Holly Best

Singapore / Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1987

Portrait of my Mother

  • 2016
  • Pigment print
  • Gift of the Friends of Christchurch Art Gallery, 2017
  • 537 x 409mm
  • 2017/011.a-b

In Portrait of My Mother Ōtautahi artist Holly Best uses image and text to describe a common photographic failure. In this charming family photograph, Holly appears to have accidentally cut the heads off the sitters. The image is paired with a text in which she claims this was her earliest memory of using a camera, but is she a reliable narrator? Even at a young age she seems to have been aware of the complex relationship between photographer and subject, and the control an artist has over the meaning of a work through focus and framing. The headless composition emphasises the body language of the siblings and subtly conveys the social dynamics, gendered style of crossing legs and special occasion fashion of the mid-90s. Apparent failure or intentional fabrication, we are compelled to consider the photographic conventions that underpin portraiture.

(Perilous: Unheard Stories from the Collection, 6 August 2022- )

Exhibition History