The exhibition Silent Agreements – Marrickville 45 spans 45 years of Emmanuel Angelicas’ career. Well… actually, it hardly covers 1 % of the photographer’s endless wanderings through the streets of one of Sydney’s Inner West suburbs, Marrickville. No images of his work in Japan, Bali, Thailand or Greece are presented in this exhibition, and yet he has also rubbed his camera many times to some of the world’s wildest places.
Marrickville only. Marrickville special.
Marrickville has it all.It is a fringe where precious multiculturalism encounters the roughness of the struggles to finding identity; it is a periphery where a very particular beat resonates in the gaps of the unseen; it is a centre where the tension between past and present creates at once instability and harmony.
These photographs are a glimpse, gems of a vast archive, which tell the story of a place, of a time and of a man whose gaze has never ceased to be that of a little boy.
The small image of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, dusty and blurry, constitutes an icon. Emmanuel Angelicas was seven when his father gave him his first plastic camera and subsequently took his first images of the city’s landmark. In the 1970s, the young boy mostly portrayed the private sphere, his close family and the reassuring environment of the Greek migrant community. But behind the viewfinder already stood a boy whose immense spontaneity and rare attention to people would later define his work.
The teenager grew up with a camera in his hands, witnessing the evolutions of the suburb he lived in as much as recording his wilder and wider encounters. His lens opened up to the darkest places and behaviours. With a clear thirst for the edges, the photographer began to shoot what has made of him “the bad boy” of photography in Sydney. Girls, guns, tattoos, sex and drugs.
Finding his pace in grainy and high contrast black and white images, the photographer constantly experiments, always placing human beings at the core of his work. Diving into the fierce and the intense, he embraces life in its murkiest components. His camera accepts no boundaries and refuses the political correctness of an establishment that he vomits. Emmanuel Angelicas likes to play with preconceived ideas and challenge judgmental opinions. His images are like bombs that he throws at the faces of the narrow-minded, reminding conformism that life is dreadful and beautiful, so are people.
Like a bomb, little boy.
Photographs as an accelerated heartbeat.
Beyond the provocative lies a continuous desire to be amazed. The little boy is now peering through the keyhole, astonished by female boundless audacity. He is coming close, very close, taking the viewer with him to what could easily be experienced as a voyeuristic journey. But his most explicit images are not to be shown to everybody and one has to take an oath before seeing the photographs that have been hand-printed with the greatest care. Cross my heart and hope to die… And the box opens on hardcore hallucinations that contain all the contradictions of life, resonating with those of the photographer.
Photography as an existential oscillation.
Human beings exist in-between.
From his first blurry image of the Sydney Harbour Bridge to some of the crudest nudes he has photographed, he is still this child locked in a chocolate factory that tastes, touches and looks at all sides of life. From his ageing mother to his growing children, from the beautiful daring women to the harshest human addictions.
written and curated by Claire Monneraye