March 28, 2014

Friday Round Up - 28 March, 2014

This week on Friday Round Up - Roger Ballen in interview, two new exhibitions for Melbourne - Prahran 40 and Stephen Dupont, plus Robin Hammond's Pro Photo feature and more.

Exhibition: Hobart
Roger Ballen – MONA

Exciting news just in. The Roger Ballen exhibition and installation at MONA (Hobart) has been extended until the 28th July. Earlier this week Alison Stieven-Taylor interviewed Roger Ballen about his latest book Asylum of the Birds and he confirmed the extended season. Her full interview and book review will be posted in April to coincide with the book’s availability in Australia, but to whet your appetite an excerpt from the interview…

“There are three things of mine at MONA,” says Ballen. “An installation I built, plus three pictures from my next series in another room. And thirdly there is one room that has about 18 photographs from Asylum of the Birds, so three shows of mine there at the same time.”

The idea of seeing the photographs from Asylum of the Birds in a large format is enticing as these works are multi-faceted and require some time to digest. Ballen’s aesthetic is somewhat surreal when you consider these photographs are as is, straight out of the camera with only minor tweaking in the darkroom; he still shoots on film with the Rolleiflex he’s used since 1982.

There is no post-production, no collage work, no Photoshopping confirms Ballen. Each shot is a self-contained artwork featuring found items as well as the human and animal inhabitants of this labyrinthine house that is somewhere in Johannesburg; Ballen has kept the location secret, although he admits those in South Africa have little interest. It is the international media who want him to reveal its location. “You know a magician never reveals his tricks,” he says.

In describing the house he tells me it is like a “Salvation Army place you’d find in Melbourne”. I’m not sure about that, but I understand the correlation; the inhabitants here are largely displaced people, living communally out of necessity. The fact that they live in such numbers, and with such a population of animals – chickens, pigs, dogs and birds – is as Ballen says par for the course in the densely populated areas of South Africa, but alien to urban Melbourne. 

I ask him if he goes into each shoot with a preconceived notion of what he is hoping to achieve. “I never have any ideas before I start,” he says matter-of-factly. “The pictures are an evolutionary process. I‘m going to take pictures in a few hours from now and I have no idea and no interest in thinking about what I am going to do. I just go there because this is visual reality I am relating to and a lot of it revolves around the instantaneous, which is what photography is about in so many ways...I don’t have to really think about anything…I just focus when I get there, confident of what I do and determined to get things right”.

He says his body of work has evolved over a long period of time and Asylum of the Birds alone was more than five years in the making. “It has been a long process, a lot of hard work, struggle, concentration, a lot of time and money, and a lot of passion. All these things have contributed to what I do. I don’t do work for other people, I don’t think about other people, I hope other people are affected in a positive way, but I’m not trying to out guess the market, or figure out what will sell, what will do this or that. I just do it for myself…I am not creating art for commercial purposes. I think the day I do that I will quit. That is the last thing I will do...”(from an interview with Alison Stieven-Taylor)

All images (C) Roger Ballen Asylum of the Birds

Roger Ballen at MONA
Museum of Old and New Art
655 Main Road Berriedale
Hobart (Tasmania) 
Until 28th July, 2014

Exhibition: Melbourne
Stephen Dupont – Edmund Pearce

In this exhibition - The White Sheet Series No. 01 – Sydney-based photographer Stephen Dupont has created a series of artworks from portraits he took of visitors and pilgrims to Kumbh Mela, the most important Hindu Festival held in India four times every 12 years. Kumbh Mela attracts tens of millions who come to celebrate and bathe in one of four sacred rivers the location and time dictated by the zodiacal charts.

With this series Dupont, who is best known for his photojournalism work, has used Indian textile stamps to decorate the borders of the images, creating intricate patterns that frame the portraits in rich reds.

All images (C) Stephen Dupont

Opens Thursday 3rd April 6pm

Edmund Pearce Gallery
Until May 3
Level 2, Nicholas Building
37 Swanston Street (corner Flinders Lane)

Exhibition: Melbourne
Prahran 40 – Photonet

(C) Geoff Strong

In the 1970s, in the inner Melbourne suburb of Prahran, a cultural revolution was taking place. Behind the façade of the Prahran College of Advanced Education artistic anarchy ruled in what filmmaker, and then teacher, Paul Cox labels Australia’s “little Bauhaus,” after the landmark school in the German Weimar Republic where art and education united in an explosion of creativity in the years following the First World War. 

Class of 1974

This Sunday at Photonet Galllery in Melbourne’s Fairfield an exhibition bringing together a number of photographers who studied at Prahran in its nascent years will open. The Prahran College Retrospective Exhibition 2014 features works from a number of formers students although the list is not exhaustive. 

Portrait of Melbourne photographer and Prahran teacher Athol Shmith. Photographer unknown*

Photographers included in the retrospective:
James McArdle
Colin Abbott
Chris Atkins
Peter Bowes
Andrew Chapman
Kim Corbel
Christina De Water
Clive Hutchison
Peter Kelly
William (Bill) Kelly
Paul Lambeth
Derek Lee
Jim Mcfarlane
Julie Millowick
Glen O'malley
Martin Paten
Geoff Strong
Peter Van Der Veer

Opening Sunday 30 March at 4pm
Photonet Gallery
Until 17 April
15a Railway Place

(*Please note we asked for the names of the photographers of the uncredited images posted here, but haven’t received them. Once we get them we will add credits, as we always do).

Pro Photo - Out Now
Robin Hammond Feature Interview

Alison Stieven-Taylor’s interview with photojournalist Robin Hammond features over five pages in the current issue of Pro Photo magazine which is out now.

Exhibition: Melbourne

A Selection of Works by Wolfgang Sievers

Considered one of the world's great industrial and architectural photographers, Wolfgang Sievers (1913-2007), a student of Bauhaus, fled Nazi Germany for Australia at the outbreak of WWII. In 1939 he opened his photographic studio in Melbourne and became one of Australia’s most renowned photographers with his work collected here and internationally.

When he died in 2007 he bequeathed his print archive to Human Rights lawyer and advocate Julian Burnside AO QC, with all proceeds from the sale of these works going to the pursuit of human rights. All proceeds from this exhibition go to human rights causes. 

(C) Wolfgang Sievers Archive

As Michael Shmith, former Arts Editor of The Age, and son of the late Athol Shmith an icon in Melbourne photographic circles, said at the opening of this exhibition - Wolfgang had the extraordinary ability to make even industrial photographs look sexy. Don't miss out on a chance to purchase one of these remarkable originals, many of which are signed.

Until 5 April, 2014
fortyfive downstairs
45 Flinders Lane

March 21, 2014

Friday Round Up - 21 March, 2014

This week on Friday Round Up Trent Parke's new exhibition, breathtaking landscapes on show in Sydney, an exhibition in Melbourne to raise funds for Human Rights, a photo essay on Grozny and more.

MikiNobu Komatsu - Selected Works

Having taken photographs in both hemispheres there is no doubt the light in Australia, and New Zealand, is very different to the softer light in Europe, or the light of neighboruing Asia, where pollution in the atmosphere often masks the horizon and humidity leaves the air thick with noise.

Here we still have the benefit of relatively clean air bringing a true clarity of light, which Japanese-born photographer MikiNobu Komatsu says “is vivid and obvious. This “rich and strong light” captured Komatsu’s imagination when he first came to Australia in the late 1970s. Since that time he has created a vast body of work focusing on landscapes in both Australia and New Zealand the latter of which is the subject of his Selected Works exhibition currently on show in Sydney at Black Eye Gallery.

Comparing the light of the Antipodes to his homeland, Komatsu says, “Here the light is much more visible. Every moment is so interesting, the way light changes from early morning to late afternoon and sunset…it’s such a different quality. When I arrived in Australia for the first time in my life I started to look at what was around me, at my environment. I became intrigued by what I saw and that’s what inspired me to start taking photographs”.

(C) All Images MikiNobu Komatsu

For the past 30 years Komatsu has focused his lens on the environment, particularly drawn to remote vistas where sky and earth meet in soaring mountains and vales, where waters reflect the light in steel-like tones and where frosty nights and clear days bring endless visual stimuli.

The exhibition at Black Eye features around 25 works, which are taken from Komatsu’s self-published book ‘Light Moods South’. The book features Haiku poetry alongside each image. “I like the simplicity of Haiku, but it also has depth, what you could call complex simplicity, so it complements my photographs because they are both simple and layered also.”

“I like to think that my photographs convey the emotions I felt shooting at that moment when I encountered such beauty in nature,” he concludes.

Until 6 April
Artist Talk – Saturday 22nd March 2pm
MikiNobu Komatsu Selected Works
Black Eye Gallery
3/138 Darlinghurst Road
Darlinghurst (Sydney) 

Exhibition: Melbourne
A Selection of Works by Wolfgang Sievers
Raising funds for Human Rights Causes
"Gears"Wolfgang Sievers

Considered one of the world's great industrial and architectural photographers, Wolfgang Sievers (1913-2007), a student of Bauhaus, fled Nazi Germany for Australia at the outbreak of WWII. In 1939 he opened his photographic studio in Melbourne and became one of Australia’s most renowned photographers with his work collected here and internationally.

When he died in 2007 he bequeathed his print archive to Human Rights lawyer and advocate Julian Burnside AO QC, with all proceeds from the sale of these works going to the pursuit of human rights. His final public speech, which consisted entirely of three words, encapsulated his desire for humanity: "One word. Compassion".

Burnside says his association with Sievers began around 2003 when he bought a series of 92 framed photographs. The pair struck a friendship and before he died Sievers gave Burnside his collection of prints to use as he saw fit in order to benefit human rights causes.

“He drove around to my place one day and delivered all of these boxes, about 14 of them”. Inside one box was a print of his now famous “Gears” photograph (above) with a Post It note saying ‘this is the best print of this photograph ever’. Sievers was an absolute perfectionist, and the significance of this handwritten note is not lost on Burnside who is holding back that photograph in the hope that it will command a high price. “I won’t take less that $50,000 for that one,” he says.

Burnside believes the popularity of Sievers work, which has increased posthumously, is “partly because people with the right money can see the quality of the work and know that there won’t be anymore around. Also people do respond to the fact that proceeds go to human rights causes and not into someone’s pocket”.

An exhibition of 51 photographs taken by Sievers between 1933 and 1977 opens in Melbourne on Tuesday 25th March, presented by Liberty Victoria. 

(C) All images Wolfgang Sievers Archive

25 March to 5 April, 2014
fortyfive downstairs
45 Flinders Lane

Photo Essay:
Grozny: Nine Cities 

Grozny: Nine Cities is a project by three Russian photographers - Oksana Yushko, Olga Kravets and Maria Morina – who have been documenting the societal shifts in this war-torn capital of Chechnya since 2009. Of their ongoing study the trio says “Our project Grozny: Nine Cities is inspired by a Thornton Wilder book, Theophilus North, and centers on the idea of nine cities being hidden in one, which gives us a concept to explore specific aspects of the aftermath of two Chechen wars considering them as 'cities' hidden within Grozny.” Here are a selection of images taken by Oksana Yushko. 

(C) All images Oksana Yushko

To find out more about this project click here.

Exhibition: Sydney
Trent Parke – The Camera is God (street portrait series) 

Opening next week at Stills Gallery in Sydney is Trent Parke’s latest exhibition. In this show Parke, who is the only Australian member of Magnum Photos, takes us back to his street photography roots with a series of photographs featuring anonymous people standing on street corners. Here “Parke’s camera is all-seeing, non-judgmental, indiscriminate. If you stand before it, unwittingly, it will see you. If the timing is right, it might capture you. Within this sequence of images, a beautiful alchemy takes place – a combination of life and chance, light and photographic chemicals. The resulting body of work allows us to see anew and to find ourselves amongst the crowd. In installation, around the gallery walls, the portraits are encompassing, turning the tables on who in the gallery might be the viewers and the viewed.” 

(C) All images Trent Parke courtesy of Stills Gallery

26 March to 3 May 2014
Stills Gallery
36 Gosbell Street
Paddington (Sydney)

Exhibition: Melbourne
Reminder: Opening Saturday 22 March 

(C) Paul Batt

This group show features works from the Monash Alumni including Daniel Boetker-Smith, Ross Coulter, Siri Hayes, Kristian Häggblom, Katrin Koenning, Georgia Metaxas and Paul Batt. Opening tomorrow.

Trocadero Art Space
Level 1
119 Hopkins Street
Footscray Melbourne
19 March to 5 April
Opening event Saturday 22 March 4-6pm

March 14, 2014

Friday Round Up - 14 March 2014

This week on Friday Round Up a feature interview with Indian master photographer Raghu Rai, Melbourne street photographer Jesse Marlow launches his new book, Robin Hammond continues to clock up awards for his work on the mental health crisis in Africa, exhibitions, talks and more.

Feature Interview:
Warm Heart Cool Eye - Raghu Rai
In interview with Alison Stieven-Taylor

(C) Raghu Rai

In 2012 Raghu Rai visited Australia for what was to become the last Foto Freo festival. Here is an excerpt from Alison Stieven-Taylor's interview with one of the great Indian photographers of the last century. 

When young photographers ask for advice Raghu tells them - "I want to uproot you and toss you in the air. When you come down, you don’t put your steps on anyone else’s footsteps and you don’t step on your own footsteps. Define your own approach. Nature will offer you something. Try to discover a moment, rather than allowing everything to happen in your head. Life has so much magic happening all the time, but if we are just shooting with our heads then the world of photography becomes very boring. My personal journey, my exploration, for myself has been to invest my mind, body and soul in my photography..." to read the full article click the Feature Articles tab at the top of the blog or here.

Book Release:
Jesse Marlow - Don't Just Tell Them Show Them

On Wednesday 19 March Jesse Marlow will launch his new book at the Centre for Contemporary Photography in Melbourne. Alison Stieven-Taylor's interview with Jesse will appear as a feature article soon, but for now here's a visual teaser.

(C) All images Jesse Marlow

Don't Just Tell Them Show Them
Launched by Shaune Laikin Director, Monash Gallery of Art
Centre for Contemporary Photography
Wednesday 19 March
404 George Street
Fitzroy Melbourne
Published by M.33
For more information about the book visit M.33

To see more of Jesse Marlow's work click here

More Awards for
Robin Hammond's "Condemned"

Adding to his already impressive list of awards for his work - “Condemned: Mental Health in African Countries in Crisis”- including the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund Grant in Humanistic Photography, the FotoEvidence Book Award (both 2013), POYi World Understanding (2014) and World Press Photo Awards (2014), Robin Hammond has also been awarded a special jury prize in the Days International Japan Photojournalism Awards 2014.

Robin's success is well-deserved and the worldwide recognition of this extremely impressive, and important body of work, is only matched by Robin's unshakeable commitment to telling this story. You can read Alison Stieven-Taylor's interview with Robin about this work on L'Oeil de la Photographie

To buy the book visit FotoEvidence
To see more of Robin Hammond's work visit his website

Exhibition: Melbourne
Formality - Group Show 

(C) Georgia Metaxas

(C) Paul Batt

(C) Siri Hayes

Curated by Paul Batt, this group show features works from the Monash Alumni including Daniel Boetker-Smith, Ross Coulter, Siri Hayes, Kristian Häggblom, Katrin Koenning, Georgia Metaxas and Paul Batt who says, 'Formality’ is an examination of the figure with in contemporary Australian photographic practice. The exhibition explores a variety of photographic approaches, ranging from the purely performative to the strictly documentary".

Trocadero Art Space
Level 1
119 Hopkins Street
Footscray Melbourne
19 March to 5 April
Opening event Saturday 22 March 4-6pm

Exhibition & Talk:
In Conversation - Multiculturalism: what are we afraid of?

(C) Louise Whelan

Photographer Louise Whelan continues her visual documentation of Australia's multicultural society in the exhibition "Home: Photographs of Ethnic Communities"which is currently on show at the State Library of NSW. Whelan's book New Settlers was published last year by T&G Publishing. You can read Alison Stieven-Taylor's article on New Settlers in The Weekend Australian Magazine here.

In Conversation:
The issue of multiculturalism in this country is heightened by the continued debate in the community around the Australian government's appalling approach to asylum seekers. In tandem with Whelan's exhibition is the In Conversation event which will feature renowned human rights advocate and lawyer Julian Burnside AO QC, Phil Glendenning from the Refugee Council of Australia, actor and activist Jack Thompson and Louise Whelan.  

In Conversation
Wednesday 19 March
State Library of NSW
Metcalfe Auditorium
(entry via Macquarie Street)
Bookings essential. Visit website for more details.

Home: Photographs of Ethnic Communities
Until 24 August
State Library of NSW

New Settlers