Waterbeds and Burial Ground - Chris McPherson

Chris's work at Jugglers Art Space http://www.jugglers.org.au  [ April 14 - 25, 2017] was a series of photographs and an installation piece representing his reflections on seeking asylum and other themes. At least that is how it started as he says:

nitially, Waterbeds and Burial Grounds was intended as a response to the plight of the refugee and as a performative testament to those who have lost their lives at sea (waterbeds) and those who have made it to distant shores or across borders only to be detained and left in limbo inside detention facilities (burial grounds).

In the midst of an abundance of harrowing media imagery surrounding this issue, the work developed into a series of mini-narratives that acknowledged the difficulty in comprehending these experiences whilst seeking to identify their origins.

Thus, "waterbeds" began to suggest the varying stability of our comfort zones and "burial grounds" the denial, ignorance, displacement and desensitisation that act as borders obstructing our empathy. [ From the artist statement]

I found the works poignant, beautiful and deeply affecting. The body bag on the floor under the lighting box invited the viewer into an inescapable  uncomfortable journey by its silent horrifying stillness without any sense of domination. Chris's photographic works, beautifully composed and curated, took us to edges of a range of unknowns.

To produce a series of photographs for a solo show is a challenge within the current digital platforms available to everyone. Chris's works rose to that challenge in my view and exceeded it. Mini-narratives, as he wrote, were indeed present as he played skilfully with light and colour to create captivating aesthetics along with a few photos of a recent trip to New York City.

It is this deeply intelligent, sensitive and skilful crafting of the state of the world in the moment that gives me a sense of hope. There are young fine art graduates who are still captivated by their passion and the state of the world, representing it into works of beauty that while more than photo journalism are game changers for those who take the time with them. I see the power of consumerism and superficiality that gobbles up the talented and drives them around the block to dump them just in time for another drive by shooting. But with this kind of determination, talent and reflection on the state of the world, consumerism has another prophetic voice.