THE LIGHT FADES BUT THE GODS REMAIN | BILL HENSON
A Museum of Australian Photography (MAPh) touring exhibition
2 Dec 2023 to 18 Feb 2024
‘Over a period of several years I came to understand that what I wanted to capture and hold on to was a place which no longer existed. The possibility of photographing the landscape of memory and in so doing return to the ‘lost domain’ of childhood seemed both beguiling and yet so unlikely. The fact of these photographs, and of them having been made in the last two years and yet in them the depiction of a place which ceased to exist fifty years before, must surely be an impossibility. Nevertheless, I’m always hoping there just might be something ‘impossible’ about a picture – some profound ‘unlikeliness’ that documents both the world of the imagination and our shared, physical world. Perhaps it’s only through searching for this that we might draw closer to some deeper sense of continuity.’
– Bill Henson, artist
About Bill Henson
Bill Henson was born in Glen Waverley, in Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs in 1955 and continues to live and work in Melbourne. Henson studied photography at Prahran Technical College in 1974 and at 19 years of age held his first solo show at the National Gallery of Victoria in 1975. He has since exhibited extensively in Australia and overseas, including New York, London, Paris, Beijing, Tokyo, Montreal, Barcelona, Vienna and Amsterdam. In 1995 Henson represented Australia at the Venice Biennale, with his celebrated series of cut-screen photographs.
In 2003 Henson’s work appeared in Strangers: the first ICP triennial of photography and video at the International Centre of Photography in New York. In the same year, he had a solo exhibition at the Centro de Fotografia, University of Salamanca, Spain. In 2005 a comprehensive survey of his work was held at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney and the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne. This landmark survey show, titled Mnemosyne attracted record visitor numbers for a contemporary art exhibition in Australia and was accompanied by the substantial and important publication by the same name. In 2006 Henson exhibited a major body of work in Twilight: photography in the magic hour at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. He holds an honorary doctorate from the University of NSW.
Henson has had a long association with MAPh including a solo exhibtion of his early work in 2008, The MAPh collection: Bill Henson, and in 2014 the exhibition Wildcards: Bill Henson shuffles the deck, which was Henson’s first curatorial project and captured his selection of works drawn from the MAPh Collection. Most recently, the major commissioning exhibition The light fades but the gods remain was first shown at MAPh in 2019.
An MAPh traveling exhibition.
The light fades but the gods remain is a major exhibition showcasing
two key series by Bill Henson, one of Australia’s most eminent artists,
exploring the suburb of Glen Waverley where he grew up.
In celebration of MAPh’s 25th anniversary, Henson was commissioned
to revisit the suburb of his childhood and to produce a new body of
work that reflects upon his earlier series Untitled 1985–86, known by
many as ‘the suburban series’.
This ground-breaking commission offers an unparalleled insight into
one of Australia’s most revered artists, as he explores the notion of
home, intensifying the every day to a point of dramatic revelation and
Curator: Pippa Milne, MAPh Senior Curator
MAPh would like to acknowledge the following exhibition supporters:
City of Monash, Creative Victoria, Bowness Family Foundation, Daniel
Besen and Dr Les Walkling
Exhibition Eventsexhibition opening 1 Dec 2023
Main Image: Bill Henson, Untitled 3 2018-19 (detail), from the series Untitled 2018-19 Museum of Australian Photography, City of Monash Collection. Courtesy of the artist, Tolarno Galleries (Melbourne) and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery (Sydney).