Trent Parke, the first Australian to become a Full Member of the renowned photographers’ cooperative Magnum Photo Agency, is considered one of the most innovative and challenging young photographers of his generation. Whilst working as a press photojournalist during the first years of his career, he received numerous national and international awards, including five Gold Lenses from the International Olympic Committee, World Press Photo Awards in 1999, 2000 and in 2005.
In 2009 Trent Parke was commissioned by Sydney Opera House, as an artist in residence, to shoot behind the scenes. With his characteristic originality and imagination Please step quietly everyone can hear you takes us with him backstage. Working amidst the darkness, with strictly choreographed logistics, bizarre props and long hours, he captures, with frankness and affection a side of Sydney Opera House few of us have ever seen. The images that resulted from this exciting collaboration were exhibited in complementary exhibitions at Sydney Opera House and at Stills Gallery.
Trent Parke’s dark and humorous series, The Christmas Tree Bucket, described by Alasdair Foster (Director, ACP) as“a gritty gothic tale of a nightmare lurking in the suburban shadows”, was launched at the Australian Centre for Photography and was also premiered at Paris Photo by Stills Gallery in 2008. “I started to think how strange families, suburbia, life…and in particular Christmas, really was,” says Parke of his decision to focus on the joys and pitfalls of family life.
Welcome to Nowhere, which was included in Magnum’s 60th Anniversary show New Blood, and exhibited at Stills Gallery in 2007, firmly establishes his ability to work with spectacular results in colour as well as his signature powerful black and white. Following the series Coming Soon, an exploration of urban spaces in colour, Welcome to Nowhere focuses on Australian backwaters, shot on medium format film to maintain fine detail even when printed large-scale. With Welcome To Nowhere Parke continues to create arresting tableaus that are magical in the stories they tell. Often absent of human presence the strong colours and formal composition, convey a stillness with surreal affect. Conversely, the humorous Man Vomiting testifies to Parke’s ability to capture unforeseen moments of human behaviour, or in the case of the iconic Sharkbay WA, it is a bizarre gang of emus who seem to think they own the town.
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, acquired a selection of works from Welcome To Nowhere in 2007. This is a wonderful addition to the institutions he is held in, which include the National Gallery of Victoria, Gold Coast City Art Gallery, Art Gallery of NSW, and the National Gallery of Australia.
In 2003 Parke was awarded the prestigious international W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography for his series Minutes to Midnight. Parke documented his journey around Australia over a two-year period, examining ‘the current and changing state of the Australian nation’. Capturing the mood of a still young and emerging nation, Parke examined the disjuncture between the perception of the Australian ‘way of life’, with its nostalgia and romanticism, and the more complex reality. Minutes to Midnight was exhibited for the first time at the Australian Centre for Photography as part of the Sydney Arts Festival in 2005. Works from the series were also included in the 2005 Noorderlicht Traces and Omens Photo Festival in the Netherlands and were featured by Magnum at Paris Photo in November 2005. In 2006 The National Gallery acquired Parke’s thirty-piece suite of Minutes to Midnight. The suite was included in the Australian Art Gallery’s exhibition Shoot: Five Australian Photographers in Focus and more recently (2009), was part of the Children’s Gallery at the NGA.
Parke’s Dream/Life & Beyond, exhibited in 2001 at Stills Gallery, presented a city seemingly peopled with spirits and shrouded in the mythical. The play of light and shade, individuals and crowds, reality and dream, elevates his works beyond the documentary. His book, Dream/Life, was awarded second place in the 2000 American Picture of the Year awards for photography books.
During 2000, Parke collaborated with Narelle Autio to exhibit The Seventh Wave at Stills Gallery. Their powerful and lyrical images of bathers captured the drama and otherworldliness that lies beneath the surface of the water.
Images from The Seventh Wave and Dream/Life were exhibited in 2004 at Ariel Meyerowitz Gallery in New York, and at Foto Freo in Western Australia. In 2003, works from The Seventh Wave were selected to be part of the Summer Life exhibition at Alice Austin House Museum in Long Island, New York.
Trent Parke nació en Newcastle, Australia, donde creció. Actualmente vive en Sydney y trabaja como fotógrafo freelance, siendo el único fotógrafo australiano del colectivo Magnum. Trabajó durante ocho años para News Ltd., como fotógrafo deportivo y es miembro fundador de la Oculi Photo Agency. Trent ha ganado los World Press Awards en distintas ocasiones: con Bathurst car races wn 1999, The Seventh Wave en el 2000, y Australian road kill series en 2001. en 2003 ganó el premio Eugene Smith. Su obra está agrupada en tres amplios cuerpos de trabajo: Dream/Life, donde explora la vida en las calles de Sydney, The Seventh Wave, acerca de la predilección de los australianos por divertirse en la playa, y Minutes to Midnight. Los dos primeros pueden encontrarse en forma de libro y el tercero está pendiente de publicación.
Comenzó con 12 años su relación con la fotografía con la Pentax Spotmatic de su madre, que había muerto 2 años antes, y el lavadero de la familia como cuarto oscuro.
En 2003 él y su mujer, la fotógrafa Narelle Autio, realizaron un viaje de 2 años y 90.000 km por toda Australia, que dio lugar a la serie y libro Minutes to Midnight.
Sus fotografías forman parte de colecciones públicas y privadas como National Gallery of Australia(Canberra), National Gallery of Victoria (Melbourne), Australian National Maritime Museum (Sídney),Museum of Contemporary Art (Sídney) y la University of Sydney Union.
Su trabajo ha sido ampliamente expuesto, incluidas las recientes exposiciones individuales en Nueva York, Londres y Alemania. Minutes To Midnight se presentó en el Centro Australiano de Fotografíaen enero/febrero de 2005, en colaboración con el Festival de Sídney, y se convirtió en la más concurrida muestra en la historia de los países ACP.
Es representado por Stills Gallery y por la agencia cooperativa Magnum Photos (a la que se unió en 2002, convirtiéndose en miembro a pleno derecho en 2007) que incluyó su serie Welcome to Nowhere en la exposición New Blood, conmemorativa del 60º aniversario de la agencia.