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The New Black

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Trent Parke, Australia, b. 1971, Slippery dip, Gundegal, New South Wales, 2007, © Trent Parke/Magnum Photos

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Black has been used throughout history to signify death and mourning.

The black rose, natures’ emblem of mortality.

The strange, hardy plant marks the beginning of new things, the release of the past to make way for the present.

Walking through Trent Parke’s photographic exhibition The Black Rose, we witness the universe evolve, life begin and ceremoniously end.

Pollen caught in a spider web echoes constellations, while the decomposing remains of road kill mimics the Milky Way.

In an endeavour to uncover his loss, Parke undresses to sacrifice himself as a symbol of the human condition.

He reclaims forgotten memories linked with tragedy experienced as a child.

Life, death, joy and grief sit side-by-side, battling for our attention.

Following warm and energised imagery of the birth of Parke’s son, we find his mother's hair, quiet and still upon a crisp white thrown. This small particle, found years later, wrapped around a hot roller, is all that is left of her. Mums’ hair (Adelaide, 2010) appears deadpan. The flat line of a heart monitor.  

In his search for the lost memories of his mother and childhood, Parke acknowledges grief as the purveyor and the motivation to move forward. To welcome the new we must let go of the old.