Artist Statement

Artist Statement

My photography and art practice is influenced strongly by my professional training in cultural geography. My artwork is conceptually-driven, and simultaneously personal and political. In my visual arts practice, I am drawn to understanding diverse relationships between identity, place and environment. On the one hand, my work explores the intersections of cultural and natural systems, including human-animal relations, conservation, urban nature, streetscapes, architecture, capital exchange and natural elements. On the other hand, I also delve into political and psychological work that captures shifting moments of selfhood, identification and belonging.

For information on my academic work, see:

Contact me via email: andrewgm3 [at]

Copyright Statement

Copyright Statement

All images and text statements appearing on this website are copyrighted © 2013-2015 Andrew Gorman-Murray. Images may not be reproduced, copied, transmitted or manipulated without the written permission of Andrew Gorman-Murray. Citation of text is permitted providing the author (Andrew Gorman-Murray) and source (this website) are correctly attributed.

Over the Ditch

Installation photographs, Over the Ditch, 2014.
Photomedia installation, with found and donated photographs, ethnopoetry, and recycled timber.

Over the Ditch, which is part of On Islands Eramboo: Creative Collaboration Festival, is a collaboration between Andrew Gorman-Murray, Chris Brickell (University of Otago) and Anna De Jong (University of Wollongong).

On Islands Eramboo, 15-30 November 2014.

The Antipodes – Australia and New Zealand – are large islands surrounded by the Pacific, Indian and Southern Oceans, sharing the Tasman Sea as a fluidic border. There is a long history of island-hopping between Australia and New Zealand, which share cultural traits and open borders. Trans-Tasman crossings are colloquially called ‘hopping over the ditch’.

Over the Ditch is a photomedia installation that explores and visualises the experiences of gay men from Australia and New Zealand who have hopped over the ditch. The installation comprises found and donated photographs from seven men who crossed the ditch. They span a period of eighty-three years, from 1931 through the early post-WWII years to 2014. Many of these men wrote diaries, stories and blogs of their journeys too, and these texts are rendered as ethnopoetic verse to add layers to our sense of their experience over the ditch.

The installation takes the form of a journey, with 22 route-markers created from recycled timber, which present a sequence of visual and ethnopoetic narratives from the men. Materially, the route-markers invoke ideas of breaking down fences, journeying through life, and seeking a place of belonging. 

Hopping over the ditch is significant for these men. Experiences on the other side of the Tasman shape subjectivities, identities and cultural worlds and issues social and political messages. Sydney has been a symbolic and material beacon for Antipodean gay imaginaries. Connecting with place – in and through movement – informs who we are. It also builds our relationships with each other. In the last year, around 240 Australian same-sex couples have married in New Zealand, which is now a beacon of acceptance.

Over the Ditch is a collaboration across disciplines, linking history, geography and visual art. In bridging gay worlds across the Tasman, our narratives reach across disciplinary boundaries.

Slow Burn/Night Vision

Slow Burn/Night Vision, 2014, video still.

This video work responds to public discourse about Australia’s foreign relations in 2014. Concern has mounted in response to international perceptions of the Australian government’s position on climate change, national security, national identity, refugee rights, immigration and economic relations. Arguably, international opinions of Australia’s position and influence in the world system have soured during 2014. Domestic critique insinuates Australia is burning bridges overseas. In critical social theory and critical media commentaries, geopolitics is posited as a game of strategy, surveillance, military and political relations. Foreign relations inherently involve subterfuge – the guarding and discovery of political, economic and martial secrets. Foreign relations are a game of smoke and mirrors, half-truths, deliberate falsehoods and obscured visions.

Slow Burn/Night Vision is a dual-channel video installation, with each channel responding to and visualising two interrelated themes about international relations invoked in the title: ‘slow burn’ and ‘night vision’. The aim is to create a meditative effect – to create a space for thought and reflection on the state of Australia’s foreign relations and place in the world vis-à-vis geopolitics. ‘Slow burn’ speculates on the burning and deterioration of Australia’s foreign relations. ‘Night vision’ presents aerial views of national parliament buildings – US, Canada, UK, EU, Russia and China (nations with which Australia has important relationships) – exploring foreign relations through buildings that materialise national integrity and international correspondence. Common motifs create a dialogue between the channels, in particular the concept of obscured vision – smoke-and-mirrors, night vision effects – and emergency/martial soundscapes. The backdrop creates another layer – another comment on global democracy and citizenship – that grounds both channels, literally, in their installation in space.

The approach to Slow Burn/Night Vision was inspired by the work of several contemporary artists working in different photographic and time-based media, including Douglas Gordon’s dual-channel video The End of Civilisation (2012) and the work of photographers Mishka Henner, David Thomas Smith and Trevor Paglen, whose art comments on the subterfuge of geopolitics, international surveillance and global visions.

Installation photographs, Black Box, COFA D Block, 7 November 2014.
Dual channels projected on 40cm x 40cm reflective perspex.


After, 2014.
Inkjet Print on Platine Fibre Rag, 39cm x 26cm.

After re-imagines Nan Goldin’s Gilles and Gotscho Embracing (1992). The original photograph is part of a series in which Goldin documents a gay couple’s intimacy and care in the context of HIV/AIDS during the 1990s. The series traces this partnership over 1992-1993, following Gilles’ decline from health to death (from AIDS-related illnesses). In After, I seek to do more than reproduce the original moment, but rather consider personal and social changes in the context of HIV/AIDS. There have been significant advances in the understanding and treatment of HIV/AIDS since the early-1990s, bringing more hope for dealing with (and living with) HIV/AIDS. We must nevertheless remain vigilant about the personal and social costs of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and at the heart of social issues are personal stories. Thus, I draw on the composition and motifs of Gilles and Gotscho Embracing to elicit a personal relationship in the wake of death and separation. The central relationship in After is between the remaining partner and the teacup and saucer, which is a mnemonic and material anchor for his partner. The tactility and intimacy between the subject and object seeks to question the certainty of sharp distinctions between absence and presence, on the one hand, and loss and hope, on the other. Possessions play an important role for both individuals and relationships: as a mnemonic for the absent partner, such objects also embody endurance in the present and hope for the future. In this case, hope is also for a future where HIV/AIDS is no longer a threat.

Texere: The Unfinished Work of Domestic Assemblage

Texere: The Unfinished Work of Domestic Assemblage, 2014.
Digital Photograph, 30cm x 20cm.

This work was created for the cover of a special issue of the journal Home Cultures, on the theme 'Alternative Domesticities: A Cross-Disciplinary Approach to Home and Sexuality'. The work attempts to visualise some of the ‘queerness’ of domesticity, taking seventeenth and eighteenth century Baroque still life painting as its starting point. Still life, especially from the Dutch Republic, often referenced domestic themes through the arrangement of domestic objects – food, flowers, fruit, textiles, tools, vases, ceramics, cutlery, etc. This art-historical tradition highlights the importance of the domestic for understanding historical, geographical and social processes. The piece attempts to evoke the materiality and tacility of the domestic. In doing so, the work seeks to elicit contemporary cross-disciplinary themes about the domestic as: a process, a weaving, a representation, a text, an assemblage, an ongoing labour, sensorial, unfinished, messy, and polyvalent. Every element within the image is a textile, making reference to the Latin root of both text and textile – texere – a weaving. Text, textile and representation are always weavings: in this case, a weaving of the domestic as an assemblage of materials, and a process of labour, that is layered, multifaceted and enduring.

Melbourne Tram

Melbourne Tram, 2014.
Digital Photograph, 15cm x 10cm.

This image of a Melbourne tram was taken in the CBD, at a Flinders Street junction, late on a January afternoon, 2014. My intention was to capture the play of light and animation from the buildings, sky and tram while the vehicle was in motion. The effect is an image balanced by four quadrants of light and colour. The image will feature in the 2015 Invest Victoria promotional calendar. 

Empire: Fabricating Interior and Exterior Housing Systems

Damask/FDC Construction Fitout Refurbishment, 2014.
Inkjet Print on Museum Velum, 42cm x 29.7cm.

Argyle/John Holland Construction, 2014.
Inkjet Print on Museum Velum, 42cm x 29.7cm. 

Herringbone/Richard Crookes Constructions, 2014.
Inkjet Print on Museum Velum, 42cm x 29.7cm.

Tapestry/Tony Owen Partners, 2014.
Inkjet Print on Museum Velum, 42cm x 29.7cm.

Empire explores transformations of residential spaces and housing systems in contemporary cities under post-colonial capitalist regimes. Empire focuses on buildings undergoing residential re-purposing in Sydney’s inner west – a site of gentrification and class-based displacement. The work responds to critical axioms of political economy: capital colonises ever-new spaces; capitalist landscapes are unstable; infrastructure melts into air; bourgeois architectural systems, interior and exterior, are constantly reworked in the pursuit of profit. In capitalist housing ventures, economic, financial, material and aesthetic systems intersect to ensure the survival of capitalism. These spheres ‘infect’ each other: bourgeois aesthetics are an avenue for propagating and selling ever-more profitable housing systems. Infrastructure, economics and taste inflect each other. As such, capitalism colonises home environments, just as it has colonised the globe.

Empire explores these concepts through photomontage, and the juxtaposition of ‘viral’ interior and exterior housing structures – fabrication and textiles. The cross-infection of interior and exterior systems provokes consideration of how capitalism invades interstitial spaces to colonise intersecting systems at the same time. Capitalism ‘re-knits’ interconnected spaces – the private and the public, the internal and the external – in order to ensure its enduring success. Textiles and viruses are significant motifs of colonisation. Textile manufacturing was integral to the development of modern urban-industrial capitalism, and a critical market for international competition (which sometimes took martial as well as commercial forms). Meanwhile, the imperial expansion of capitalist nation-states from Europe across the world led to the international exchange and global transmission of new viruses and diseases (e.g. Syphilis, Ebola, HIV) – while imperial-capitalism itself spread virally, reaching into and integrating all corners of the globe.

Installation photograph, COFA, D Block, 29 October 2014.

Urban Atmospheres

Dark Light, 2014, video still.

Loop video links:

Cyclonic Abstraction

Life Lines

These short videos should be shown as loops. Comprising Urban Atmospheres, these works are concerned with interactions of natural and cultural systems in contemporary cities. They explore the dark poetics of urban atmospheres. In building cities, people have sought to control the function and flow of natural systems, a process that has increased with intensity alongside the growth of urban-industrial capitalism. But natural systems can't be controlled, and the effects of doing so are unpredictable; the intersections of energy, materials, technologies and nature are mutable. Dark Light, through still photography and moving images, explores the interplay of fix and flow in energy systems. Cyclonic Abstraction explores the weather systems caused by urban microclimates. Life Lines explores the intersection of electricity and atmosphere.


Body/Form #1, 2014.
Inkjet Print on Velin Museum Rag, 29.7cm x 42cm.

Body/Form #2, 2014.
Inkjet Print on Velin Museum Rag, 29.7cm x 42cm.

For dust you are, and to dust you will return. (Genesis 3:19)

Body/Form is a set of two diptychs that scrutinises the indeterminate binary between organic and inorganic, corporeal and sculptural, subject and object. In each diptych, a portrait (right) examines the sculptural qualities of the neck, from above the clavicle to the jaw line, while its pair (on the left) explores the corporeality of an asymmetrical ceramic vase (Mike Bush 2007). The relationship between each pair is one of form, of material qualities that are simultaneously organic and sculptural, with the neck and the vase mirroring and reflecting each other. This conceptual and methodological approach is inspired by Richard Avedon’s portrait of Marella Agnelli (1953): his use of light renders Agnelli’s body statuesque. Similarly, through attention to light and shadow, Mary Jane Ansell’s portrait Georgie (2011) elicits the sculptural form of neck musculature. In Body/Form, the vase assumes a bodily quality akin to the human neck, challenging its object-ness; and the human neck, sequestered from the body, takes a sculptural form that queries human subjecthood. The exclusion of identifying facial features – for example, eyes and mouth – are deliberate strategies both to de-subjectify the portrait and augment formal coherence.


Conflict, 2014.
Inkjet Print on Platine Fibre Rag, 29.7cm x 21cm.

Earth Spirit, 2014.
Inkjet Print on Platine Fibre Rag, 29.7cm x 42cm.

Question, 2014.
Inkjet Print on Platine Fibre Rag, 29.7cm x 21cm.

 Confrontation, 2014.
Inkjet Print on Platine Fibre Rag, 29.7cm x 21cm.

Fire Spirit, 2014.
Inkjet Print on Platine Fibre Rag, 29.7cm x 42cm.

Despair, 2014.
Inkjet Print on Platine Fibre Rag, 29.7cm x 21cm. 

Spectres is a self-portraiture series that is deeply personal, yet simultaneously speaks to the ghosts within us all. The images elicit the unstable senses of self that I – we – grapple with daily. Using spirit photographs of my doppelgängers, Spectres explores inner turmoil, conflict, mediation and despair. Pared back to the metaphysics of first principles, this psychologically-driven work questions the coherence of identity.

The exploration is underpinned by a range of concepts and practices from philosophy and photography. The fundamental concept is Derrida’s notion of hauntology, which uses the figure of the ghost to contest the stability of ontology, the metaphysical understanding of being, existence and reality. In French, hauntologie and ontologie are homophones, and Derrida thus uses the uncertainty of speech and language – the media for telling stories about ourselves – to unsettle our certainty of selfhood and our sense of being-in-the-world.

Ontology – our being, selfhood and identity – is not fixed but volatile. Our sense of self is haunted, evinced by the figure of the ghost. The ghost deconstructs presence/absence, past/future and here/there. Instead of a stable sense of self, we are haunted by past selves, which are also future visions of ourselves. Past and future selves collide in the present. When the absent erupts within the present, selfhood is fractured, identity deferred, and uncertainty begets turmoil and despair.

In Spectres, this metaphysics is examined through concepts and practices used in past and contemporary photography. The series combines spirit and doppelgänger photography to explore the inner conflicts of multiple selves. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, spirit photographers attempted to capture the spectral world, though their ghost-images were fraudulent. This does not mean our own ghosts are false, and I use spirit photography to convey the experience of fractured selves. Practitioners such as William Mumler (US, 1832-1884) and William Hope (UK, 1863-1933) used multiple exposures to render ghosts. Spectres uses double-exposure to expose my own ghosts.

In doing so, the series also draws on doppelgänger photography to enliven the interactions between my fractured selves. The doppelgänger is a ‘double walker’, the ghostly double of a living person, often seen as a harbinger of bad luck and an omen of death. Cornelia Hediger’s (US, b. Switzerland 1967) self-portraiture series, Doppelgänger and Doppelgänger II, explore her doppelgänger’s affects on self. Through meticulous self-choreography, she builds ensembles of doppelgängers to examine alter egos and split personalities. Which figure is the doppelgänger? They are all Hediger: she is her ghostly double. 

Spectres joins Hediger’s careful composition with double-exposure. Some images convey my doppelgängers as translucent, ghostly figures melting into the landscape; others render them opaque, tangible and capable of physical contact. The ‘black-curtained’ portraits are internally-focused and self-probing; the landscape images suggest openness and possibility. The aim is to speculate on my changing perceptions of my own fractured selves. If I accept that selfhood is fractured and deferred, then my selves’ perceptions of each other also move in and out of focus. Spectres explores the shifting conflicts, conciliations and despondency within me – and within you.

Selected Bibliography 

Cannilla, Giuseppe, Paolo Musu and Stella Sanctacaterina (1989) Ghost Photography: Illusion of the Visible (Mystfest, Milano).

Dawson, Alec (2014) (accessed 20 May 2014).

Derrida, Jacques (1994) Spectres of Marx (Routledge, New York).

Hediger, Cornelia  (2012) (accessed 15 April 2014).

Levy, Adam Harrison (2010) The puzzle of the self: Cornelia Hediger’s doppelgängers, Photo Technique, March/April, 23-28.

Wojcik, Daniel (2009) Spirits, apparitions, and traditions of supernatural photography, Visual Resources: An International Journal of Documentation 25 (1-2): 109-136.

Installation photograph, COFA, D Block, 16 June 2014.

Spectral Self-Portrait, Thanks to Derrida

Spectral Self-Portrait, Thanks to Derrida, 2014.
Inkjet print on gallery gloss, 42cm x 59.4cm.

Who am I? How do I understand my fractured and shifting sense of selfhood? Spectral Self-Portrait takes up Jacque Derrida's notion of hauntology, which uses the figure of the spectre, or the ghost, to deconstruct the surety of ontology, the metaphysics of being, existence and reality. The ghost is an uncertain and ethereal figure that contests binaries of being/becoming, presence/absence and past/future. A hauntological approach to identity and selfhood reveals that how I understand myself in the present is always informed by past memories of personal experience, which are at the same time future visions of my-self. On the one hand, my sense of self is stretched across time and space, a changing and evolving dialogue of being and becoming and becoming-undone. On the other hand, past and future selves collapse in the present, deferring a sense of a fixed and unified identity, and unsettling selfhood. 

To convey this sense visually, I draw on the techniques of fin de siecle spirit photography, which used multiple exposure to capture apparitions, ghosts and the spectral world. While spirit photographers falsely represented the ghosts of others, I use the technique of multiple exposure to depict my own ghosts, my own self deferred from and to the past and future. The setting is also liminal space, referencing how hauntology affects the surety of history and landscape as well. This stairwell used to be the grand staircase of a nineteenth century department store located in Newtown, Sydney. It is now a fire escape, the last vestige of a grand building converted to twenty-first century uses. Once peopled by shoppers and their social interactions, this is now a 'haunted' space of human absence. Spectral self and haunted space are co-constituted in this image.