Meg Porteous is a New Zealand contemporary artist who uses various photographic genres, such as documentary photography, stock images, and self-portraiture, to explore representation.Read More
Meg Porteous studied photography, graduating with a BFA from Ilam School of Fine Arts, University of Canterbury (2013), and an MFA from Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland (2020).
Small, passing gestures and moments of contemporary life are central to Meg Porteous' photographs, which she takes with digital and analogue cameras. As part of her 2016 Shiro Ono Artist Residency in Japan, Porteous photographed her surroundings according to both planned narratives and intuition, discovering it was the latter that produced more successful images.
The results were exhibited in her solo show Departure Melody at Parlour Projects, Hastings in 2017. They include a close-up of a hand holding a piece of sushi; an elderly Japanese man climbing up a flight of stairs, his face artfully cropped off by the staircase; and oranges on a green kitchen towel, which add a spark of colour to the otherwise cold and grey interior of a kitchen.
Through images of herself, Meg Porteous explores the power dynamics between the photographer and their subject. Self-Portrait (the spectator) (2019), for example, depicts the artist in motion, the overall image blurry and seen from above. While taken by her brother, the work is a self-portrait that considers the power attributed to the photographer, especially in genres such as street photography where the subjects are often unaware of being photographed.
Porteous similarly becomes both executor and subject in Self-Portrait (the dilemma) (2019), in which she focuses on her swollen looking stomach. The camera, resting on her belly, faces the mirror—a recreation of a picture Porteous' mother took when she was pregnant. For this image, however, the artist has in fact stuffed her shirt with a basketball, donning a pair of opera gloves to add a sense of theatricality.
Meg Porteous continues to investigate the potency of images using stock photography and family album photos. In 2020, she presented 'The gift', a series of 15 photographs appropriating the format of stock images found online that appeared on three digital billboards across central Auckland. By co-opting generic images intended for easy adaptation to advertisements and commercials, Porteous examined the constructed nature of images that proliferate around us.
During her 2020 Govett-Brewster Art Gallery / Len Lye Centre Artist Residency Programme, Porteous also worked with stock photos, with the addition of old family pictures that her mother had taken over a period of three decades. After reconstructing photographs from her childhood, Porteous exhibited both the archival and the newly produced images together on posters and billboards around New Plymouth under the title 'Germinal centre' (2021).
Meg Porteous has held numerous solo exhibitions, including The gift, self-initiated project (2020); Juncture, Neo Gracie, Auckland (2020); Tears in Rain, Hopkinson Mossman, Wellington (2019); Departure Melody, Parlour Projects, Hastings (2017); and All Inclusive, The Casting Room, Christchurch (2013).
Selected group exhibitions include Uncomfortable Silence, Christchurch Art Gallery (2020); ʎʇǝıɔos, Mercy Pictures (2019); Tilt, Hopkinson Mossman, Wellington (2018); Sight, Unseen, In Situ, Christchurch (2017); and The Independent Photography Festival, Melbourne (2015).
Meg Porteous' website can be found here.
Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2021