May 16, 2014

Friday Round Up - 16 May, 2014


This week on Friday Round Up we take a look at some of the international photographers' exhibitions at this year’s Head On Photo Festival in Sydney, which opens today – Erika Diettes, Chris Rainier, Valentina Vannicola, Ilona Stanska, Sara Lewkowicz and the group show Genesis Project.

Panel Discussion:
Do we still photograph with passion?

Join James Dooley, Erika Diettes, Johan Willner, Jonny Lewis, Alison Stieven-Taylor and Sally Brownbill for this panel discussion on whether photography today is conducted with ‘passion’ or whether the focus is on gadgets and technical wizardry. Each panelist will present a selection of images they feel represents passion in photography. It should be a lively, interesting discussion. Open to all, but space is limited.

Sunday 18 May 3pm
Berkelouw Books, 19 Oxford St

Erika Diettes, Colombia – Sudarios (Shrouds) 

This moving exhibition by Colombian photographic artist, and social anthropologist, Erika Diettes features large-scale portraits printed in black and white on swathes of silk fabric. The portraits are of women who have witnessed unimaginable horror having been forced to watch their loved ones murdered by guerillas and paramilitaries.

Diettes tells me that she purposefully chose to present these portraits on fabric to create “shrouds” which in various religions are used to cover a person after death. The evocation of the shroud in this instance is to convey that while these women are still alive, the trauma they live with is like death.

“That’s the contradiction that I want to portray,” says Diettes. “In these portraits they are remembering the moment of the killings and that was the moment when their lives stopped being as they knew it and started being something else. I think being tortured by witnessing the killing of your son, I mean there is nothing beyond that, you wish you were dead, but you are not and that’s the conflict.”

All images (C) Erika Diettes

In these portraits the majority of women have their eyes closed as they recall the dreadful moments when their lives were irrevocably changed. But there is one striking image where the subject’s eyes are wide open. This image forms the centrepiece of the exhibition as Diettes explains.

“When I was working with this particular woman, when she was telling me her story, she didn’t close her eyes. While I was photographing her I noticed that she was literally staring at what she was telling me. So if you see it as I do, her eyes are open, but it is like she is looking at something beyond. She is like the anchor of the whole exhibition, she is always at the level of the spectator, she is confronting you, but she is beyond you, beyond the pain, and for me it is a very strong portrait”.

For Head On Sudarios is hung in the St. Canice Church in Elizabeth Bay, a brilliant venue for this hauntingly beautiful series of portraits.

Artist Talk: Sunday, 18 May 2014 - 12:00pm

Exhibition until 8 June
St Canice Church
28 Roslyn Street
2011 Elizabeth Bay

Chris Rainier – People on the Edge

For more than 30 years US photographer Chris Rainier has traversed the globe to capture some of the world’s oldest cultures before their traditions are lost forever in the advance of civilisation. Rainier who shoots predominantly for National Geographic is also part of the National Geographic program “ Last Mile Technology”. In this capacity he works with indigenous groups around the world teaching them how to use digital communications (cameras, computers and social media) to have a voice. These communities, such as the Sherpas who live on the high Tibetan plains, are marginalised by their lack of access to digital technology. Where invited the Last Mile Technology program aids in helping these communities draw attention to issues, such as the melting glaciers in Tibet. 

All images (C) Chris Rainier  

Until 8 June
Paddington Reservoir
251-255 Oxford Street

Valentina Vannicola – Dante’s Inferno

01 - Canto III, Ante-Inferno - The Gates of Hell Valentina Vannicola/OnOff Picture

Italian photo-artist Valentina Vannicola has attracted international attention for her surreal works of art that draw on literary themes, both classical and contemporary. In her series Dante’s Inferno Vannicola has once again enlisted the support of locals in her hometown of Tolfa, north of Rome, to act as characters as she recreates Dante’s journey into hell.

02 - Canto III, Ante-Inferno - Slothful Valentina Vannicola/OnOff Picture

04 - Canto IV, Circle I - Limbo Valentina Vannicola/OnOff Picture

Until 8 June
Istituto Italiano di Cultura
Level 4, 125 York Street

Mary Ellen Mark

US photographer Mary Ellen Mark has been shooting since the 1960s and her passion for documenting humanity in all its forms continues to drive her to create new bodies of work. In her first solo exhibition in Australia Mark presents some of her most iconic images, which she describes as “full of ironies, often humorous and sometimes sad, beautiful and ugly, loving and at times cruel, but always human”. 

All images (C) Mary Ellen Mark

Until 7 June
Stills Gallery
36 Gosbell Street

Ilona Stanska – A Nation Fading Away

Polish photographer Ilona Stanska has created a series of portraits of European Union labour emigrants. Of her artwork, which aims to capture the social, political and cultural issues of these people she says, “My vision is to do something new in a world of photography, that is why I turn my photographic paper the wrong way, print, and then paint my photographs. I call this process prating”.

All images (C) Ilona Stanska

Until 2 June
Wedge Gallery, Kinokuniya Books
Level 2, 500 George Street

Genesis Project – Group Show

(C) Fiona Wolf

“Genesis Project” is a group exhibition that is premised on showcasing “that Eureka moment for working photographers, the moment when they thought ‘I am going to be a photographer when I grow up’ or the photograph that changed their career,” says Festival Director Moshe Rosenzveig, who also has a photo in this show. “This is going to be a really exciting show that gets into the headspace of the photographer”.

19 photographers are featured in Genesis Project, Australians and International Guests including Ben Lowy, Roger Ballen, Murray Fredericks, Chris Rainier, Brian Cassey, David Dare Parker, Fiona Wolf, Jackie Ranken, Katrin Koenning, Martine Perret, Sam Harris, Glenn Campbell, Jon Lewis, Peter Eastway, Craig Golding, John Donegan, Peter Solness, Phil Hillyard, Moshe Rosenzveig. 

(C) Phil Hillyard
20 May to 8 June
M Contemporary
37 Ocean Street

Sara Lewkowicz – Shane and Maggie: 
An Intimate Look at Domestic Violence

(C) Sara Lewkowicz

US photographer Sara Lewkowicz shot to prominence in the world of photojournalism last year after Donna Ferrato, a photojournalist of international standing and a veteran in the industry, drew attention to Lewkowicz’s images of domestic violence. Ferrato said Lewkowicz’ photographs depicted in her essay “Shane and Maggie” were shocking in the way that good photojournalism should be.

I met Lewkowicz at Visa pour L’Image where she won the 2013 Rémi Ochlik Award and was also a newly appointed member of Getty Images Emerging Talent pool. Since then she’s gone on to win other awards. When we were chatting at Visa she was pragmatic about all the attention and the notion she was a newcomer. Lewkowicz has worked steadily at her craft for years and with good humour assured me she was not “an overnight success”.

Of her project “Shane and Maggie,” she says she was seeking “to portray domestic abuse as a process, as opposed to a single incident, examining how a pattern of abuse develops and eventually crests, as well as its short- and long-term effects on victims, their families, and their abusers”. These are powerful images that deserve our attention.

Until 26 May
Gaffa Creative Precinct
281 Clarence Street

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

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

Head On Multimedia Prize – Finalists
Until 7 June
Brenda May Gallery
2 Danks Street

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

For more information on the above shows and to view the Festival program visit the Head On Photo Festival site here.

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