April 04, 2014

Friday Round Up - 4 April, 2014

This week on Friday Round Up it's all about books (almost). Chris Hondros Testament, Anastasia Taylor-Lind's Maidan Portraits, City of Darkness Revisited and Rennie Ellis' Decadent. Plus a photo essay from Chris Jordan on the growing mountains of consumer waste in the US.

Book Review:
Testament – Chris Hondros

Monrovia, Liberia: A child Liberian militia soldier loyal to the government walks away from firing while another taunts. 2003. From Testament, photographs by Chris Hondros/Getty Images, text by Chris Hondros, published by powerHouse Books 

Within the covers of Testament sit the images of a master storyteller. Even though these photographs depict the horrors of war, through the blood, mayhem and destruction are the voices of those who came under the gaze of the late Chris Hondros, an American photojournalist. Here the wounded child, the frantic medic, the weeping father, the fatigued soldier, the displaced and the forgotten, the conquerors and the conquered are given the opportunity to speak. 

In 2010 Hondros wrote: “Always I try to keep my work focused on the people most impacted by these conflicts: The Iraqis and Afghans themselves, caught in the cauldron of post-9/11 geopolitics, and the American servicemen and servicewomen sent into harm’s way in unfamiliar lands”. The pictures and words in Testament are evidence of his intention and command our attention in the raw emotion that his photographs educe.

Caught in heavy mortar fire Hondros was killed in Misurata, Libya in April, 2011 doing the job he loved. He was only 41 years old and had spent much of his adult life covering the world’s hot spots - Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Liberia, Egypt, and Libya amongst others. Yet despite the horrors he was exposed to Hondros never lost his compassion, or his resolve…(click here on the Book Reviews to read the full review of Testament and see more images)

Photo Essay:
Chris Jordan – Intolerable Beauty

American photographer Chris Jordan's series "Intolerable Beauty: Portraits of American Mass Consumption" is fascinating and terrifying at the same time. The rampant consumption of the West, which countries like China and India want to emulate, has resulted in masses of waste that threaten to choke the planet. Jordan's photographs are interesting compositions, almost abstract at times, yet the message is clear.

Jordan shot this series from 2003-2005, and one can only imagine the increases in volumes of waste since that time. Of this project Jordan writes: “I find evidence of a slow-motion apocalypse in progress. I am appalled by these scenes, and yet also drawn into them with awe and fascination. The immense scale of our consumption can appear desolate, macabre, oddly comical and ironic, and even darkly beautiful; for me its consistent feature is a staggering complexity”.

Car chassis 
Circuit boards (above and below)

Mobile phones


(C) All images Chris Jordan

To see more of Jordan’s work visit his website here.  

Kickstarter Project:
Book - City of Darkness Revisited

In the 1980s Kowloon's Walled City had the reputation of being the "most densely populated place on the planet" and one of the most dangerous. Here photographers Greg Girard and Ian Lambot spent five years documenting this melting pot of humanity. At one point 50,000 people lived here in more than 300 "interconnected high-rise buildings," ramshackle dwellings that were piled on top of each other as others moved into the already over-crowded city. Many dwellings had virtually no ventilation; here in the windowless rooms lived entire families, along with their pets. The only place residents could get a breath of fresh air was on the rooftops. 

Originally a community of squatters the Walled City became known for its violence and crime, yet despite the brothels, gambling dens and drug dealers, and the abject squalor, many residents lived in harmony. When the government finally decided to demolish the city residents were devastated at the thought of leaving their homes. The city was emptied in 1992 and demolished the following year. 

 (C) All images Greg Girard and Ian Lambot

In 1999 the pair published City of Darkness: Life in Kowloon Walled City. This book is now out of print, but the Girard and Lambot are working on a second publication, which will feature the content from the original book plus new sections. If you would like to support this project, visit the Kickstarter page here.

Anastasia Taylor-Lind - Maidan Portraits

UK photographer Anastasia Taylor-Lind’s series of portraits of anti-government protestors and mourners were taken in a makeshift studio she set up in Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square), Kiev in February this year. At the time Taylor-Lind was working on her long-term project exploring population decline in Europe when the protesters in Kiev came under siege. Now Gost Books (UK) is publishing "Maidan - Portraits from the Black Square," her first book. Pre-orders are open and the book will be published in limited edition in July, 2014. Visit Gost Books here.

(C) All images Anastasia Taylor-Lind

Exhibition & Book Launch:
Decadent - Rennie Ellis

At the Monash Gallery of Art (Melbourne) tomorrow actor Michael Caton will officially launch “Decadent” the latest book from one of Australia’s most prolific photographers, the late Rennie Ellis.

Decadent:1980-2000 is the companion book to Ellis’ Decade:1970-1980, which was released late last year. Decadent, which is encased in a shiny gold cover, documents the hedonism of the eighties in particular, and the shifting values in Australian society. Within its pages there is no shortage of photographs of men and women bearing their all - in strip clubs, sex parlours, nightclubs and on the beach. 

One of the outstanding "nude" photographs, in terms of the complexity of its communication, is the irreverent "Nude Day at Gaslight Records.”  Here totally unclad men and women stand around chatting and sipping drinks as if they were at a nudist colony and not in one of the most popular record shops. It speaks volumes to the freedom of that era.

In amongst the stream of photographs of breasts, penises and drunken partygoers are also surprisingly intimate portraits of the rich and powerful; a photograph of then tycoon Alan Bond in his bedroom (below) points to the access Ellis had across the social stratum and to his diversity as a visual chronicler. 

 (C) All Images Rennie Ellis Archive

Decadent and The Rennie Ellis Show both launch tomorrow
Saturday 5 April, 3pm
Monash Gallery of Art
Visit the website for more details
Decadent: 1980-2000 is published by Hardie Grant

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