Sara Oscar works with the medium of photography. Her work reflects the diverse nature of photography as a way of investigating the mediums complex relationship to the past and its narration. Oscar takes the archive as a starting point for her practice, and employs strategies of appropriation and digital collage to play upon the subject of her works.
Sara Oscar received a Doctor of Philosophy (Visual Arts) from the University of Sydney in 2008. In 2002 she completed a BVA (Hons 1) at Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney. Current group exhibitions include Under the Sun: Reimagining Max Dupain’s Sunbaker curated by Claire Monneraye at the State Library NSW and Monash Gallery of Art, Victoria, and An Elegy to Apertures at the Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne curated by Isobel Parker Philip. She recently held the solo exhibition What it Is at BUS Projects, Melbourne. Other solo exhibitions include From Here to Eternity at the Centre for Contemporary Photography in Melbourne (2015), a work that explored the relationship between still and filmic slide projections and the language of implicit cinematic representation. In 2013 she exhibited the commissioned project Dress Code: The World’s Longest Bar (Mildura Working Mans’ Club), an outdoor ephemeral sculpture combining images and performance with Mary Teague, at the Palimpsest Biennial, Mildura, along with the solo exhibition, Law of the Series at MOP Projects, Sydney. Her work has been included in numerous group exhibitions including Photographs Arranged in Series at Sutton Projects, Melbourne, The Containers Project, Next Wave Festival Melbourne 2003. In 2004 she was nominated for the Helen Lempriere Travelling Exhibition, presented at Artspace, Sydney while in 2010, she received the Kodak Award for Excellence in Photomedia presented by the Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne.
Can supervise: YES
Aesthetics and Politics of Representation, Memory, Trauma & Representation, Photographic Ontology
- Photography history and theory
- Critical approaches to photography
Oscar, S 2018, 'Becoming a camera: On Nonhuman Photography (2017)', Philosophy of Photography, vol. 9, no. 2, pp. 222-226.
Oscar, S 2018, 'David Claerbout's the Pure Necessity: the idle time of animals in the Anthropocene', AAANZ conference, RMIT University Melbourne.
Anthropomorphosis or, the attribution of human characteristics to nonhumans has been a standard trope in popular culture, particularly in the animations produced by Walt Disney studios. In animated films such as The Jungle Book, Mickey Mouse, or The Chipmunks, nonhumans speak in the mediated language of the human. But this technique of representation feeds the human as the anthropocentric, pivot of the world because in this narrative, the human makes meaning for nonhuman entities. This is particularly relevant in the writings of posthuman philosophers such as Karen Barad, Joanna Zylinska and Donna Haraway, who call for a radical decentring of the human from the nonhuman to foster a more ecological and connected way of being in the world. This involves shifting tropes of representation so that the human is decentred from the narrative of being at the top of the hierarchical order of things. In contemporary photographic practice, such a shift can be recognised in David Claerbout's animated film, The pure necessity (2017), where human characteristics have been stripped from the popular film The Jungle Book and reanimated so that nonhuman species behave according to their own characteristics, rather than as human actors. This paper considers the historical and theoretical basis for such a shift in Claerbout's contemporary photographic practice and argues that distillation techniques and the stripping back of narrative can underscore anthropomorphic tendencies in popular culture, but that the decentring of the human in such photographic practices point to a paradoxical circuit in discourses of posthumanism.
Oscar, S 2014, 'Implicit (in-between) Images or, Photography, Allegory, Technology', Photographic Powers: Helsinki Photomedia, Helsinki Photomedia, Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland.
Oscar, S & Tsai, J 2017, 'Photography/Infraslim', Inter-discipline, Art Association of Australia and New Zealand, VCA, Melbourne University, Melbourne & RMIT & NGV.
Marcel Duchamp's infraslim provided a third term in discourse dominated in the 1930s by dialectics. Infraslim implies scientific validity with infra, but confounds it with the subjective dimension, slim. His definitions are deliberately elusive but suggest imperceptibly altered states, the in-between, liminality and interval. The infraslim has no use-value as a classificatory concept, instead, it expresses the limits
of systematic knowledge and by extension, reductive interpretative methodologies, medium and discipline specificity, and indeed any pretentions to an ordered and transparent universe. In this paper we wish to resuscitate Duchamp's infraslim in an examination of specific photographs that highlight the indeterminate quality of the medium. Infraslim photography as we shall call it, returns to the photographic
ideologies of the 1930s and undermines the certitude of science and the veracity of the senses by pushing at the limits of visual representation.
Difficult to define, technologically fluid, ubiquitous in use and presence, and neither medium nor discipline specific, photography's 'expanded fields', according to George Baker, occupy a space of the in-between.
Likewise, Geoffrey Batchen argues photography's liminal position between nature/culture, immaterial/material and science/subjectivity is embedded within the name photography, a portmanteau word of photos (light) and graphe (drawing).
Infraslim photographs of wind, air and dust, (Man Ray and Patrick Pound, for example), resist the conventional categories prescribed for the indexical analogue photograph. Similarly, the digital scores of
Andreas Mueller Pohle and the tactility of Jim Campbell's work underscore the disjunction between image and objecthood, and invite us to extol the irreconcilable nature of photography, and to find new interpretative methodologies between aesthetics and social relations.
Oscar, S 2013, 'Trauma and Effects in Frank Hurley's Album of World War One', CONTEMPHOTO, Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University Istanbul, Turkey.
Oscar, S 2018, 'Pleasant Island (The Pacific Solution)', Under the Sun, Gosford Regional Gallery.
24 pigments prints
Oscar, S 2018, 'Pleasant Island (The Pacific Solution)', Under the sun: Reimagining Max Dupain's Sunbaker, State Library of NSW.
Series of 24 pigment prints, dimensions variable
Oscar, S 2017, 'Pleasant Island (The Pacific Solution)', Staged, Photofairs Shanghai, Shanghai Exhibition Centre, China.
Installation of 14 pigment prints and photographic adhesives of variable size.
Oscar, S, 'From Here to Eternity', From Here to Eternity, Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne.
E6 slide projection of film stills from Hollywood cinema
Oscar, S, 'Law of the Series', Photographs Arranged in Series, Sutton Gallery Projects, Melbourne.
Series of 7 photographs, dimensions variable
Oscar, S, 'Law of the Series', MOP Projects.
Oscar, S, 'Reality is a hard word', Reality is a hard word, Kensington Contemporary.
Oscar, S, 'The mobility of happiness', The mobility of happiness, MOP Projects.
Series of seven photographs depicting Thai/Burmese dancers performing an animist ritual, shrines, coconuts, copper pieces and Thai/Burmese textiles.
Oscar, S, 'The Moon as it appeared in 1874', An Elegy to Apertures, Centre for Contemporary Photography.
AN ELEGY TO APERTURES
The camera receives and frames the world through the lens. This aperture is a threshold that demarcates the distinction between the scene and its photographic echo. It is both an entrance and a point of departure.
Examining the way apertures haunt photographic images long after the shutter has closed, this exhibition attends to and exposes the poetics of the portal.
Each artist featured treats the aperture – the chasm, fissure or interstice – as a thematic or poetic motif. Sink holes and port holes abound. In each crevasse or cavity that appears within the work on display we witness a circumspect allusion to that elemental photographic gesture – the taking of the shot – but also to the edge of the image. It is the lens that defines the perimeter of a photograph's visual field. Enlisting the lens as both a motif and a means of representation, these artists remind us of its outer limit but also of its limitations. They speak to subjects that remain buried and unseen within (and in spite of) the image and to the black bars that separate each frame on a strip of film – that abyss into which the invisible falls. They speak to the information that gets lost in the blink of an eye and to the inherent instability of perception.
An elegy to apertures returns to origin stories and the point zero of the photographic event, attempting to distill this fleeting instant – to hold the aperture open – and devise an allegorical framework for a self-reflexive study of the medium.
Curated by Isobel Parker Philip.
Oscar, S, 'What it is', What it is, BUS Gallery, Melbourne.
Oscar, S & Teague, M, 'The World's Longest Bar (Mildura Working Man's Club)', Mildura Palimpsest Biennale, Mildura.
The project responds to the socio-cultural changes in Mildura prompting the bar's removal and its former physical manifestation. The work is a demarcation of the spatial dimensions of the bar; this is not a replica but a temporal reinstatement using ad-hoc materials found within the Mildura township and region.
The work in its recreation and use of both functional and found objects and performance, operations and functional purpose allows for a space where a nuanced interplay can occur between the culture of entertainment, mateship, socialisation, and the sociometrics of the town and the language of contemporary art practice.