Mark Kimber never fails to intrigue and delight with his fantastical dioramas. After The Pale Mirror (Stills Gallery
, 2012) he returns with Side Show Valley, another richly referential series about the haunting power of photography. We look at these images with a sense that we have seen them before yet their familiarity is slippery. Kimber is an academic when it comes to the history of photography. This is not surprising in a long- term educator. Kimber has been Head of Photography at the South Australian School of Art, Uni of SA since 1989 and has an MA Fine Art Degree (Combined Media) from Chelsea College of Art & Design, The London Institute in the UK (2000).
Kimber appeals to the photographic memory by constructing images on miniature stages using doll figurines that are then altered and overlaid with photographs and the artists vision. Some images are identifiable as appropriations, for example A Walk in the Park is clearly drawn from Arbus well-known Boy With a Toy Grenade. The twins in Forever are from Stanley Kubricks The Shining. He of course was referencing his love of Diane Arbus Identical Twins. Several images refer to spirit photography, and in fact all the images are ghostlike in their blurred and painterly rendition. He is drawing on the cinematic as well as photography to enliven his narratives and make them more engaging. As in many of his series Kimber is the boy in a toyshop constructing worlds for his own amusement.
It would be difficult to identify all the references in this richly layered exhibition. It is enough to understand the mind and hand at play in the series and to recognise the amount of enjoyment Kimber is having with his own deep knowledge of the medium and his palpable belief in the importance of the imagination.
Mark Kimber was born and lives in Adelaide. His work has exhibited within Australia and internationally since the early 1980s. In 2012 he was awarded the South Australian Living Artists Monograph, which resulted in the publication Mark Kimber (Wakefield Press, 2012). His work is held in various public and private collections, including the NGA, AGSA, AGWA, Artbank Collection, and the Queensland Centre for Photography.
"The photograph has always lied outrageously, but it is such a beautifully eloquent lie. Though caught in the twilight of peripheral vision this is a world as real as any dream, as concrete as any memory, and as fluid as any certainty". Mark Kimber