (Length) mm|
|Support ||304 (Height) x 461 (Length) mm|
black-and-white prints, gelatin silver prints, black-and-white photographs, works of art
This black and white image called My Parents was photographed by Peter Peryer in 1979. Two old photographs of Peryer's parents lean against the wall in an indeterminate space characterised by shadow and illusion. My Parents is characteristic of Peryer's photography in the late 1970s in its use of high contrast, which transforms the image into an ambiguous and highly charged scene.
Portraits and the past
In an artist's statement that accompanied an exhibition at Snaps Gallery, Auckland, in 1978, Peryer wrote: 'My photographs are self-portraits. The photographs are somehow related to my past. I don't know why or how.' My Parents, made the following year, takes the themes of memory, identity, and the past, and creates an iconic image. The sombre space of the photograph has the feeling of a monastic cell, or a recess of memory. The image is further charged by the ominous shadow to the left, suggestive of a metronome and thereby of time measured and marked off.
The power of photography
Photography is powerful because it has the ability to freeze time. Peryer repeats this process, emphasising it by re-photographing old photographs and thus doubly immortalising his subjects who will look this way forever inside Peryer's frozen tableau. The subject of My Parents is, then, the power of photography and the way it operates, rather than the parents who stare in opposite directions, away from the lens. This engagement with the nature of photography itself, while at the same time creating a memorable and disturbing image, is a mark of Peryer's work. As Peter Weiermair wrote in Second Nature: Peter Peryer, Photographer, New Zealand: 'Of central importance is Peryer's intention to create a few compelling archetypal images that go beyond the careless verbosity of contemporary photography - to create photographs as complex as good poems, which can be read again and again, and always differently.'