Black Beauty; Photographic print on photo baryta paper; 110 x 130cm
Bridgeman is a multi-disciplinary artist based in Brisbane, Australia, belonging to the Yuri clan of Chimbu province, Papua New Guinea. Bridgeman is a recent graduate from the Queensland College of Art, Griffith University, whose work ranges from photography, video, performance, sculpture, installation and works on paper.
Bridgeman’s work considers the subversion of sociocultural and popular identities, through visual critique and commentary of his own places of heritage, Australia and Papua New Guinea. His first major body of work, The Sport and Fair Play of Aussie Rules 2008-10, explores cross-cultural identity and the playful deconstruction of sex, gender and race politics.
First exhibited at the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane in 2008, Bridgeman’s The Sport and Fair Play of Aussie Rules has since been shown at the Australian Centre for Photography and the University of Queensland Art Museum. Other major exhibitions include New Photographs From Kokwara Trail at Gallery 4A, Sydney, Big League Balls for Next Wave Festival, Melbourne, and the Basil Sellers Art Prize at the Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne.
Eric Bridgeman’s series New Photographs From Kokwara Trail 2010 explores his interest in ethnographic photographic portraiture, and how photography has influenced national and cultural identity in his homeland of Papua New Guinea. New Photographs From Kokwara Trail 2010 was completed after Bridgeman spent three months in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea, in remote communities where his family is based. Belonging to the Yuri clan of Chimbu Province, Bridgeman spent most of this period closely observing the impact of Western influences on contemporary cultural identity, and more significantly how ethnographic studies of the past have maintained a strong presence in contemporary national identity. On this occasion Bridgeman became opposed to the idea of creating photographs in Papua New Guinea, instead allowing himself to reflect on his experiences through reconstruction, slap-stick, and parody.
With Black Beauty, Bridgeman constructs an extreme representation of a young woman posing for the camera, in a stance that suggests defiance on behalf of the subject. Raising many questions relating to ethnographic photography, including authenticity and ethical representation of the native’ identity, Bridgeman’s Black.