Austria 1902 – Australia 1985
14 June 1948, Parramatta River, Sydney [self-portrait]
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Materials & Technique: photographs, gelatin silver photograph
Margaret Michaelis’s self-portrait has been brought to completion as a public statement, enlarged to exhibition scale and beautifully printed.
The mouth of the Parramatta River, represented as a semi-industrial wasteland, is a peculiar setting for a self-portrait. Michaelis does not face the camera, as one would expect, but poses with her back to the viewer. She gazes out of the frame towards a view that offers no prospect of beauty or escape.
Resonant with metaphor, the image was taken in the years after the Second World War when Michaelis had begun the slow, painful process of discovering what had happened to her family and friends during the Holocaust
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra