August 09, 2013

Friday Round Up - 9 August

This week on Friday Round Up Luke Hardy's 'karaoke' opens in Sydney, one week until the Ballarat International Foto Biennale, the final instalment in tIMpAGE Unseen - Cuba, Éditions Bessard’s Zine Collection available online, and essential reading for those interested in the continuing shifts in the print media world. Have a great weekend wherever you are.

Luke Hardy – karaoke

Photographic artist Luke Hardy has used the definition of the Japanese word karaoke – “empty orchestra” – as a metaphor through which he explores more complex themes of self and identity in his latest exhibition ‘karaoke,’ which opens tomorrow in Sydney at Arthere.

Here the act of singing along to popular tunes in front of strangers in public bars takes on new meaning, moving beyond the simplistic notion of bravado and self-gratification to reveal a world that is also filled with longing and doubt.

Hardy, who began his career as a documentary photographer, has successfully transitioned into the world of photographic art, but in this photo essay his documentary narrative skills are evident as he captures the nuances of those who perhaps use the “empty orchestra” as a soundtrack to their lives. 

Shot in Thailand over the past decade at varying intervals, Hardy’s ‘karaoke’ while not intentionally anthropological certainly has threads that position it in a certain period of time - the desire to be in the spotlight, if only in a dimly lit bar in the middle of the night, reading lyrics from a video screen and singing along to another’s song is a phenomenon that didn’t exist before 1970 when the word ‘karaoke’ was coined.

Hardy’s ‘karaoke’ collection is somewhat conceptually different to his more ethereal and mystical work that draws on “Japanese legends and romantic ghost stories,” but he says these karaoke photographs “nagged at me and so I decided I had to do something with them”.

Harbouring a fascination and love for Japanese culture it is not surprising that Hardy’s first experience of karaoke was in Japan during a visit in the early 2000s. In Japan karaoke is a highly sociable activity, where often the audience sings along, friends encourage each other and there is rowdy applause. In contrast the Thai karaoke scene suggests a more solitary pursuit and it is this theme that sparked Hardy’s imagination.

“I was surprised that there wasn’t the social atmosphere I’d experienced in Japan. In Thailand people wait to sing their song and they don’t respond to others. Sometimes people will sing to empty rooms and often it is to older types of pop songs that used to be popular. They’ll sing with their backs to the room facing the TV screen or sit with a microphone at the bar.” 

In these images Hardy began to see connections with his other photo essays that explore the “idea of becoming something from what you are doing…that threshold between the real and imagined self. I started to wonder about what was going on with someone in their heart and their head, what made them want to go to karaoke, some every night, others to multiple bars in one night”.

He says this collection captures a “state of mind, the vicarious experience of what the song might be about, the experience of being a pop star” all of which feed into the notion of “becoming”.

One of the most poignant aspects of ‘karaoke’ is that Hardy has chosen to also feature photographs that are counterpoints to the public displays of the karaoke singers allowing the viewer to journey with a subject as he travels home and falls asleep, wasted, and alone. 

But these images are also at times playful and the use of subtitles written across the photograph in both Thai and English evoke a sense of irreverence and toy with the banality of the lyrics of popular love songs. Also Hardy’s “rhyming colour schemes where some images are biased towards purple and violet, and others blue or green or red” come together as visual verses and choruses that like their musical counterparts, tell a story.

Luke Hardy’s exhibition “karaoke” opens tomorrow at Arthere in Sydney’s Redfern. 
All images (C) Luke Hardy

Opening event: Saturday 10 August 2-5pm
Showing until 17 August
126 Regent St, Redfern (Sydney)
Wed - Sat 12-5pm or by appointment


Ballarat International Foto Biennale - One Week To Go

If you are heading down to Ballarat for next weekend's opening of the 5th instalment of the Ballarat International Foto Biennale, put these two events in your diary:

John Cato Retrospective and Book Launch 
Saturday 17th August
Mining Exchange, 12 Lydiard Street North, Ballarat 

Check out Alison Stieven-Taylor’s interview with filmmaker Paul Cox, co-curator for the John Cato Retrospective, in tomorrow’s Weekend Australian Magazine (10 August). 

Paul Cox portrait by Marty Williams 2013

BIFB’13 Official Launch Party
Saturday 17 August
Mining Exchange
All welcome, free entry

For more information please visit the website here

More tIMpAGE Unseen – the Final Cuban Instalment

(C) Tim Page - Cuba

To view the final instalment of Tim Page's unpublished work from Cuba please click on the Tim Page link at the top of this blog. And stay tuned for more images to come...

Self-Published and Limited Editions Online 

AnzenbergerGallery, in Vienna, has launched an online bookshop, which stocks rare, self-published, signed and limited edition photography books. The site features Éditions Bessard’s Zine Collection, which includes works by Australian Max Pam. Check it out here

Worth reading:
Shifts Continue in the Print Media Market

The continuing upheaval in the print media market affects both textural journalists and photojournalists. In the past week three major titles have changed hands – Newsweek, The Washington Post and The Boston Globe with the owners of the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times planning to split the company. Check out the links below for more information.

Washington Post Sold
New York Times Sells Boston Globe 
Newsweek Sold to IBT Media 
Tribune to Split into Two Companies

Enjoy the weekend. 

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