Tuesday 11th of June saw a gathering of New Zealand photography luminaries at Unity Books Wellington as Te Papa press launched The New Photography: New Zealand’s First Generation Contemporary Photographers, a beautiful photographic document which accompanies the Te Papa Tongarewa exhibition The New Photography – Life in the 60s and 70s.
Written and edited by Te Papa curator of photography Athol McCredie, The New Photography collects some of the most memorable work from eight photographers working in New Zealand through the 1960s and 70s, who McCredie chose as emblematic of these decades of social change and experimentation and whose work marked the beginnings of art photography in New Zealand. The book adds new insight to our understanding of these artists’ development through new interviews undertaken specifically for the new publication.
On the night Athol McCredie was joined by Nicola Legat of Te Papa press and photographer Anne Noble to officially launch The New Photography. Nicola introduced the book before passing over to its author. Athol spoke about how one catalyst for the project had been his earlier book on Brian Brake, who he felt, while worthy of celebration, had not felt like a subject with a strong legacy in New Zealand photography. In this book Athol set out to focus on photographers who defined how photographs were taken and seen, in and of New Zealand. There were many thanks to be given, not least to the Te Papa press team and the publishing and bookselling community of New Zealand. Athol finished on the hope that exhibitions and books like this one serve as a driver to make more photobook publishing possible, that being an essential means of engagement with the medium.
In her launch speech Anne recalled seeing many of the images included in the book for the first time in the pages of Photoforum. She spoke about the collected body of work as a ‘litany of photographs’ and performed a reading of the titles and descriptions of a string of the images. Noting that many of these images have gained greater resonance since they were first made, Anne suggested that in many cases it is time which makes a great photograph.
The New Photography – Life in the 60s and 70s is on display at Te Papa Tongarewa 15th June – 13th October 2019.