Queen Elizabeth Drive
Gallery hours: Monday – Sunday 10 am to 5 pm
Events and public programs: www.acp.org.au
Over the last twenty years, photographer Rex Dupain has witnessed Bondi Beach’s popularity grow as a must-see tourist destination and location for reality television. It is a site where people, in all their diversity, are liberated from the pressures of work and social norms. Framed by the beach’s fine sands, Dupain’s portraits of families, lovers,icebergers and life savers resonate within the Australian psyche.
In the exhibition Sunscreen celebrities, Dupain is a global traveller uncovering the beach subcultures of Coney Island, Barcelona and Sorrento. Despite the changes in geographical backgrounds – pebbles, coarse sand or concrete – his depictions of people’s innate attraction to the water’s edge remains consistent. Vitality is not limited to Dupain’s mastering of light and colour, but is also evident in the self-awareness of his beachside idols. Whether it is a slight hand gesture, a languid pose or a torso flexed in motion, each subject is responding to the elements – sun, water, air and earth – on their skin. With the miniaturisation of digital camera technology and proliferation of social media into our everyday, the photographic image has become ubiquitous. Celebrity culture, online and in the media, promotes the idea of self-reflexivity and anyone with a mobile phone has the potential to be paparazzi. Dupain says this has offered his practice unexpected freedom:
‘Not so long ago candid photography was deemed unlawful. ‘Free range’ photographers, like myself, were restricted to photographing people under consensual agreements. So, the unrehearsed images that bought magic to gallery walls vanished. This hysteria has now cooled off thanks to the influx of the selfie generation. According to my experiences, the public have wilfully encouraged me back onto the sand.’