May 02, 2014

Friday Round Up - 2nd May, 2014

This week on Friday Round Up the focus is primarily on the environment with a look at Sean Gallagher's evocative work on the toxic impact of India's leather industry, Daniel Beltrá's book SPILL and a new exhibition in Melbourne inspired by Deep Ecology. Plus there's a blast from the past with an exhibition featuring images from the US Farm Security Administration in the 1930s.

Daniel Beltrá – SPILL

‘The oil-stained, blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico swirl in my mind’s eye like a grotesque painting,’ Daniel Beltrá.

In light of the urgent, and vital, protests around the insanity of the drilling in the Arctic that is happening right now, this is an ideal moment to talk about Daneil Beltrá’s book SPILL. This book documents the disastrous Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. More than 210 million gallons of crude oil were released into the ocean in that spill devastating an area of more than 68,000 square miles and causing one of the most catastrophic environmental disasters of all time. The potential for an even greater disaster in the fragile ecology of the Arctic is not a fiction invented by the "greenies," but an absolute reality and Beltrá’s images remind us of how devastating such an accident can be.

Beltrá’s aerial photographs may appear as abstract art, and are truly visually stunning, but the truth behind these images which capture the monumental scale of this disaster should not be forgotten.

From Spill by Daniel Beltrá © Daniel Beltrá courtesy GOST Books

From Spill by Daniel Beltrá © Daniel Beltrá courtesy GOST Books

From Spill by Daniel Beltrá © Daniel Beltrá courtesy GOST Books

About Daniel Beltrá
Born in Madrid, Spain Beltrá began his photographic career with the Spanish National Agency, EFE before working with the French agency Gamma. In 1990 he began his collaboration with Greenpeace and work has taken him to all seven continents. He was awarded Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award 2011, the Lucie Award for International Photographer of the Year and a finalist for Critical Mass for Photolucida for his work documenting the Gulf Oil spill. His work has been published in The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, Le Monde, and El Pais, amongst others. Daniel Beltrá is a fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers and was nominated for the Prix Pictet 2012.

SPILL Daniel Beltrá
Published by: Gost Books
For more information visit the website here

Save the Arctic - click here to add your name to the petition signed by more than 5 million people around the world who want to stop the drilling in the Arctic

Photo Essay:
Sean Gallagher – The Toxic Price of Leather

Saida a tannery worker suffering from a serious skin condition believed to be from the toxic conditions in which she works (C) Sean Gallagher

Sean Gallagher’s photo essay, and short film “The Toxic Price of Leather” is a powerful study of the shocking impact of India’s leather industry on both human beings and the environment.

In my opinion Gallagher is one of the most insightful documentary photographers working today and his images continually bring to light issues that should concern all who are interested in caring for others and for the planet. In this series Gallagher documents the lives of those working and living in Kanpur, India. With around 300 tanneries in operation Kanpur is now the largest exporter of leather in India. Ninety percent of its products are produced for Europe and the United States. 

Above: Pollution from the tanneries

The environmental impact of the tanneries on the local area, and the Ganges River, is significant as is the toll on the health of both tannery workers and local residents. Once again the West is procuring goods at ridiculously low prices ignoring the fact that their practices are in fact exacting the highest price of all. 

Pollution from the tanneries floats on the Ganges

A child worker with piles of leather

Skin conditions afflict many who work in and live near the tanneries

A tannery worker amidst the waste. OH&S doesn't exist here.

A farmer works in his field where tannery waste is polluting the ground and water
(C) All images Sean Gallagher

Visit Sean Gallagher’s website for more information
View the short film The Toxic Price of Leather here
View Gallagher’s Toxic Business at Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting 

Exhibition: Melbourne
Kate Robertson – Celestial Body Model

Norwegian mountaineer, and philosopher, Arne Naess is credited with introducing the phrase "deep ecology" into the environmental conversation in the early seventies. In its basic definition deep ecology recognises "the inherent value of all living beings" and celebrates the richness and diversity of life on earth in all its forms.

As concern around the environment has moved further into the general populace deep ecology has shifted from being a phrase in the environmental movement's vernacular to a movement of its own. The deep ecology platform "involves deep questioning, right down to fundamental root causes...and involves redesigning our whole systems based on values and methods that truly preserve the ecological and cultural diversity of natural systems," as explained by Alan Drengson, emeritus professor at the University of Victoria in British Columbia Canada.

Australian photographic artist Kate Robertson has used the concept of deep ecology in her latest series of work – Celestial Body Model – that opens at Melbourne’s Edmund Pearce gallery next week. Robertson says the inspiration for this particular series of photographs comes from a deep ecology workshop where participants experienced the vastness of space by walking through a scale model of the solar system. In these photographs Robertson reflects themes of connectedness, observation and mindfulness in both the physical approach to the work and the ethereal nature of the imagery. 

(C) All images Kate Robertson

7-31 May
Edmund Pearce Gallery
Level 2 Nicholas Building
37 Swanston Street

Exhibition: Melbourne
Pure Record – Photos from the Farm Security Administration 1930s

(C) Walker Evans

Those who are familiar with the history of documentary photography will know of the US Farm Security Administration (FSA) through the work of Dorothea Lange and her iconic 'Migrant Mother' photograph taken in 1936. But Lange was only one of a number of photographers commissioned by the FSA during the Depression to document the living and working conditions of farm workers in order to drive reforms in the American agricultural industry.

(C) Dorothea Lange

(C) Dorothea Lange

(C) Walker Evans

(C) Walker Evans

(C) Walker Evans

(C) Walker Evans

The exhibition "Pure Record" features photographs by Lange as well as other FSA photographers including the late Walker Evans (1903-1975) . Like Lange, Evans was committed to documenting the harsh conditions in which the migrant workers were forced to live, but was less driven by politics – Lange is on record saying her disgust at the wealthy farm barons and their disdain for their workers drove her to take the FSA job. Evans claimed he was “committed to the principle of pure record not propaganda” shooting what he saw with “no politics whatsoever”.

Whatever the personal motivations of the FSA photographers "Pure Record" gives an insight into the harsh realities of life in the Depression in the US for those living on the land and provides a unique opportunity for those in Melbourne to view these rarely exhibited photographs.

4-24 May
Opening: Sunday 4 May 4pm
Guest Speaker: Tim Lee ABC Landline
Photonet Gallery
15a Railway Place
Fairfield (Melbourne)

1 comment:

  1. The top image in the FSA exhibition is by Arthur Rothstein, not Walker Evans.