1997 - 1998
Representative is a series of portraits of Tasmanian Members of Parliament on local, state and federal level.
Tasmania, with a population of 450 000 people, is the smallest state of the Australian Commonwealth but in 1997 it was governed by about 350 parliamentarians. This was the highest per capita rate of politicians in Australia and a debate emerged on how to redress this situation.
Representative relates directly to a historic work by the Tasmanian photographer John Watt Beattie. In 1896 he was commissioned by the Tasmanian government of the time to photograph ‘Parliamentarians of Tasmania 1856 - 95’. The 259 portraits he executed were typical for last century’s approach towards both photography and politicians.
100 years after Beattie’s commission these portraits of contemporary elected Members of Parliament are again executed according to the anachronistic instructions of Beattie’s century which regarded photography as a medium directly reflecting reality. Simultaneously the Parliamentarians he photographed were seen to truthfully represent the greatness of the nation as a whole and as “people to look up to”. Today both these assumptions are increasingly scrutinised.