(Australia 1976 – )
88.5 x 108.5 cm image (sight); 93.0 x 113.0 x 6.0 cm frame
Emma White is a Sydney-based multidisciplinary artist whose practice explores ideas around materiality, representation and form. She completed her MA in photo media at Sydney College of the Arts, receiving the university medal in 2008. Her work, from clay sculptures to photography and animation, has featured in exhibitions such as ‘Primavera’ (2010) as well as being included in the collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney and Artbank.
Everyday objects and their significance in the way we construct reality are often the thematic backbone of White’s work. Mass-produced items, such as felt pens, cameras, and pencil sharpeners, are copied in Fimo synthetic polymer clay, itself a stand-in for the real thing. White photographs these carefully lit objects in a very literal manner that adds a hyperreal quality to her images. By making these ‘fake’ tools – she points to the functions they are meant to be performing. Much like the conceptual photography of Thomas Demand and Jacky Redgate, her photographic simulations then draw us into thinking about how we categorise the material world through the fragile systems of vision and use.
In her 2011 series ‘The plastic arts’, White extends her rigorously consistent investigations in this area into a more abstract realm. ‘Still life with objects’ combines both three and two dimensional articles through re-photography, creating an imaginary pictorial space. White draws on the traditions of modernism to focus our attention upon the intermediary states that occur throughout the act of making. Her work plays with the border between vagueness and definition, especially here where nothing in particular can be ‘named’. As the artist noted in a 2011 statement, this fluctuating condition represents ‘moments in the process of working with a particular material… where it becomes more beautiful, or interesting, in its indeterminacy as pure colour and surface, than a finished ‘thing’ would be.’1
1) Emma White, ‘The plastic arts’, exhibition sheet, Breenspace, 2011, np
The plastic arts, Breenspace, Sydney, 14 Oct 2011–12 Nov 2011
Joy before the object, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 28 Sep 2013–02 Feb 2014