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LA FOCUS // PRUDENCE MURPHY

 
 
 

QCP is taking books of sixteen Australian photo-media artists to PhotoBook Independent (1 – 3 May 2015). This series of focus interviews gives an insight into the selected artists.

How did you get into photography?
My high school had a darkroom and I took B/W photography as an additional subject. One of my first images was a photo of my younger brother dressed as Robocop surrounded by bush land. He used football padding for his body armour and wore a knight’s helmet for a mask. He appeared out of nowhere and stood strong, pointing his forefinger at my lens.

I continued photography in Sydney at the University of Technology (UTS) and then transferred to the College of Fine Arts (COFA), University of New South Wales and majored in photography.

How did you arrive at the decision to create a photo book, and how is working with a book different from working on an exhibition?
I always enjoyed creating artist multiples and artist’s books as part of my Fine Arts degree. When I began working on my new photographic series, Detective Special I knew immediately it would work in book form.

The process of making work for an exhibition is a solitary one and I have complete control over the quality and presentation of the artworks. Working on the book I relinquished some of this control, collaborating with a graphic designer, arts writer and working with a printer and bookbinder. The book reframes the series and exists independently of the exhibition.

Tell us a bit about your book featured at PhotoBook Independent.
The book is constructed around twenty-four images from my most recent photographic series, Detective Special. Detective Special invites us to examine our response to guns – the gun as fetish, the gun as purchasable part, the gun transcending the world of play and moving across borders in the form of illegal trafficking.

The initial impetus for this series sparked from a broken toy gun that I found kicking around my home. It was a replica of the Colt ‘Detective Special’, a concealable pocket revolver manufactured for plain-clothes detectives in the US in 1927. The gun had been broken – all that remained were the grip and the cavity where the cylinder had been. For over a year, I researched and collected guns, dismembered them with a hacksaw and photographed them.

The images are formal, ordered, and perfectly proportioned so as to mimic the finely rendered and dissected parts of real gun components provided for the customising of weapons. They may also suggest the rituals of stripping and cleaning of weapons; or bring to mind the documentary images of guns confiscated and destroyed by law enforcement authorities; or the phenomenon of contraband weapons – where guns are dismantled and sent piecemeal over a period of time, or smuggled across borders.

For more information about Prudence Murphy, please visit her website.

Banner image: Detective Special cover

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