In a generation when the world is becoming more and more digitised, Melbourne-based photographic artist, Linsey Gosper, chooses to return to the magic of the darkroom. In recent work, Gosper shows an increasing fascination with black and white photography, playing with light and shadow. The preference for print photography over the digital is something that is important to Gosper, describing her practice as “experimentation with the materiality of the photographic medium,” while investigating “the construction and performativity of identity, gender and sexuality.”
Gosper showed promise early in her career. She graduated from the University of Newcastle with a Bachelor of Fine Art (First Class Honours) in 2003 and was awarded the Annual Emerging Artists Prize the very same year, solidifying her as an up-an-coming artist to be reckoned with. Since her move to Melbourne in 2008, Gosper completed a Master of Fine Art by Research through the Victorian College of the Arts and has exhibited consistently in Melbourne’s inner suburbs. She also established the short-lived but influential independent gallery, Strange Neighbour. Through Gosper’s exhibitions she is able to communicate her ideas to the public while creating a name for herself among the Melbourne contemporary art scene.
In 2015, Gosper co-curated the exhibition ‘SEX’ with writer Jack Sargeant at Strange Neighbour. The five works in this exhibition examined both male and female sexuality. Boy, by Gosper, is a portrait of a young man standing naked, facing the camera, genitals exposed, a look of disinterest on his face. Across the left side of his chest are written the words ‘dead beat,’ his apathy highlighted by his unkempt hair. Eye, a joint creation of Gosper and Sargeant, is a wink to the sexual revolution of the 1960s when women began to explore their own sexuality. A woman sits on a black plastic chair, legs parted, her black polka dotted skirt raised above her waist. With her left hand, she gently spreads the labial folds to reveal a realistic glass eye, while her right hand holds a small mirror. The eye stares intently down into the mirror, carefully examining every aspect of itself.
Similar themes were also expressed in an earlier exhibition, ‘Alone in my room.’ Here Gosper explored feminine sexuality through colour photographic works of solitary women juxtaposed with images of nature. Both sets of images contain a voyeuristic element. The women are alone, seemingly unaware they are being watched. Their bodies are exposed, yet their faces are not visible. In this way, the emphasis is not on the individual, but rather the actions they are undertaking. Some relax, motionless, while others literally take their sexuality into their own hands. When Gosper turns to nature the scenes are similarly solitary, featuring scenes of abandoned places. These serve to enhance the portraits by the presence of complimentary scenes, both thematically and compositionally.
The nature of woman’s position in society is critiqued in ‘Object Love,’ Gosper uses herself as subject in a series of six self-portraits. Each colour photograph presents Gosper as a different persona “based upon conventional versions of femininity.” The humorous works shed light on the absurd and contradictory nature of expectations placed upon women. Gosper poses enticingly with a vacuum cleaner in Domestic Python, nude apart from a gorilla mask in Furie and sexily holding a scrubbing brush in Ecstasy.
This year, Gosper is exhibiting in the independent curated event [not|fair] with work previously exhibited as one half of the public art project The Guardians. The project consisted of two large billboards that kept watch over Bakehouse Studios’ Hoddle Street wall in Carlton in May last year (2016). The billboards transported the traditional guardians of Paris to Melbourne where they watched over the recording artists as they attended the studio. One, Notre Dame’s famous gargoyles staring fiercely towards the door; the other, the sphinxes of la fontaine du Palmier spewing forth their nourishment as they bring water to the city. The use of black and white creates a chiaroscuro effect which emphasises the feeling of mystical awe associated with its maternal power as Gosper captures the moment of expulsion of clean drinking water to sustain the thirsty city.