Burn at Edmund Pearce


Greg Neville, Burn installation at Edmund Pearce gallery

My new solo exhibition, Burn, has opened at Edmund Pearce gallery, Melbourne’s leading gallery of photography. This is my second showing there, after last year’s Chemistry of Chance with Greg Wayn.

The Burn images are from a magazine I found on the ground at the Flinders Street rail yards. At the time I was trying to make photographs of the lines created by overhead wires, gantries and rails. I happened to look down and see a burnt and weathered magazine left under a bush. It turned out to be a porn magazine but it seemed to have the texture and faded colour of an ancient relic.

The trashy content, the physical decay and the curious fact of its being set fire to made it an intriguing artefact. Was it burnt to destroy evidence of some private sin, or in a symbolic destruction of Woman?

Over the years I’ve photographed it several times trying to raise the decayed object to a higher plane. Eventually scanning produced an appealing softness and glow although that alone was not enough. Every specific area has been lightened or darkened and adjusted in contrast and saturation, so much that the images in the exhibition practically amount to paintings.

The Burn project is a further instalment in my work on entropy and disorder. I’m interested in these liminal states where decay is nearing the point of abstraction and new images and meanings arise out of the old. The tears and ruptures in Burn constitute a new image, equivalent in beauty to the bodies and faces, and forming a commentary on them.

It’s the arrow of time, entropy’s other name. All organised structures end in disorder: a magazine, a photograph, or a body. It is a melancholy thought that time is at work on the bodies represented in the magazine, itself now twenty years old.


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