May 29, 2015

Friday Round Up - 29 May, 2015

This week on Friday Round Up - Part Two of the 12th annual Auckland Festival of Photography coverage featuring four diverse exhibitions - The Imperial Body Fiona Amundsen, Oil & Water Murray Lloyd and Peter Evans, California & American Pride Sandra Chen Weinstein and Lisa Reihana's In Pursuit of Venus [infected] 2015. Plus an interview with Festival Director Julia Durkin.

Auckland Festival of Photography - Opening Weekend

Until 20 June

Reporting live from Auckland! Last night the 12th annual Auckland Festival of Photography opened with a fantastic event at Silo Park where this year's commissioned artist, PJ Paterson (below), revealed his new work created for the Festival under this year's theme Truth and Fiction. See last week's post for the interview with PJ.

PJ Paterson (C) Alison Stieven-Taylor

At the launch Auckland City Council confirmed funding for the next decade giving Festival Director Julia Durkin and her team much to smile about. In fact the community spirit and local pride in the Festival was truly wonderful to witness. This is first and foremost a festival that celebrates photography in New Zealand and gives local artists a platform on which to showcase their work. The Festival is also an important annual fixture in the region and part of the Asia Pacific Photo Forum. With exhibitions, projections, workshops, portfolio reviews and the Talking Cultures seminar program there's a wealth of activity to immerse yourself in.

Tomorrow (Saturday) there are talks and a panel discussion at the Auckland Art Gallery on photobooks. On Sunday I'm giving a talk on the Future of Photojournalism at 1pm so if you're in town head to the Gallery for these free sessions.

Today Julia played tour guide and escorted the Festival's international guests to no less than eight exhibitions. But we started the day at Mount Eden, a "dormant volcano" Julia assured us, that provided the most amazing 360 degree view of Auckland on a day that sparkled. Auckland Festival of Photography is on until 20 June. Check the website for the full program. 

L-R: Julia Durkin, Libby Jeffrey (Momento Pro - sponsor)  (C) Alison Stieven-Taylor

Tour party on top of Mt Eden: Jackie, Donatas, Doug, Julia, Mindaugas, Alison, Mikolaj, Libby 
Fiona Amundsen - The Imperial Body

Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine was established in 1869 in honour of those who died serving the Emperor. For decades soldiers departing for war have uttered the phrase ‘If I don’t come home, I’ll see you at Yasukuni,’ to families and loved ones, and Yasukuni is fixed in the annals of Japanese warfare.

In her series The Imperial Body, New Zealand photographer Fiona Amundsen draws on her academic background in social anthropology to explore “the contentious Yasukuni Shrine” with the aim “to provoke new experiences of historicised narratives that both pay homage to trauma, but resist holding histories as static or fixed”.

Amundsen says, “I am neither Japanese nor Anglo-American, but a New Zealander who brings a perspective to this material that has undoubtedly been shaped by my own experiences of learning about not only WWII, but also Japanese and American military histories. Accordingly, as a New Zealander, while interested in the discourses that surround WWII, I’m also looking for the counter histories that reside within such dominant rhetoric as it is ascribed to both the allied and axis powers. I’m interested in confronting what can be pre-given or non-negotiable fixed ‘images’ (visual and narrative based) of history, regardless of specific cultural origin. Ultimately, my practice aims to produce artworks that continually reflect on their position as being essentially a ‘cultural outsider’ who comes from, and is firmly rooted to the Asia Pacific region”.

2 June - 11 July
Gus Fisher Gallery
University of Auckland
74 Shortland Street

Murray Lloyd and Peter Evans - Oil & Water: Is clean water the new oil? 

(C) Murray Lloyd

(C) Peter Evans

The works of two New Zealand photographers – Wellington based Murray Lloyd and Auckland’s Peter Evans – combine in this exhibition to explore the notion that clean water may soon become a precious, and valuable, global commodity as pollution and climate change influence the availability of this essential resource. 

(C) Murray Lloyd

(C) Peter Evans

Until 24 June
Depot Artspace, Main Gallery
28 Clarence Street

Sandra Chen Weinstein – California & American Pride

In the late 1990s Sandra Chen Weinstein moved to Southern California after living in large metropolises in China, Japan and Taiwan. Weinstein says living in Orange County “I became acutely aware of the solitude and the very different and disconnected lifestyle experienced in a community separated by freeways. Californian State highways divide widespread suburban landscapes. Fences divide communities. In their isolation, neighbourhoods are often missed when passing through due to the overwhelming traffic”.

Using photography to understand this foreign landscape, Weinstein took many of the images that feature in her series California while travelling on the highways through neighbourhoods and country areas. “Like most of my photography, my works are un-staged and represent a moment in time; I like to allow the subject to lead us to itself,” she says. 

In this exhibition Weinstein features images from California and her other series American Pride which was shot primarily in San Francisco with the LGBT community in the Bay Area. “I have always been interested in culture and the human condition, including the complexity and controversiality of one’s identity and sexuality," she says. 

Until 16 June
Hum Salon
123 Grafton Road

Lisa Reihana – In Pursuit of Venus (infected)
Lisa Reihana, in Pursuit of Venus [infected] 2015, multi-channel video (still), 
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of the Patrons of Auckland Art Gallery 

A multi-disciplinary artist of Maori descent Lisa Reihana often enlists friends and family to create her elaborate, cinematic artworks that draw on the complexities of photographic and filmic languages. "If there is any Maori philosophy that I work with more than any other, it is that sense of community. I love people and the notion of community, friends and places to come together, so I utilise my work, digital and actual, to play around with that idea," she says.

Lisa Reihana, in Pursuit of Venus [infected] 2015, multi-channel video (still), 
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of the Patrons of Auckland Art Gallery 

Lisa Reihana, in Pursuit of Venus [infected] 2015, multi-channel video (still), 
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of the Patrons of Auckland Art Gallery 

In Pursuit of Venus (infected) is a multi-disciplinary project which “challenges the stereotypes developed through the gaze of imperialism and reappraises a widely distributed European representation of the Pacific from the early 19th Century in the form of Joseph Dufour's 1804 scenic wallpaper, Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique.” Here Reihana “refreshes, reactivates and reenergises these ideas from a Pacific perspective using digital technologies to create an immersive experience for audiences. This exhibition marks the world premiere of one of the most ambitious screen-based projects from Aotearoa New Zealand by one of the country’s most admired artists”.

Until 30 August
Auckland Art Gallery
Toi o Tamaki

Festival Director Julia Durkin with Alison Stieven-Taylor

Julia Durkin (C) Stefen Chow

In a year when the legitimacy of the photograph as proof is under question once again, the concept of truth and fiction in photography seems an appropriate theme to explore in the 12th annual Auckland Festival of Photography, which runs until the end of June.

Festival director Julia Durkin says the choice of this year’s theme – Truth and Fiction - progresses the conversation around digitally constructed imagery, and also allows for the incorporation of photojournalism, providing the Festival’s audience the opportunity to engage with the new as well as the familiar.

This year’s program combines the fictional and imaginary worlds of international artists like Julia Fullerton Batten (UK) Jae Hoon Lee (Korea) and Maria Kapajeva (Russia) alongside “hard hitting factual photojournalism” including exhibits from Angkor Photo Festival.

There is also solid representation from the local photographic community in New Zealand with individual and group shows including Lay of the Land, which features the works of 11 artists. And there’s the new series by this year’s commissioned artist, PJ Paterson, unveiled on opening night.

“Ninety percent of the work in the Festival is by local artists and we are very proud to support New Zealand photography and promote our cultural identity through photography,” says Durkin. “Within the theme there is a nice balance. I think it’s important for our audience to have exposure to international work they wouldn’t get to see as well as New Zealand work that is part of the cultural landscape, contemporary and also archival. It’s a very New Zealand bias program, and that’s what we’re here for.”

Durkin says the Festival’s program is the result of “discussion, research and referral”. The Auckland Festival of Photography is a member of the Asia Pacific Photo Forum and as such Durkin travels to other festivals throughout the region including Angkor in Cambodia, Pingyao in China, and Head On in Australia. “I get to see an awful lot of photography at these other Festivals. I also do portfolio reviews and that’s another great way to see work, get to know what you like and what might work for the festival. My colleague Elaine Smith is the curator of our annual commission so she’s focused on the local talent. It’s about knowing your craft, understanding what will work with the audience and then programming to fit our budget”.

The Auckland Festival of Photography attracts a diverse audience from professional photographers to enthusiasts, amateurs and those who are not involved in photography per se. This year the Festival has also targeted the student demographic with its Future Projections project that features work from all the educational institutes in Auckland. This runs alongside the professional exhibitions and the amateur shows.

“We are there mainly to generate interest in photography with the general public and that’s a very broad remit,” she says. The Festival attracts both the older and younger demographic with the latter group showing a ten percent increase in attendance last year. 80 percent of the Festival’s audience is local.

Auckland has one of the most diverse communities with more than 160 languages spoken in a city with a population of only 1.4 million. “Photography is a universal language and can engage people no matter their mother tongue,” says Durkin.

“The great thing about Festivals is they are conduits for community engagement for the delivery of cultural experience and the building of cultural currency. We are the only photography festival in New Zealand and we have managed to build and maintain it. I’d like to think there are twelve year olds in Auckland that have never known the city without a photography festival.”

This year the Auckland Council granted the Festival long term funding, a breakthrough Durkin puts down to the increased profile of photography in the Asia Pacific. “There is a change in the air now,” says Durkin who credits the collaboration between regional festivals through the Asia Pacific Photo Forum for shifting the focus away from European, American and Japanese photography and putting the spotlight on the Asia Pacific region.

“We’ve positioned ourselves fantastically to be able to capture this shift because we’ve actually led it with our partners in Australia. It’s nice that we are now in a position where the cultural funding agencies in New Zealand are taking note and are now supporting what we are doing because of that. It’s taken us having this network in place and being able to take New Zealand photography off shore for them to suddenly wake up and say hang on that’s amazing, we want to support it.”

The Auckland Festival of Photography runs 28th May to 20th June.

May 22, 2015

Friday Round Up - 22 May, 2015

This week on Friday Round Up Part One of the Auckland Festival of Photography coverage. Next week Alison Stieven-Taylor reports live from the Festival's opening. This week features four exhibitions from the Signature Series plus an interview with the 2015 Auckland Festival of Photography Commissioned Artist, PJ Paterson.

Truth and Fiction
Auckland Festival of Photography 

28 May to 20 June

The 12th edition of the Auckland Festival of Photography focuses on the theme – Truth and Fiction. In the Signature Series Exhibitions a number of local artists showcase their work along with selected international guests. Here’s a snapshot of what’s on offer- Part One.

PJ Paterson: 2015 Commissioned Artist

Read the interview with PJ Paterson about his new series (above) at the end of this week's post.


Maria Kapajeva – Interiors

This series by Russian artist Maria Kapajeva comprises digitally manipulated collage artworks that use found photographs. In Kapajeva’s artworks we see Russian women in their domestic environment adopting the poses that Western mass media use to exemplify female sexuality. This commentary on the clash of cultures and the labelling of women builds on Kapajeva’s body of work that focuses on women’s issues in contemporary society and the cultural and social stereotypes that are perpetuated by the mass media. 

Until 17 June
Silo Park
Wynyard Quarter

Jae Hoon Lee – Omnipresent 

A self-proclaimed cultural wanderer, New Zealand based Jae Hoon Lee, who is originally from Seoul, showcases his work Omnipresent in this year’s Signature Series. 

Omnipresent is an artistic departure for Lee and is the result of a six-month residency in 2014 at the International Studio and Curatorial Program in New York. By layering original photographs taken across multiple occasions and locales, Lee weaves fragmentary images into dense, digital compositions. Elusively hyper-real, Lee’s landscapes build a technologically amplified version of the world around him.

Lee calls his practice of stitching multiple photographs together to create a single work, ‘time-based’. His intention here is to envelop multiple moments within these mural-scale images creating an artwork that moves the viewer beyond reality and into the realm of the surreal. 

Until 20 June
Trish Clark Gallery
1 Bowen Avenue

Lay of the Land – Group Show

(C) Conor Findlay

Featuring 11 New Zealand photographers this group show explores the urban expansion and transformation of Auckland. Curator Anita Totha is a Hungarian-American photographer originally from New York. Currenlty based in Auckland she is a co-founder of Tangent, a contemporary photography collective.

Totha says this exhibition draws on the 1975 seminal exhibition “New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape” which featured photographers such as Stephen Shore, Lewis Baltz and Robert Adams and documented the urban sprawl of America.

In Lay of the Land Auckland’s growing metropolis comes under the spotlight to explore what Totha says are “overlooked areas of change thought to be mundane and normal; the land our homes are built on, our daily commute on the thoroughfares in and out of the city, the reserves and natural areas on our doorstep”. What Baltz labelled “the places where the future hangs in question”. 

(C) Allan McDonald

(C) Allan McDonald

(C) Anton Maurer

(C) Anton Maurer

(C) Conor Findlay

(C) David Cowlard

(C) David Cowlard

(C) Derek Henderson

(C) Dieneke Jansen

(C) Dieneke Jansen

(C) Peter Evans

(C) Sean Atavenitia

(C) Sean Atavenitia

(C) Solomon Mortimer

(C) Solomon Mortimer

“The city’s landscape as we know it today is changing. The photography and moving image included in this exhibition takes a deeper look at the ever-changing state of our urban environment, the conversion of communities, the vanishing natural and topographic landscape and the imminent changes that lie ahead,” says Totha.

Sean Atavenitia | David Cowlard | Peter Evans | Conor Findlay | John Haydn | Derek Henderson | Dieneke Jansen | Anton Maurer | Allan McDonald | Solomon Mortimer | Talia Smith |

Until 13 June
Papakura Art Gallery
10 Averill Street

Anne Noble – No Vertical Song

Anne Noble’s exhibition No Vertical Song comprises 15 portraits of dead bees. But this exhibition is more than a microscopic view of the Apis in rigor; it is a commentary on our relationship with the natural world and explores the notion of a time when the bee may be extinct. Noble is one of New Zealand’s most celebrated photographers. This year Noble was given the Overseas Photographer Award in the 31st Higashikawa Awards in Japan.

Until 4 July
Two Rooms
16 Putiki Street
Newton, Auckland

PJ Paterson - 2015 Commissioned Artist 
talks to Alison Stieven-Taylor

From the new series commissioned by the Auckland Festival of Photography - 
the remaining images will be revealed at the Festival's opening on Thursday 28th May. 

New Zealand artist PJ Paterson’s images comprise multiple layers where sweeping landscapes are juxtaposed with the trappings of a consumerist society to create surreal environments. His melding of fact and fantasy taps in beautifully to this year’s Auckland Festival of Photography theme – Truth and Fiction - so it is no surprise that when the Festival was searching for the 2015 commissioned artist, Paterson’s work fell under the judges’ gaze.

“This is my first public commission, it’s awesome, “ says Paterson. “Working with the Festival’s theme of Truth and Fiction meant the brief was very broad and wasn’t beyond my normal scope…my work is highly manipulated, it’s not a real representation of what I see, but rather what I feel.”

To demonstrate, Paterson refers to the image where thousands of bicycles reach to a brooding horizon. “When I was in Amsterdam there were bicycles everywhere. It’s overwhelming how many bikes are on the streets, but taking a single image doesn’t convey that sense, that feeling. In this image I am recreating the impression that all these bikes had on me, that idea that there are thousands and they go on forever to fill the landscape”.

This train of thought is also evident in Paterson’s other images where junkyard cars and engines flood picturesque valleys creating a metaphor for the waste generated in our cities. He says that initially it wasn’t his intention to make comment on the consumerist nature of society, and its environmental impact, but that is what many people believe is his aim.

“I’m not really trying to convey a message or a belief of mine, but it is amazing just how much stuff we make and buy and throwaway. There’s a kind of beauty to it, like there is with images of derelict buildings. There’s something cool about it, they look amazing even though it’s someone’s hurt. There’s kind of a voyeurism to it rather than being right in it.”

Paterson tells that he came to photography through painting after a life changing experience led him to follow his artistic heart. This former electrician is now carving a name in the art world and making a living from his passion with his unique canvases and limited photographic series. Sold exclusively through Sanderson Contemporary Art gallery in Auckland, Paterson’s photographs are available in editions of only three increasing the cachet for collectors. 

Initially Paterson used photography as part of his painting practice, photographing subjects that he would then interpret on canvas. Now he works across both mediums dedicating himself to one stream at a time depending on inspiration. Recently he’s been selling as many photographs as paintings, which he says is a shift. “I think there’s been a bit of a stigma around photography as art because so many people think they can take a great photo, but attitudes are starting to change”.

To fulfill the Festival commission Paterson has created five new works that deal with urban-scapes and feature images he shot in Shanghai earlier this year. This new series builds on his existing work where Paterson inserts unlikely objects or buildings into existing streetscapes to create newly imagined cities. The commissioned work will be on show at Silo 6 in Wynyard Quarter until 17 June.

To see more of his work visit PJ Paterson

For more information visit Auckland Festival of Photography