Anne Zahalka - Playing the game! 2009
25 June 2009
Anne Zahalka - Wild Life, 2007
1 February 2007
Anne Zahalka, Natural Wonders 2004
9 September 2004
Anne Zahalka – Leisureland, 2000
3 May 2000
Anne Zahalka – Open House, 1995
1 January 1995
Anne Zahalka – Fortresses and Frontiers, 1993
29 September 1993
Anne Zahalka – Open House, 1995
1 January 1995
An image has the ability to cross national, political, sociological and psychological boundaries. A photograph suggests a document - a real event - and therefore acts more as a record than a fantasy or product of the imaginary world. Anne Zahalka’s photographs of her contemporaries in their Sydney homes and apartments are now viewed in Dresden, Germany outside of their national context and as part of a group exhibition. They no longer possess the same referential signs of Sydney life familiar to their local audience but assume an international identity as the work that was is Prospect 1995 or as work that is broadly suggestive of an Australian identity. A stretch of blue sky, a tea towel, a Sydney newspaper, or an aluminium window frame remind the viewer that these images are from Australia. They are life style photographs that capture a strata of Australian city living.
Anee Zahalka’s Open House operates on multiple layers of meaning. Each interior scene is an intensely personal view of an home environment. The works appear to be a curious mix of the contrived and the natural. Used plates and oddly positioned objects suggest the casualness of a snap shot yet the careful composition and consistency of mood within the series arouses a deliberateness beyond anything chance or casual.
The images are large saturated colour transparencies presented in lightboxes - a technological display product of our times. They draw on the language of documentary photography, genre painting, and T.V. sitcoms but parody these genres in an ironic and critical manner.
“They expose the private interiors of a particular social milieu, examining the relationship and living situations of the occupants through the small rituals performed within daily life.”
Set within the sitters home, their kitchen, lounge or living spaces, the images appear staged yet the interior is real. Wednesday, 8:40pm shows three figures, each self contained. The figure on the far right appears as still as the portrait above her on the wall. The women stare obliquely at the television, one with an abandoned open book before her and the other with a glass of white wine positioned beside her on a table while the man is busily sewing on a machine in the brightly lit adjoining room. His concentration mirrors their inactivity and the space within the image assumes a calm stillness. The machine does not whirr with activity, the television does not disturb the stillness. The image on the wall, one of Zahalka’s early works produced while resident in Berlin, is reminiscent of Dutch painting from the 17th century and represents a microcosm within the larger image.
In this series, as in other series her references are not only the local Sydney environment but also the art historical 17th century Dutch still life or interior painting. In Wednesday, 8.40pm the chess board on the coffee table suggests the game but also, in the strange deliberateness of its positioning, mnemonically evokes the tiled floor of a Vermeer painting.
These devices reveal elements that recur within the images in Open House. Saturday, 9.15pm, depicts two men after dinner. The couple are divided by a wall, one remaining visible through a windows, the other sits in the foreground. Frames within frames repeat within Anne Zahalka’s work. An image on the wall echoes the total image, a door way frames a figure or a window isolates a subject.
In the work Saturday, 9.15pm both figures are absorbed in their own reveries. The figure in the foreground stares absently before him without a object to capture his gaze. He is a part of the contemporary tableaux presented to the viewer- the half full glass of wine, the reading material placed as if displayed for the camera, the bowl of fruit and the jug of water are contemporary, once again they references Dutch 17th century still life. Anne Zahalka pays acute attention to detail - the objects that surround the subjects may not have an intense symbolic value in isolation however the combination of these objects offers a defining picture of the sitters, within a contemporary framework.
The complexities of their surroundings weave patterns of human interests, beliefs, habits and fashions: personal histories and collective reality.
Anne Zahalka’s images from Open House display the nuanced tensions and intimate relationships of the sitters in mundane situations. The voyeuristic lens of the photographer exoticises the ordinary, revealing the infinite variability amongst all that is house and home.
Anne Zahalka, cat: Prospect 1995