Victoria Cooper+Doug Spowart Blog

HEATHER FAULKNER’s ‘A Matter of Time’ Exhibition

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Heather Faulkner's exhibtion 'A Matter of Time'

In Heather Faulkner’s exhibition A Matter of Time

A Matter of Time – Heather Faulkner, Brisbane Powerhouse 26 March–28 April 2013.

Today everyone possesses a camera so by association everyone is a photographer and everyone takes photographs. Evidence of this activity is in all kinds of spaces we inhabit, but of course it is most prevalent in the pervasive and immediate space of online social media. Andy Warhol once exhorted that: ‘In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes’, and perhaps the proliferation of photography in Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram has indeed made everyone famous, as some purport, ‘for 15 people’1. The extension of this euphemism could be that ‘everyone may be famous for 15 online photographs.’

But what has all this to do with an exhibition of documentary photographs in suburban Brisbane? Well … for me ‘photography’ in the hands of casual shooters, responding spontaneously to their lives, represents only a segment of the world’s daily dose of photography. Documentary photographers for example, use photography as visual research to inform and create understanding for others. These photographers are usually directed by passion for a particular issue, and driven by the need to tell stories of others and maybe even–of themselves. In this context the act and product of photography transcends the milieu of images and provides us with a deeper connection through the communication of the narrative. This exhibition is from one such photographer.

Heather Faulkner’s exhibition A Matter of Time, at the Brisbane Powerhouse, is a charged and evocative statement about the circumstances, situations and legacies of lesbian women living in the state of Queensland. Faulkner documented the lives of eight women and their significant lived experience of the political and social regimes that existed and, as claimed in the exhibition statements, still exists today.

Faulkner’s images take on two separate forms: large format black and white full frame portraits, and colour images of a more documentary nature. In the large portraits the subject’s stare is direct to camera capturing the viewer’s attention in what Faulkner describes as the ‘oppositional gaze’2. They are assertive and declare ‘this is me’. Placed alongside these portraits is the biography and backstory of each woman. For the viewer/reader in this juxtaposition the text and the image creates a silent dialogue. As in the examples of Faulkner’s presentation of Carol Lloyd’s story shown here.

Carol Lloyd - Heather Faulkner's exhibtion 'A Matter of Time'

Carol Lloyd – the large portrait. Heather Faulkner’s exhibition A Matter of Time


The colour images are extremely intimate and distinctly banal, perhaps exhibiting the photographer’s light touch to aesthetically intervene in the narrative. The subject is imaged engaging in life’s everyday activities: cuddling a family pet, on the couch watching TV, talking with others, arranging things on a bed. The photographic treatment of these photographs is not the sensationalised grainy monochrome, extreme perspective depth and overtly dramatic composition that so often pervades the modern photojournalistic genre. There is a sense of the view being derived from ‘hanging out with friends’, and of the camera as an invisible witness. For me this approach results in authentic and genuine documents.

Carol Lloyd - Heather Faulkner's exhibtion 'A Matter of Time'

Carol Lloyd in a reflective moment – Heather Faulkner’s exhibition A Matter of Time

Carol Lloyd - Heather Faulkner's exhibtion 'A Matter of Time'

Carol Lloyd as performer – Heather Faulkner’s exhibition A Matter of Time


The exhibition also includes historical family snapshots that are presented alongside the recent images. A young child smiles back at the viewer, faded and colour-casted prints and wedding group photographs all add to the story of each subject. To protect the anonymity of people in these images black bands have been placed across faces to prevent recognition. The integration of these photographs extends the exhibition beyond just being about photographs and into the realm of a more complete and provocative social documentary statement.

Carol Lloyd - Heather Faulkner's exhibtion 'A Matter of Time'

Carol Lloyd’s personal image history in Heather Faulkner’s exhibition A Matter of Time


Ultimately everyone will draw their own conclusions about the women portrayed and the lives that they have lived, or should I say, endured. Faulkner states in exhibition materials that a research report suggests that: ‘Queensland is the most homophobic state in Australia’3. Facilitated through Faulkner’s photographs, exhibition strategies and other products resulting from this work, the stories told here engage with the human face of the weary struggle, of these women’s resilience, and the strength gained by the rewards of living an authentic life.


Dr Doug Spowart with a contribution from Victoria Cooper

More on Heather Faulkner: http://heatherfaulkner.com.au/

1 Bell Hooks (1992) The Oppositional Gaze in Black Looks: Race and Representation, Boston: South End Press.

2 http://web.archive.org/web/20061214124420/http://www.hyperorg.com/blogger/mtarchive/004264.html

3 Faulkner’s Artist’s Statement cites Roy Morgan Research (2008-2010)

Heather Faulkner

Heather Faulkner @ the opening

Heather Faulkner's exhibtion 'A Matter of Time'

Heather Faulkner’s exhibition A Matter of Time

All exhibition photographs © Heather Faulkner 2013.

Images of the exhibition installation and text by Doug Spowart .

Creative Commons-by-nc-nd.eu

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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