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2009 Event Media Release - Trent Parke Exhibition

Media Release: Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sydney Opera House presents
Please step quietly everyone can hear you

22 October 2009 – 31 January 2010
Western Broadwalk

Free summer outdoor exhibition

“Parke has one of the most vivid visual signatures…his photographs do not observe life so much as contain its contradictions within dense, idiosyncratic tableaux.” Sydney Morning Herald

Australia’s only Magnum photographer Trent Parke will exhibit more than 40 large scale prints on the Sydney Opera House Western Broadwalk this summer.

The free exhibition, Please step quietly everyone can hear you, will open on October 22 in time for Sydney Opera House’s biggest-ever Open Day and will run until January 31, 2010.

Commissioned by Sydney Opera House, Parke spent four weeks across 12 months as an artist in residence shooting behind the scenes.

Sydney Opera House Technical Director David Claringbold conceived the project as a way to capture the magic of life backstage and showcase the sense of community between the different workers at Bennelong Point.

He approached Parke (one of six photographers recommended by critic Robert McFarlane) after researching him on the Internet and found his work to have the gritty aesthetic he was looking for.

“There is an entirely other performance going on behind the scenes whilst the action takes place on the stage. We needed a photographer who wasn’t precious and could live and shoot in the moment. It had to be artistic and not just a photo essay,” Mr Claringbold said.

“Some staff were troubled by his presence but Trent slowly convinced them with a mock up book of about 50 photos so they could see the direction he was heading. He carried it with him everywhere he went – it’s the same way he won over people in the outback and in remote Aboriginal camps.”

An architectural masterpiece and Australian icon – more than 7.4million people visit Bennelong Point and there are 2500 performances a year – Sydney Opera House is also a workplace.

Behind the grand operas and thousand of tourists, electricians set up lights, stage-hands move props, performers eat their lunch in the Green Room and people wait to let the final curtain fall.

One of Australia’s most original photographers, Parke’s eye was drawn to the many details that may ordinarily be overlooked. Working in the dark under strict choreographed logistics, bizarre props and long hours, he has captured with frankness and affection a side of the House few people have seen.

The electric blue and oranges, kilometres of cabling, lines of tape and graphic arrows present a beautiful if baffling picture for the uninitiated. We see wigs without actors, blood-stained props, graffiti on walls and the intestinal ducts of air conditioning.

Parke’s wonderfully observant images capture layers of life and time accumulated over the years.

Alongside the free outdoor exhibition at Sydney Opera House, Stills Gallery in Paddington will display a selection of more than 60 images from October 29 to November 28.

Nathan McIlroy, Senior Publicist, Sydney Opera House
02 9250 7596 / 0434 146 121 /


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