Drew Pettifer’s images are at once intimate and platonic. They are wild and yet utterly quotidian. They speak of moments of exploration and curiosity, but also comfort, friendship, attention and affection. Talking over a book. Making a sandwich. Kissing. Wearing socks. Making toast. Taking a shower.
These are not documentary photographs. They do not show what happens to be going on anyway. They are not incidental, rather the situation is negotiated and discussed — if not orchestrated and directed — then consciously considered by Pettifer and his sitters, the vast majority of whom are friends, or friends of friends.
Whatever main action might have happened in this sequence of images seems to have taken place before the shutter was opened, or to be going on elsewhere. These are the in-between moments, when the fiction and reality of the scenario that is being played out merges into a murky blend of awareness and abandon…
…The thought occurs that we are witnessing both truth and fiction at once. It plants a seed that this is not a set, that there are other rooms for other wonders to unfold in, other strains of dialogue, other instances where a scenario plays out differently depending on the mood, the diary of those in front of the camera, or even the weather. It makes me cognisant of the fact that I don’t quite know what is going on, nor therefore, what I’m witnessing or where I fit within it.Pippa Milne, In other rooms, other wonders
Dr Drew Pettifer is an artist, academic, curator and lawyer with research interests in photographic theory, queer theory, gender, power, desire, the archive and contemporary social politics. His art practice works across photography, video, printmaking, performance and installation. Recent exhibitions include: Obsession: Devil in the Detail, Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery, Mornington (2019); Equal Love, RMIT Spare Room, Melbourne (2019) and Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts, Taipei (2018). His work is held in a number of collections, including the National Gallery of Victoria, Monash Gallery of Art and City of Melbourne’s Arts and Heritage Collection, as well as private collections nationally and internationally. In 2017, Drew Pettifer was awarded one of five university-wide Vice Chancellor’s Commendations for Doctoral Thesis Excellence at Monash University for his project examining contemporary representations of masculinity and the queer gaze.
In addition to his own art practice, Drew hosts the Australian contemporary art podcast FIELD WORK and works as an independent curator and writer. He has extensive links to the Australian arts industry, sitting on the board of the new Shepparton Art Museum, the Director’s Circle for Bus Projects and the Patron’s Circles of the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art and West Space. Drew is also a peer assessor for the Australia Council for the Arts and City of Melbourne Grants Panels.
I Melt With You is Drew Pettifer’s fourth publication with M.33. Previous titles are: ‘Some Want Quietly’ (2016), ‘Less Than Lovers’ (2014) and ‘I keep mine hidden’ (2011).