Max DUPAIN, Brave new world Enlarge 1 /1


Australia 1911 – 1992

Brave new world 1935 Place made: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Materials & Technique: photographs, gelatin silver photograph

Dimensions: 46.3 h x 35.0 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1982
Accession No: NGA 82.1072
Subject: Australia, Art style: Surrealism

More detail

This complex montage brings together the realism of the cameraless photogram (note the screw in the lower right corner) and a highly allegorical montage of images printed from negatives showing a woman seemingly trapped by a camera tripod head. The title of the work refers to Alfred Huxley’s dystopian novel Brave new world (1932), in which human reproduction and life itself are tightly controlled by a global government. Dupain was sympathetic to the book’s warning about the loss of individuality and human agency at the hands of industrialism. What is particularly compelling about this image is the way that, as in Huxley’s book, photography itself is understood as potentially an oppressive tool of the state. The naked woman is literally controlled by photographic technology: physically constrained by the camera’s technical apparatus, her image is embedded in a range of photographic printing processes.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra