As part of a generation of Australian women artists who came to the fore in the early 1980s, Anne Zahalka’s practice has always been concerned with questioning dominant myths and cultural constructs. The broad sweep of Zahalka’s oeuvre has often been underpinned by a common strategy: the world in her images appears as theatre where place, gender and national identity are questioned.
Many of Zahalka’s more recent works are located outside the studio though the natural environment can be seen to be equally constructed. In ‘The girls #2, Cronulla beach’, the photographer has returned to the seaside, which was the setting for one of her most iconic series, ‘Bondi: playground of the Pacific’ 1989. The girls.. was made as a response to the Cronulla riots and after an introduction to Aheda Zanetti, the designer of the burqini. Zahalka ‘also knew of a documentary film being made following the recruiting of Lebanese men and women into the lifesaving club. It seemed like there was change adrift on the beachfront.’1 The permutations and post-modern anxiety about what constitutes Australian identity seen in the ‘Bondi…’ series, have spilled out into the real world. But the image of these young Muslim women lifeguards seems to celebrate the potential to transgress accepted value systems.
1. A Zahalka et al, ‘Hall of mirrors: Anne Zahalka portraits 1987-2007’, Australian centre of photography, Sydney 2007, p 43
type C photograph
Artist proof, from an edition 10 + 2 APS
72.5 x 89.5 cm image (sight); 98.4 x 112.5 x 3.7 cm frame
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Gift of the artist 2011. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
Not on display
© Anne Zahalka. Licensed by Copyright Agency
Shown in 2 exhibitions
Hall of mirrors: Anne Zahalka, portraits 1987-2007:
- Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne 13 Mar 2007–12 May 2007
- Warrnambool Art Gallery, Warrnambool 15 Sep 2007–28 Oct 2007
- National Portrait Gallery [Parliamentary Zone], Canberra 23 Nov 2007–31 Mar 2008
- Ipswich Art Gallery, Ipswich 17 May 2008–27 Jul 2008
- Bathurst Regional Art Gallery, Bathurst Regional Council, Bathurst 29 Aug 2008–12 Oct 2008
- Hazelhurst Regional Gallery and Arts Centre 06 Dec 2008–01 Feb 2009
- Artspace Mackay, Queensland 06 Feb 2009–22 Mar 2009
- Perc Tucker Regional Gallery, Townsville 24 Apr 2009–21 Jun 2009
- Riddoch Art Gallery, Mt Gambier 04 Jul 2009–02 Aug 2009
- Wangaratta Exhibitions Gallery, Wangaratta 26 Sep 2009–25 Oct 2009
- Devonport Regional Gallery, Devonport 06 Nov 2009–31 Dec 2009
- Gippsland Art Gallery, Sale 30 Jan 2010–28 Feb 2010
Australian vernacular photography, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 08 Feb 2014–18 May 2014
Referenced in 1 publication
Centre for Contemporary Photography, Hall of mirrors: Anne Zahalka portraits 1987-2007, 2007, (illus.).