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

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