A still-life by Janelle Low consisting of Australian and Asian snacks.

A still-life by Janelle Low consisting of Australian and Asian snacks.

JANELLE LOW: BLONDE-HAIRED BLUE-EYED NOTHING

Identity politics have proven fertile ground for many contemporary photographers. But Janelle Low’s negotiation of such terrain takes a playful, sensitive and very different path. Shifting between still-lifes, straighter and more performative modes of portraiture, her technically astute images both embrace and undermine dominant cultural tropes. There is a tightly cropped photograph of chocolate and vanilla ice-cream arranged in a seductive swirl, a pair of lurid blue contact lenses against the soft blue of the sky and a still-life comprising Asian and Australian snacks. It’s fun and telling, but the symbolism is perhaps a tad too obvious (it comes as little surprise that, in her artist statement, Low speaks of her teenage desires to conform to a typically fair, blue-eyed Australian archetype). It’s via her portraits that Low really comes into her own. Her image of an ageing “Paolo” and a playfully sexy self-portrait speak of the complexities of identity and place via very different vernaculars.
Last day today, Dianne Tanzer Gallery + Projects, 108-110 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, 9416 3956, diannetanzergallery.net.au

INNOVATORS 1

The first show in this year’s Innovators series at Linden Centre for Contemporary Arts wrangles the limits of perception, believability and spatiality from several different vantages. Amelie Scalercio’s compact paintings combine the surreal with the laugh-out-loud absurd, her three-eyed cats and semi-peeled bananas smilingly disrupting the trope of the traditional head-and-shoulder portrait. UK collaborative duo littlewhitehead, meanwhile, recreate a Cold War-era primary school emergency drill, as we stumble across a small child hunched beneath a school desk (when we kneel down for closer vantage, the child has the face of a grown man). It’s creepy, unsettling and funny all at once. Britt Saltand Jasmine Targett’s sculptural installations are highlights. While Salt’s vast canopies of geometrically arranged rubber lines draw our attention to the dynamics of space and our journey through it, Targett’s mountainous sculpture – created using layers of Perspex – forms a prism of shifting, changing colour.
Last day tomorrow, Linden Centre for Contemporary Arts, 26 Acland Street, St Kilda, 9534 0099, lindenarts.org