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Andrew Ross

Excavating the past

Photographer Andrew Ross works like an archaeologist, excavating the present for signs of the past. He has said that ‘frontier societies like New Zealand [lack] the visible evidence of our history … you hardly get any sense of what has happened more than ten years ago’.

Ross photographs – with affection and respect – neglected buildings, forgotten alleys, near-obsolete industries, and those who live what he calls ‘improvised lifestyles’. All these are tenuous survivors of consumer society's demand for continuous change.

His techniques are of the past itself. He works with a tripod-mounted large-format camera and a 19th-century printing process that uses the action of sunlight rather than darkroom chemistry. This ‘slow photography’ pays close attention to light, revealing more detail than can be seen in a glance.

This text was prepared for the Collecting Contemporary exhibition, February 2012.

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