American Impressions

‘American Impressions’ follows the well-established photographic investigation of the outsider looking

in. An exhibition of images from six photography students from RMIT University who travelled to

the US in 2018 as part of a global study tour is being presented at ACAE Gallery in Melbourne. The

works reference a culture the photographers did not grow up in, but one in which there is a sense of

familiarity and knowledge. The place we think we know, through cinema, music, literature and

television, is often not the place we experience; something shifts and what ends up being seen is

something else.

The reflections of the outsider can be mysterious and troubling, but they can also be revealing. In the

times we live in, the opening-up of borders and cultures is critical in ensuring the continued

development of society, and of a global community that shares common goals and challenges.

President Trump’s America appears to be doing the opposite – closing borders and looking inwards,

but what we see in this show are the edges, the places and the people that choose to go in a

different direction.

The familiar icons of America are present with a slight ironic twist – the roller coaster without riders,

shot against the bright winter sun, or the anonymous masked driver at the lights, the images

containing compelling gazes and social comments on globalism and the environment.

The photographers looking from the outside present an impression of the US from a different

perspective, asking questions about their own knowledge and about what they see – what do you

really know about a place that you think you know? Do you see what you think you are seeing, or do

you interrogate this through your own experiences and through the moment in time.

What we are left with is an insightful impression of a country and a culture, from the outside

looking in.

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