May 30, 2014

Friday Round Up - 30 May, 2014

This week on Friday Round Up we look to New Zealand and the 11th Auckland Festival of Photography. Featured today is Alison Stieven-Taylor's interview with this year's commissioned artist, Tanu Gago, a young Samoan exploring cultural identity in the Pacific. Also this week are showcases from Ayala Gazit’s "Was It A Dream", iconic, and controversial photo documentarian Ann Westra’s “Our Future,” Chloe Riddell’s "Memories Enclosed…Handle with Care," and Chinese photographer Yang Jianchuan's Melody of Kunqu Opera. Lots of words and images to prompt thought, so if you're not heading "over the ditch" this year, enjoy this selection.

Festival: New Zealand
The Auckland Festival of Photography

Interview with Tanu Gago

Falency, Moe, Nana From the series: Tama'ita'i Pasifika Mao'i 2014 
(C) Tanu Gago - Auckland Festival of Photography

In Tanu Gago’s new body of work “Tama'ita'i Pasifika Mao'i” commissioned by the 2014 Auckland Photography Festival, this New Zealand artist challenges how Pacific women are represented with the desire to move imagery away from cultural stereotypes. Promulgated by the media and in advertising images Pacific women, and men, tend to be portrayed as symbols of Pacific tourism, or as living on the margins of contemporary society. Both are narrow views that Gago is keen to expunge...please click on the tab above - Feature Articles - to read this story in full and see Gago's photographs.

Selected Exhibitions on this year's theme - "Memory"
The 11th edition of the Auckland Festival of Photography features ten exhibitions concerned with the theme of memory in its Signature Series. Encompassing works by local and international photographers, the Series allows audiences to contemplate the meaning of memory and how time, circumstance and recollection can impact our understanding of ‘what has been’; that unique juxtaposition between the present and the past as described by French philosopher Roland Barthes in his seminal work Camera Lucida.

This week’s selection features Ayala Gazit’s "Was It A Dream", iconic, and controversial photo documentarian Ann Westra’s “Our Future” and Chloe Riddell’s Memories Enclosed…Handle with Care, plus a photo gallery with images from performance artist Tatsumi Orimoto and Chinese photographer Yang Jianchuan.

Ayala Gazit’s "Was It A Dream" is a work created by loss. In this deeply personal work Gazit creates a portrait of a brother she never knew. Born in Israel to an American mother and Israeli father, at the age of 12 Gazit learned she had an older brother, James, living in Australia. But before she could meet him he committed suicide in 1996 ending her dream of knowing her sibling. She says this series of photographs in “Was it a Dream” is her “attempt to create a portrait of my brother whom I will never meet by photographing the ‘un-photographable,’ and following the traces and echoes of one’s existence after his passing”.

(All images C) Ayala Gazit

Was It a DreamAyala Gazit
29 May - 17 June
Silo 6, Wynyard Qtr

Ans Westra has spent much of her life documenting New Zealand’s indigenous people. As a migrant from Europe Westra was fascinated with her new homeland and since the late 1950s she has amassed a collection of images that capture a world few have witnessed from the outside. While her pursuit has not been without controversy she says “No true appraisal of Maori from an outside perspective was happening at the time and their culture seemed to be on the verge of extinction. Arriving here…with a curiosity for humanity gave me a unique place. Though in later years Maori themselves questioned my authority and understanding as an outsider at the same time they gave me a view on their changing world…Now being more involved with documenting and preservation of this beautiful landscape I come to that with the love Maori have for their land, their Turangiwaewae.” In “Our Future” Westra showcases colour works from her book of the same name, along with a range of vintage black and white photographs.

All images (C) Ans Westra

Our Future
Ann Westra
31 May – 15 June
Norman King Square
Ernie Mays Street
Northcote Shopping Centre

In “Memories Enclosed...Handle with Care” New Zealand photographer Chloe Riddell examines what she sees as the “inadequacies of conventional family photography to describe the reality of family life”. Exploring societal ideals and conventions around notions of family life that are perpetuated by the media and popular culture, Riddell juxtaposes the idea of “domestic truth…and family reality” in an attempt to “reclaim my own personal memories” and to frame them in what she labels “family truth”.

All images (C) Chloe Riddell

Chloe Riddell’s Memories Enclosed…Handle with Care
28 May - 7 June
Elam Projectspace Gallery
University of Auckland
20 Whitaker Place

Also featured this year in the “Memory” themed exhibitions are New Zealand photographer Emil McAvoy's “Reflections on Lily Pond,”( 11 June - 21 June) Chinese photographer Yang Jianchuan’s “Melody of Kungqu Opera,” ( 29 May - 17 June) and Japanese performance artist and photographer Tatsumi Orimoto (29 May - 17 June). There is also a group show, Photoforum: History in The Taking; 40 years (6-28 June).

Yang Jianchuan
Melody of Kunqu Opera

"With a history of more than 600 years, Kunqu Opera is known as the “mother of Chinese dramas”, and considered an “orchid” in this field. In Chinese culture, “orchid” is recognized as elegant, neat, and clean; together with plum flower, bamboo, and chrysanthemum, they represent Chinese people’s interpretation on traditional “culture of elegancy”, says Chinese photo-artist Yang Jianchuan. 

Melody of Kunqu Opera
29 May - 17 June

Visit the Auckland Festival of Photography website here for the full 2014 program.

May 23, 2014

Friday Round Up - 23 May, 2014

This week on Friday Round Up Max Dupain's Paris photos on show for first time, Alison Stieven-Taylor's Diary from the opening weekend of the Head On Photo Festival in Sydney, Australian Claire Martin part of the team to retrace the journey of iconic photographer Inge Morath along the Danube River and a sneak peak at the Auckland Festival of Photography opening next week.

Max Dupain - Paris

In a love affair that has lasted almost two centuries, Paris has stolen the hearts of countless photographers. Known as the City of Light, the French capital is arguably the most photographed city in the world, but despite its exposure Paris provides a unique canvas that even the most seasoned photographer finds hard to ignore.

It is here in 1978 that renowned Australian photographer Max Dupain, then 67, fell under Paris’ spell, the ancient echoes of the city beckoning him to discover its secrets hidden in the labyrinthine streets and the intrinsic detail of its superlative architecture and ornate decoration.

In Paris on assignment to photograph the new Australian embassy, designed by his longtime friend and celebrated architect Harry Seidler, Dupain spent his free time wandering with camera in hand. Inspired by documentary photographers such as Brassaï, Eugene Atgat and Henri Cartier-Bresson, he captured everyday moments, as well as the architectural majesty of the city, engaging with life on the streets with an obvious joie de vivre.

This was the first time Dupain had ventured so far afield. He was not a world traveller and before this three-week trip to Paris his only excursions outside of Australia had been with the RAAF service in World War II when he visited New Guinea and Admiralty Island. Dupain was one of those rare creative spirits who found endless inspiration in his own backyard; Sydney and its surrounds provided ample subject matter for Dupain who continued to take photographs until his death in 1992 at the age of 81. 

Dupain’s photographs from his Paris sojourn, for it felt more a holiday than work, show an almost ingenuous curiosity, carrying within them a lightness of step and the joy of discovery. There is a sense that in Paris Dupain photographed with renewed vigour as streams of light and swathes of shadow played with the city, painting its historical archways, sweeping stairways, gilded sculptures, and soaring columns in alluring hues. Such contrasts were irresistible for Dupain whose commitment to black and white photography was resolute as was his skill in using natural light to dramatic effect. It is no wonder the City of Light spoke to Dupain’s heart; he had been captivated by light since he’d first picked up a camera at the age of 13.

Random people also feature in these photographs educing an aesthetic that points to the joy found in an everyday moment - the photograph of the woman with the pram in Jardin des Tuilleries sitting on the bench reading; the solitary man walking down the long portico and; the couple entering Les Invalides under the gaze of the oversized statue of Napoleon. In the photograph of the tourists near the Eifel Tower Dupain has stepped into the scene almost as a participant rather than observer. In this photograph and others including that of the crowd moving through the hallway in the Louvre, there is a sense that Dupain is flirting with being a tourist and enjoying the experience. 

Throughout his lauded career Dupain experimented with various genres – portraiture, still life, nudes, landscapes, and architectural photography, the latter his focus for much of his commercial career. David Moore, another luminary of Australian photography who worked with Dupain, said despite the difficulty of trying to slot his friend into a particular genre, one could tell a Dupain image because of its strong visual signature - tight frames, clear lines and dramatic contrasts of light that create a minimalist aesthetic where nothing in the image is redundant. These Paris photographs undoubtedly carry that visual stamp, yet many also suggest poignancy within the austerity of the composition harking back to Dupain’s edict that photography was about “distilling visual and emotional experiences”.

“A photograph needs to mean something,” he commented in 1978. “Sensitivity, piercing awareness, emotional and intellectual involvement, self-discipline, are some of the elements which create that rapport with the subject be it a rock, or a woman, or a woman on a rock.”

Moore said that Dupain’s maturity as a photographer had “permitted him to photograph with more of the child’s joy of vision”. In this collection of 21 prints, which were given to Seidler as a personal gift, are the indelible markings that made Dupain one of Australia’s most intuitive photographers whose work remains pertinent even in today’s image-saturated world.

This is the first time these images have been on public display and now form part of the permanent collection of the Art Gallery of NSW. 

(C) All photos Max Dupain courtesy of Art Gallery of NSW

Max Dupain
Paris 'private' series and other pictures
24 May – 14 September
Art Gallery of NSW  

Head On Photo Festival
Alison Stieven-Taylor's Diary
Opening Weekend

Erika Diettes’ Sudarios exhibition at St. Canice Church
(C) Alison Stieven-Taylor shot on Olympus OM-D E-M1

From the rafters of a church in the backstreets of inner Sydney hang swathes of silk. They gently sway in the breeze as it floats through the lead light doors that sit ajar inviting passersby to enter this house of worship. Lit by the sun that streams through the stained glass windows, the fabric twinkles as if infused with shards of crystal.

These pieces of fabric are not flags or religious motifs. They are black and white photographs of women who have experienced unimaginable horrors, having been forced to watch their loved ones murdered by guerrillas and paramilitaries. This moving exhibition “Sudarios (Shrouds)” is by Colombian photographic artist, and social anthropologist, Erika Diettes and is one of the centrepieces of this year’s Head On Photo Festival in Sydney. 

Erika Diettes at St. Canice Church
(C) Alison Stieven-Taylor shot on OM-D E-M1

Around the corner from St. Canice’s church at the Stanley Street Gallery is an exhibition by Swedish photographer Johan Willner - “Boys Stories”. These photographs explore the concept of memory and how it changes over time. 

(C) Johan Willner

At Stills Gallery in Paddington American photographer Mary Ellen Mark’s iconic black and white photographs hang alongside of Australian photographer Lisa Garland’s portraits, both photographers bringing unique insights into those who live on the margins of society. 

 (C) Mary Ellen Mark

(C) Lisa Garland

In a large outdoor space known as the Paddington Reservoir American photojournalist Ben Lowy’s work is on show along with National Geographic’s Chris Rainier. Here also are the works of the finalists in the Head On Portrait Prize. 

(C) Alison Stieven-Taylor shot on OM-D E-M1

(C) Alison Stieven-Taylor shot on OM-D E-M1

At the Danks Street Gallery complex multiple spaces feature a diverse range of work from exhibitions shot on plastic cameras and mobile phones. There are also multimedia works. At the famous Bondi Beach Pavilion a group of artists show what can be done with mobile phone applications in another exhibition that plays with memory. 

The diversity of the photographic medium is what Head On Photo Festival is all about. It is a festival of photography in all its forms, designed to celebrate the egalitarian nature of photography, free of the pretensions of labels, a true feast for the eyes and soul.

Over the Festival’s opening weekend I saw an amazing variety of works from a diverse group of artists and you can read about a number of the shows I saw in today’s bulletin. The weekend began with the opening night festivities and the announcement of the Head On Award winners. More than 4000 photographers from around the world entered the competitions this year for the Landscape, Mobile and Multimedia awards, with only the Head On Portrait Prize confined to Australian entrants.

As one of the judges for the Head On Landscape Prize along with award-winning photographers Chris Rainier and Murray Fredericks, I had viewed hundreds of images in the preceding weeks. Not knowing who the photographers were, as is the premise with all the Head On Awards, I responded firstly to the emotional impact of each image. To see the landscape interpreted in so many styles and through so many eyes was a wonderful learning experience for me, and speaks to the heart of my interest in photography as a conduit for understanding. While there were many synergies each of the judges brought something new to the discussion. As a critical thinker, being a judge was one of the most enjoyable aspects of my involvement in this year’s Festival.

Festivals such as Head On also bring together the photographic community and over the three days I spent in Sydney I reconnected with many photographers I’ve met from around the globe as well as making new friends. I had the good fortune to engage in extended conversations with James Dooley the photojournalism council administrator for the Alexia Foundation in New York, to speak in depth with both international and local artists about their work and to spend time with the Head On team led by Festival Director Moshe Rosenzveig and General Manager Anita Schwartz.

On the Sunday I was part of a panel discussion on the topic “Do we still photograph with passion?” My fellow panel members were James Dooley, Erika Diettes, Johan Willner, Australian photographer Jonny Lewis, Chinese-Australian photographer Tami Xiang, consultant Sally Brownbill, American photojournalist Ben Lowy, Moshe Rosenzveig and Kristie Galea of Olympus, the Festival’s major sponsors this year. 

The Head On Panel (C) Alec Dawson

This interactive session drew on all of the panellists’ experience, ignited debate and infused everyone with energy and enthusiasm for the future. It was agreed at the end of the two-hour session that despite the shifts in the photographic landscape, and the continuing demise of the traditional publishing platforms, professionals still harbour enormous passion for the medium; embracing change is part of the practice of every artist.

Olympus kindly lent me an OM-D E-M1 for the weekend to trial. I’ve shot on Olympus cameras all my life, and still have my OM-1 film camera and its lenses that I used when I was studying photography. The E-M1 is fantastic, particularly shooting in low light. Fast, incredibly light, and unobtrusive, the E-M1 allowed me to capture the weekend’s festivities and immediately upload them so I could share them with my blog readers and colleagues. To say I like this camera is an understatement and its connectivity and ease of use has quickly made it an essential part of my kit. Its new home is my handbag so it can be with me everywhere, everyday.

Overall Head On Photo Festival was an immersive experience that has given me so much food for thought that I will not be ‘hungry’ for months to come.

Alison Stieven-Taylor

Head On runs until 8 June across multiple venues. 

Danube Revisited - The Inge Morath Truck Project

(C) Inge Morath

The nine recipients of the Inge Morath Award* will travel along the Danube River this July and August in a 7.5T truck which is being converted into a mobile photography gallery. The truck will house a selection of images from renowned Magnum photographer Inge Morath, photographs she made in communities along the Danube. The tour will travel through ten countries along the Danube River from the Black Forest to the Black Sea. A documentary film will also be made of this unique project.

(C) Inge Morath

(C) Inge Morath

Along the tour route the award-winning photographers - Olivia Arthur (UK), Emily Schiffer (USA), Lurdes R. Basoli (Spain), Claudia Guadarrama (Mexico), Ami Vitale (US), Jessica Dimmock (US), Mimi Chakarova (Bulgaria), Kathryn Cook (US) and Australian Claire Martin - will hold artist talks, photo forums and cultural exchanges with local institutions and organisations. Following the tour they will embark on the creation of new works to be exhibited in 2015.

Currently the Danube Revisited team is calling for submissions from women photographers working in the regions the Tour will encompass. Submissions close 20th June. They are also raising funds through Kickstarter. Click on the links to find out more and support this unique project if you are able. *The Inge Morath Award is given annually by Magnum Photos' members to a female photographer under 30 years.

Rob Gilhooly - Suicide Forest

One of the most profound exhibitions in this year’s Auckland Festival of Photography is British photographer Rob Gilhooly’s “Suicide Forest”. This is a beautifully composed photo essay of what may be one of the loneliest places on earth, for this forest is where an inordinate number of Japanese people have chosen to end their lives. In the densely populated bush amidst the solitude of nature, men and women who have lost hope make their final communion. This is one of the most powerful and moving exhibitions I’ve seen and points to an unspoken plague of modern life. The suicide rate in Japan is the highest in the world, more than double other developed nations including the US and UK. The numbers are incomprehensible; for 14 years to 2011 more than 30,000 people have taken their own lives every year in Japan. 

All images (C) Rob Gilhooly

Gilhooly says, “For over half a century, thousands of life-weary Japanese have made one-way trips to this sprawling, 30-sq.-km tract of woodland on the northwest flank of Mount Fuji, at 3,776-meters the nation’s highest peak. It’s a dark place of stark beauty, long associated with demons in Japanese mythology — and one that has earned itself the unfortunate appellation of ‘Suicide Forest.’ Evidence of such pilgrimages is strewn amid the dense undergrowth. Four pairs of moss-covered shoes are lined up on the gnarled roots of a tree — two adult-size pairs and two children’s pairs. Many, who take their lives here…first remove their shoes before making their last bed – a macabre take on a life-long custom that prevents the dirtiness of the outside world from spoiling the cleanliness inside the home”.

Suicide Forest
Rob Gilhooly
4-17 June
Hum Salon
123 Grafton Road
Part of 2014 Auckland Festival of Photography

May 17, 2014

Head On Photo Festival - And the Winners are...

Last night at the opening event for the fifth annual Head On Photo Festival Moshe Rosenzveig, Festival Director, announced the winners in the four prize categories for 2014 - Portrait, Landscape, Mobile and the newly introduced Multimedia. He told the capacity crowd at the Paddington Town Hall that the Head On Awards attracted more that 4000 entries this year from photographers around the world. Alison Stieven-Taylor was a judge for the Landscape Prize this year.

Head On Portrait Prize Winner - Tenth Anniversary
Joe Wigdahl: Family Loss

A portrait of Kirrilee Edwards before her death. Kirrilee suffered a catastrophic brain injury at 12 which required 24 hour care for several years. The image shows her being touched by her incredible parents and 6 brothers and sisters who have all taken part in caring for her.

Head On Landscape Prize Winner
Nick Hannes: Cairo, Egypt

Blank advertisement billboards along the highway in 6th of October City, a satellite city of Cairo, Egypt, 2012. From the series 'The Continuity of Man', a portrait of the Mediterranean region.

Head On Mobile Prize Winner
Clare Bardsley-Smith: Boy vs Wild
Taken during a large storm at Coogee Beach. The boys were fearless, braving the huge waves and diving off one of the large rocks into the surrounding rock pool. 

This year the Festival's major sponsor Olympus provided winners with an impressive range of prizes. Alison Stieven-Taylor has been trialling the O-MD E-M1 and it's fantastic. Light-weight, fast, quiet and incredibly functional, this camera is a winner.

Check out the what the winner of the Head On Portrait Prize receives this year as an example of the terrific prize package: First prize valued at over $10,000 and includes $5,000 cash and a great Olympus Camera Kit worth $4,396 (Olympus OM-D E-M1 body with 12-40mm f2.8 lens, 45mm f1.8 lens, 45mm f1.8 lens, 75mm f1.8 lens), 1 Year subscription to Adobe Creative Suite worth $600 and more!

You can see the finalists in each category at the exhibitions, details below:

Head On Portrait Prize – 40 Finalists
Until 8 June
Paddington Reservoir
251-255 Oxford Street

Second Prize Winner:
Richard Wainwright: Life and a suitcase

“We fled Syria across the border into Jordan and could only carry this suitcase with a few clothes and food for the baby. It was cold and dangerous, I cannot explain how awful it’s been for the children” Zeena, 26 and her family struggle to survive in Amman after fleeing Homs following the destruction of their house and bakery.

Third Prize Winner:
Heather Tichowitsch: Vicki 

Gone is my full ample cleavage pride and joy which I once felt defined my womanhood. I now realise I am every bit as much a woman post mastectomy. The new me may be an improvement, but I mourn what I lost, my past identity, what I was, whilst still rejoicing in what I am now.

Head On Landscape Prize – 40 Finalists
Until 8 June
NSW Parliament House, Fountain Court Gallery
6 Macquarie Street

Second Prize Winner:
Victor Stepanow: Burnet Forrest

Here, from above, we see a gaggle of crows above a burnt forest, they are as black as the scorched trees below, burnished feathers flickering in the sunlight, their darting movements contrasting with the dead stillness below. Vast landscapes of beautiful, crisp desolation, a view that both delights the eye, and scars the soul.

Third Prize Winner:
Adrian Rohnfelder: Tengger massif in Indonesia

Tengger massif in Indonesia in early morning light with active volcanoes Mount Bromo and Mount Semeru.

NSW Landscape Award Winner:
Peter Solness; Waterscape #2, Reservoir No.2, Centennial Park NSW 2013

I wanted to re-imagine the lost waterways, so I got my light-painting tools to work. In this image, water is being released from the top of the historic Centennial Park No. 2 Reservoir, which was built in 1925 and holds 90 megalitres of water. After 89 years of incarceration these waters now run free!

Head On Mobile Prize – Finalists
Until 7 June
Depot II Gallery
2 Danks Street

Second Prize Winner: 
Andrew Quilty: Burns Victim

In Boost Hospital (run by Medicines Sans Frontiers) in the provincial capital of Helmand Province, Afghanistan, a young girl lies in an observation room after being burnt in an accident with an oil lamp. Heat blankets are used to protect the body from cooling down to dangerously low temperatures as it attempts to deal with the burns.

Third Prize Winner:
Laki Sedaris: Somewhere near Codrington

Head On Multimedia Prize – Finalists
Until 7 June
Brenda May Gallery
2 Danks Street
(No images were available at time of publishing)