Photographs by Bill Henson. Essays by Judy Annear, Jennie Boddington, Edmund Capon, Dennis Cooper, Peter Craven, Isobel Crombie, John Forbes.
504 pp., 407 color and b&w illustrations, 10x12".
A massive tome, Mnemosyne is a mid-career retrospective of the work of Australian photographer, Bill Henson. Borrowing its title from the Greek goddess of memory and mother of the Muses (and raising fascinating connections between photographs and the idea of recollection), Mnemosyne brings the full range of Henson's prolific output together between two covers. The book includes work from his early Ballet pictures (1974) through to the Baroque Triptychs (1983–84), to his famous Cut-Out collages shown at the centenary Venice Biennale in 1995, to, most recently, his images of adolescents at night. These last two bodies of work are at once apocryphal, raw, suggestive, and mysterious. Taken under cover of night, the photographs and resulting collages of languorous bodies afloat in a sea of black and bathed in moonlight straddle the fence between theatre and literature, implying a roughly sketched narrative. Henson has a natural proclivity to observing the human face, captured alternatively in times of repose and deep emotion, and invariably set against pitch-black tones. - Darius Himes
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