Jacky Redgate: Seeing is believing
Michael Desmond, deputy director, National Portrait Gallery
French writer and theorist Roland Barthes noted that ‘in photography, the presence of a thing is never metaphoric’, suggesting that photography is necessarily literal. The impression of tactile materiality, reinforced by the exquisitely crafted, formal, compositions in Jacky Redgate’s work seem, at first glance, to support this view. Redgate’s creative output from the 1980s until now, with its emphasis on photographic practice, argues persuasively that the camera offers more than a means to record the world. Her pioneering work in the ’eighties and ’nineties, with its singular combination of sculptural and photographic practice, helped redefine the view of photography as an art form equal to any other.
Redgate squarely faces the tension between the inescapable fiction of painting and the inability of the camera to record anything but what is placed in front of it. The play of fictive ideal against reality, and how this determines meaning, remains a central theme for the artist.
Michael Desmond is the deputy director at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra. Over the last two decades he has produced several exhibitions and published a number of texts, including Present Tense: An imagined grammar of portraiture in the digital age (2010).
Image: Michael Desmond