'This body of work will counter stereotypical myths of Papua New Guinea with honest representations of the people, their culture and identity. It is an attempt to relate the experience of communities that would otherwise just disappear, people at the bottom of a half ruined country.' - Stephen Dupont, 2010 Robert Gardner Fellow in Photography.
Over the past six years, Stephen Dupont has traveled to Papua New Guinea, photographically documenting its changing face and the powerful impact of globalisation on the fabric of Melanesian society. From the effects of violence and lawlessness in Port Moresby to the westernization of traditional society in the Highlands, Raskols and Sing-Sing is an in-depth study of cultural erosion as well as a celebration of an ancient people. The project aims to exploit photography's power 'to move, motivate, and change the world,' says Dupont. It will be "a reflection and a mediation on a unique place, and it may also be seen as a warning for other, seemingly more 'secure' cultures."
Polaroid 665 film renders these prints with a beautiful tonal range and a physical appearance quite unlike other gelatin silver prints. The telltale border is the outcome of splitting apart the negative from positive – an instantaneous print that can be offered to the subject. The negatives are beautiful and finely grained, but also fragile and often haunted by scratches, streaks, or unprocessed corners or holes. The result is a finished print that seems to mesh perfectly with the subject, as if the physical processing of the film somehow captured the essence of each situation.
Dupont is an Australian photographer whose work has appeared in the New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Time and Rolling Stone among other publications. Photography prizes include a Robert Capa Gold Medal citation from the Overseas Press Club of America; a Bayeux War Correspondent's Prize; and first places in the World Press Photo, Pictures of the Year International, the Australian Walkleys and Leica/CCP Documentary Award. In 2007, he was awarded the W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanitarian Photography for his ongoing project in Afghanistan. Dupont has held major exhibitions in London, Paris, New York, Sydney, Canberra, Tokyo and Shanghai. He has participated at Perpignan's Visa Pour L'Image, China's Ping Yao and Holland's Noorderlicht festivals. Dupont's photographs reside in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, National Library of Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, Australian War Memorial, the New York Public Library, Berlin and Munich National Libraries, Stanford University, Yale University, Boston Athenaeum, Minneapolis Institute of Arts and Joy of Giving Something Inc.