Untitled (Tram Windows series, image 4) 2019
Untitled (Tram Windows series, image 4)
gelatin silver print
Dimensions (H x W x D)
57.8 x 39.3 cm
City of Melbourne Art and Heritage Collection,
© Yanni Florence
This photograph is one of 10 in the collection made by Melbourne-based photographer and book designer Yanni Florence, from his series ‘Tram Windows’. The silver gelatin photographs were acquired from his solo exhibition of the same name, held at Melbourne’s ReadingRoom from 8 to 31 August 2019 – incidentally, sited right opposite the Swanston Street tram stop at which he took many of the photographs.
The subject of this series is not merely the candidly captured individual but also the glassy surface that separates photographer and sitter, as well as the interplay between this surface and the sitter, and sometimes, too, between photographer and sitter. As a mode of portraiture, these works are subtle, nuanced and open, and the more one looks the more they offer. Florence defamiliarises the familiar, as our gaze registers and ranges across the image’s surface and strata, from glass to sitter to the darkened interior beyond.
Using a Nikon 750 camera and a long lens, Florence has captured private moments of contemplation, with the scratched and rain-pocked windows conceivably intimating the complexities and jagged lines that often score and shape human lives. In an era of social distancing, these portraits of pensive solitary sitters are reminders that we always were alone together. Arguably, the scored windows – small acts of vandalism – might also be considered symptomatic of the social life of trams. Not simply people-movers, public transport vehicles are surfaces and stages for acts and engagements, and this too is chronicled in Florence’s suite of photographs.