Alone Together: Critical Mass 2023 Top 50

Ewan: Husband, Father, Provider, Carer, Support © Lisa Murray





Opening Reception

Free and open to the public

Saturday, February 24, 2024

5 – 8 pm

Featuring outstanding contemporary photographs by 50 artists from 10 countries,

selected by the who’s who of the international photography community

February 23 – April 13, 2024 



Art exhibit viewing times: Tues. – Fri. (11 am – 5 pm); Sat. (noon – 4 pm)


Organized by Photolucida, Critical Mass invites photographers at any level, from anywhere in the world, to submit a portfolio of 10 images. Thousands of artists submit their best work. From this massive pool of entries, 200 portfolios are selected – and then voted on by 200 leading curators, gallerists, publishers, and other art-world superstars who select the Top 50. 


StreetMax21, Tracy Barbutes, Lynne Breitfeller, Jo Ann Chaus, Diana Cheren Nygren, Cathy Cone, Leah DeVun, Jesse Egner, David Ellingsen, Santiago Escobar-Jaramillo, Argus Paul Estabrook, Marina Font, Adair Freeman Rutledge, Jesse Freidin, Eva Gjaltema, Zoe Haynes-Smith, Sarah Hoskins, Shao-Feng Hsu, Allison Hunter, Michael Joseph, Roshni Khatri, Kazuaki Koseki, Jaume Llorens, Simone Lueck, Krysia Lukkason, Aimee McCrory, Diane Meyer, Frankie Mills, Kevin Bennett Moore, Lisa Murray, Bob Newman, Lou Peralta, Walter Plotnick, Ann Prochilo, André Ramos-Woodward, Nathan Rochefort, Ruddy Roye, Mateo Ruiz Gonzalez, Claudia Ruiz Gustafson, Daniel Sackheim, Leah Schretenthaler, Lauren Semivan and John Shimon, Lindsay Siu, Stephen Starkman, Jamey Stillings, Nolan Streitberger, Krista Svalbonas, Rashod Taylor, Grace Weston, and Michael Young.


For most photographers the act of making an image, the moment itself, is one of ‘happy solitude’ (to borrow from Raymond Depardon). It is no secret or surprise that those who crave periods of quiet contemplation of the world around them are drawn to making images; photography gives them an opportunity to embrace and revel in their alone-ness (note that I didnt use ‘loneliness’). This alone-ness allows us space to process, to ponder, to despair, and to accept – it is most craved when lifes challenges confront us. Famously Masahisa Fukase’s much-lauded photobook Ravens (originally published in 1986, and republished more recently by MACK), emerged from a period of grief after the collapse of his marriage and from his desire to escape to his childhood home island of Hokkaido (Japan’s northernmost island) for solitude. He sought out alone-ness. In the postscript to the book, Akira Hasegawa wrote: “In the case of Masahisa Fukase, the subject of his gaze became the raven. For him, the ‘raven’ was both a tangible creature and a fitting symbol of his own solitude”.

During the process of looking through hundreds of photographs with the remit to select one from each of the 50 shortlisted artists (all of whom, it must be noted, deserve a solo exhibition), with the goal to entwine them together with a thematic thread, it occurred to me that simplicity was the best policy. It is easy to forget sometimes that each image that is ‘made’ has to have a maker, who invariably was ‘there, then’, in the moment. A human was present and necessary for that idea to become physical; the instance was recorded when someone made a decision, and in that moment there was silence, there was the photographer, a camera, a direction and a choice to press the shutter. In that specific time-space the photographer was alone, obsessed with that one frame, brain whirring, and fingers tensed. Alone-ness then is essential to the practice of making photographs.

In the selection process for this exhibition I became obsessed with choosing images that caused me to slow down, to pause, and to consider what alone-ness truly means. I wanted to see if we could reclaim a positive space for being alone. I started to feel that photography IS solitude, (to amend a famous line from Italo Calvino), that one photographs alone, even when in another’s presence. When one is being photographed, as a subject, they are similarly alone faced with a lens and the apparatus behind which the photographer works. The look at the lens, the pose, the freeze, signals the instant of alone-ness. Each photograph in this exhibition provides space for you to ponder, to observe and to be alone in your thoughts. In doing so I ask you to occupy a spot in front of each image, pause, and consider the space each image provides, what does it mean to you? Where does your mind go when you consider the alone-ness presented here?

Perhaps being alone is almost impossible, we are constantly around people, being watched, judged, observed by cameras, and if not our minds are flooded with thoughts of others, and what they would say or do at any given moment. At the same time we can feel entirely alone in the midst of a heaving mass of people, we can be overcome with alone-ness standing within touching distance of someone else. We are forever alone together, or somewhere in-between.

Daniel Boetker-Smith, Director of Australian Centre for Contemporary Photography



Daniel Boetker-Smith is the Director of the Australian Centre for Contemporary Photography, based in Melbourne.

He has curated exhibitions and managed photographic events in Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Aotearoa New Zealand, Ireland, UK, USA.

He regularly writes for a variety of print and online art/photography publications – Foam (Netherlands), British Journal of Photography (UK), Vault (Australia), Voices of Photography (Taiwan), Photoeye (USA), LensCulture (USA), 1000 Words (UK), GUP Magazine, and others.

Daniel is also the Founder of the Asia-Pacific Photobook Archive (est.2013).

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