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An image of The surfers by Anne Zahalka

Anne Zahalka

(Australia 14 May 1957 – )

The surfers, from the series Bondi: playground of the Pacific
printed 1990
Media category
Materials used
type C photograph

74.4 x 88.3 cm sight; 78.2 x 92.0 cm frame

Signature & date
Signed l.r. verso frame, ink "A Zahalka". Dated l.l. verso frame, ink "...1990" and l.r. verso frame, ink "...1989".
Gift of the artist 1990
Accession number
© Anne Zahalka. Licensed by Viscopy, Sydney
Not on display
Further information

‘I am primarily concerned with … representations to do with place, identity and culture. Through the appropriation and reworking of familiar icons and styles I seek to question (and understand) their influence, meaning and value…. The series ‘Bondi: playground of the Pacific’ evolved from a six month residency at the Bondi pavilion. The project looked at Bondi’s status as a significant cultural site and questioned the dominant representations that mythologise and embody it.’ Anne Zahalka 1995 1

Anne Zahalka, in her tableaux, forces the viewer to question what is being looked at. Zahalka did this by taking familiar images from the media and from the history of Australian art and remaking them in ways which reflect the diversity of contemporary life rather than received notions. In her series ‘Bondi: playground of the Pacific’ Zahalka uses a painted background of a beach, against which she places and plays with the icons of Australian beach culture: the surfers are Japanese; Max Dupain’s sunbather becomes a pale skinny redhead; and the modern ‘bathing beauty’ reclining on the sand is reading Marcel Proust, ‘immersed in a completely different place to the one where she lies’. 2

Anne Zahalka was educated in Sydney at East Sydney Technical College and Sydney College of the Arts. She graduated MFA from the University of NSW in 1994. She has received several fellowships and awards including Kunstlerhaus Bethanian, Berlin 1986

1. Letter to Anne Kirker 26 July 1995 printed in Kirker, A. & Williamson, C. 1996, ‘The power to move: aspects of Australian photography’, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane p 32
2. Correspondence with Judy Annear (AGNSW), 16 August 2005

© Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007

Bibliography (3)

Judy Annear, Points of view: Australian photography 1985-95, Sydney, 2005. no catalogue numbers

Jorge Calado, À Prova de Água Waterproof, Lisbon, 1998, (colour illus.). plate no. 167

Jill Sykes, Look, 'Heightening reality', pg.19-20, Newtown, Mar 2007, 20 (colour illus.).

Exhibition history (4)

Contemporary Colour Photographs from the Collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 06 Jul 1991–22 Sep 1991

Waterproof - One Hundred Days Festival - Expo 98, Lisboa EXPO 98, Lisbon, 27 Feb 1998–31 May 1998

Points of view: Australian photography 1985-95, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 19 Nov 2005–29 Jan 2006

Anne Zahalka, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 14 Mar 2007–02 May 2007