MAMA National Photography Award Opens for 2022, Almost 40 Years Later | border mail


In 1983, photography was considered by some not to be a valid artistic medium – even today these sentiments exist. But since the establishment of the National Photography Award by the Murray Art Museum Albury, the importance of this art form has been proven. MAMA Art Foundation President Tony Smith said helping to establish the biennial prize nearly 40 years ago, through the then-named Albury Regional Art Centre, was an exciting challenge. “Photography at the time was on the fringes of what an art gallery was doing, and there were a number of people in the community who didn’t think it was an appropriate way to collect,” said- he declared. “(But) photography is a major part of the gallery’s collection…we have a fairly comprehensive collection.” It was also the reality of what a relatively small regional gallery could do. “Continuing to collect Australian oil paintings was not going to be possible – even then they were expensive.” The foundation is among the funders of Australia’s oldest photo prize, which will be open to the public this weekend. MAMA director Bree Pickering said the prize, the winner of which will be announced tonight, was “the cutting edge of photography”. “This award is really important and it really reflects what’s happening with contemporary art right now,” she said. “It reflects the history of this museum and its predecessor…like what was happening at the time, it pushes the boundaries. “Forward thinking is a tradition for this museum.” In one entry, Australians who represent the range of occupations recorded in the census data have had their aura recorded and photographed.Attempts to capture energy fields around the human body, linking the findings to spirituality, date back to the 19th century.Ms Pickering said that this work nearly anticipated the increase in non-traditional wellness practices seen during the pandemic.”These works reflect really contemporary concerns in many ways,” she said. “This incredible show exists because of the generosity of the people of Albury. “Many people’s businesses have been impacted over the past few years, but that generosity has continued. “It’s a real indication of how much support this community has for this museum.”


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