Simon Obarzanek

Simon Obarzanek


11 April–11 May 200811 Apr–11 May 2008

Melbourne photographer Simon Obarzanek’s project plays on our obsession with faces. For years he made frontal mugshot portraits of young people, male and female, posed against a grey background. Bare-shouldered or in black T-shirts, there was nothing to distinguish them sociologically, except their hairstyles. The sitters were not a dispassionate scientific sample—Obarzanek photographed faces he found interesting. His black-and-white prints suppress some aspects of difference (colouration) to emphasise others (proportion). The photos are always presented in groups, engaging us in compare-and-contrast. One face is Aryan, another alien; one is refined, another vulgar; one man’s lips seem rudely pasted on. As we discriminate the classic from the quirky, those we like from the crowd, 80 Faces tells us as much about ourselves, about what resonates with us.

The Institute of Modern Art acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land upon which the IMA now stands, the Jagera, Yuggera, Yugarapul, and Turrbal people. We offer our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the first artists of this country. In the spirit of allyship, the IMA will continue to work with First Nations people to celebrate, support, and present their immense past, present, and future contribution to artistic practice and cultural expression.