Exhibition review: Alltervatn

Further information

The opinions expressed in Trove are those of individual contributors and not those of the editoral committee or the steering committee (as editorial advisers) or UWA.


Reviewed by Krista Tanuwibawa

Edited by Siobhan Hodge

Exhibition: Alltervatn
Artist: Jarrad Seng
Location: Myre Building, Fremantle
Duration: 6 October 2013 – 8 November 2015

Known mostly for his portraiture photography, Jarrad Seng presented a series of abstract photos for his second solo exhibition at the Myre building in Fremantle, a young and thriving cultural hub.

The photographs were taken from a plane over the unique natural terrains of Iceland. From afar, one could easily mistake the images for abstract, modernist paintings. Analogous colours blend into each other in a way that paints of low viscosity would behave on a canvas; organic textures resemble an artist’s swift brushstrokes; and blocks of colour contrast strongly with the ambiguous primordial forms beneath them. Undoubtedly some of these photographs evoked the stylistic imagery of Robert Matta’s painting “Listening to Living”, a modernist portrayal of geothermic landscapes, in my mind.

When you approach Seng’s photographs at an intimate distance, familiar objects and landforms become visible: trees scattered among rocky ground, a savagely flowing waterfall suspended in motion, a river’s delta. However, the strange angular perspectives that we are given, and the stunning landscape in itself, create an unusual transcendence between the natural earth and an otherworldly, even non-physical, state.

In media interviews, Seng reveals that the title of the exhibition, Alltervatn, is a combination of Icelandic words meaning “everything is water”, yet when I asked him during my visit, he only told me that it was an amalgamation of words which ultimately has no meaning. To me, this merely emphasises Seng’s intent for viewers to perceive the photographic images as they are rather than trying to connect the visual compositions to concrete phenomenon.

Seng offers a vivid perspective of a part of the world that few, particularly Australians, have the chance to see for themselves. In curious exploration of a foreign landscape, his venture into aerial photography is bold and does not disappoint. Exhibiting a powerful sense of the surreal from the real shows Seng’s incredible talent and versatility as a photographer.

While Alltervatn is no longer exhibiting, keep an eye out for Seng’s future works and exhibitions. Having shot landscape scenes and portraits from all over the world, weddings, fashion exhibitions, and toured with musicians to photograph live performances and music videos, there’s definitely still much more to see from this young photographer’s career.
Jarrad Seng’s website and portfolio can be visited at: www.jarradseng.com