There are many photographers who try and do what Erica Hurrell does. The documentary tradition is a repackaging of reality that often sees aspiring photographers fall short of the mark, but a precious few are effortlessly able to combine the seductive exoticism of unseen worlds with the suffocating familiarity of common experience.
Hurrell is one such photographer. With cameras for eyes she tirelessly documents her life’s theatre – places, people and things – for better or for worse. There are no set-ups here, just a singular vision and neutral gaze, untainted by conceptualism or artistic trend. One gets the impression that Hurrell is not merely the bystander but a participative observer with a perhaps anthropological drive and a desire to preserve the present. Australia, a nation that regularly bemoans its supposed lack of culture, will find it laid out plain as day here.
To modern eyes, seasoned in the hyperactive consumption of photographic imagery, these works at first seem easy to digest; But there is always a second-guess response or dual reaction – maybe humour in the banal or ominousness in the innocent. What we gleam from these photographs mirrors ourselves in more ways than they will ever make revelations about Hurrell herself.
Hurrell is one of few artists I know whose practise has remained largely unchanged for the better part of nearly a decade, and there is no reason why it shouldn’t. Simple though it is in idea, execution and presentation I can think of nothing that would make this work more striking or engaging. The formula is nudging at perfection – all she needs to do is keep on shooting, keep on showing.
Portraits/Photos – Erica Hurrell is currently on show at Canberra Contemporary Art Space Manuka, continuing until June 27th.