Photographs by Stephen Dupont
8 April – 18 June 2017
The remote Island of New Guinea has long attracted anthropologists and photographers with its richly diverse cultures, dramatically rugged topography and celebrated artistic traditions. Over the past decade, Australian photographer Stephen Dupont has made numerous trips to Papua New Guinea (PNG), documenting its changing face and the powerful impact of globalisation on the fabric of its traditional Melanesian society. In 2011 Dupont explored the mountainous Highlands, the serpentine Sepik River and the dangerously gritty capital city, Port Moresby. Over time he has photographed tremendous social change, the exploitation of natural resources such as gas, gold and silver, as well as AIDS, migration, persistent poverty, and new wealth.
In this exhibition, Dupont reveals many of these changes through his diaries, photographed landscapes and innovative portraits of contemporary Papuans. Moreover, by exposing behind-the-scenes elements such as backdrops, onlookers and the edges of frames, Dupont calls attention to the photographic process itself and questions the role of the photographer in Papuan history.
Stephen Dupont’s vision is one of both dignity and confrontation. He aims to present an empathetic perspective upon the natural beauty and infrastructural decay of one of the world’s most remote and misunderstood countries. He respects his subjects greatly and seeks to capture the human spirit with each frame he makes. With audiences, he hopes that his photographs and diaries may heighten awareness.
The exhibition includes artefacts such as masks, shields and drums from areas across PNG that are represented in Dupont's photographs. These are drawn from the significant MAGNT Papua New Guinea collections.
Image: Stephen Dupont, Tradestore, Tari, Southern Highlands, 2011. Image courtesy of the artist.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Stephen Dupont’s work explores fragile cultures and marginalised peoples, often in some of the world’s most dangerous regions. His images are remarkable in the way they intimately capture the human dignity of his subjects, and locate them in contemporary social and global conditions.
His work has been exhibited and published across the globe, and has earned him photography’s most prestigious prizes, including a Robert Capa Gold Medal; a Bayeux War Correspondent’s Prize; and first places in the World Press Photo, Pictures of the Year International and Leica/CCP Documentary Award. In 2007 he was the recipient of the W. Eugene Smith Grant for Humanistic Photography and in 2010 he received the Peabody Museum’s Robert Gardner Fellowship. Dupont’s work is in collections throughout Australia and Europe, and at The New York Public Library, Harvard University’s Fogg Museum and the Library of Congress.
He has twice been an official war artist for the Australian War Memorial, with commissions in Afghanistan (2012) and the Solomon Islands (2013).
Stephen Dupont, Sing-sing performer, Goroka Show, Eastern Highlands, 2011. Image courtesy of the artist.
Stephen Dupont, Urista Korimbun, baby Bono Korimbun, green parrot, Govermas Village, Middle Sepik, 2011. Image courtesy of the artist.
Stephen Dupont, Tradestore, Tari, Southern Highlands, 2011. Image courtesy of the artist.
Stephen Dupont, Baruni, Port Moresby, 2009. Image courtesy of the artist.
Stephen Dupont, Sing-sing drummer, Enga show, Wabag, Eastern Highlands, 2011. Image courtesy of the artist.
Stephen Dupont, Sing-sing performer carrying wooden gun to represent australian colonial “patrol officer,” Hagen show, Western Highlands, 2011. Image courtesy of the artist.