August 07, 2015

Friday Round Up - 7 August, 2015

This week on Friday Round Up - Robin Hammond's Where Love is Illegal, Instagram fake dupes world's media, and exhibitions in Melbourne, Sydney and Hobart.

Photo Essay:
Robin Hammond - Where Love is Illegal

Above: Simon, 22. He was arrested while having sex with his boyfriend in Uganda. They were beaten, dragged naked through the village, and thrown in jail with no medical treatment. They later escaped from a hospital when a doctor, who was Simon’s ex-boyfriend, took pity on them. Simon fled to the Ugandan capital of Kampala. He has not seen his boyfriend since. (C) Robin Hammond/PANOS for Witness Change

Robin Hammond is one of the most erudite, and hardest working, photojournalists I've ever had the pleasure to interview. He's also a really lovely person whose deep concern for others has led him on his life's pursuit to give voice to those who are marginalised and persecuted. Last time I spoke to Robin it was about his book Condemned: Mental Health in African Countries in Crisis, which won the FotoEvidence Book Award (2013).

His current series Where Love is Illegal is a Witness Change project that exposes the prejudices and horrific abuse that LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex) people suffer in countries such as Russia, Lebanon and Uganda. Robin travelled to seven countries in all to help these people tell their stories.

To borrow from Ernest Hemingway, Robin's work is brave and honest and true. When I read the story of the young man pictured above I felt compelled to share it. This is taken from a larger story which you can read in full on National Geographic's Proof including an interview with Robin and extended narratives on each of those pictured.

Robin says, "Bigotry thrives where those discriminated against are silenced. The objective is to have the people in this project seen and their voices heard, and to raise money for grassroots LGBT organizations working in countries where being LGBT is illegal or subject to massive discrimination. So we ask everyone to share these stories and to donate to these organizations however they can."

To be loved and to love are fundamental to our humanity. As the Dalai Lama says, we should cherish all sentient beings without qualification.

Lesbian couple “O,” 27 (right), and “D,” 23 (left). They were attacked on the way home from a concert after kissing at their subway stop. “The real fear I experienced was not for myself, it was for the one I love,” said O. St. Petersburg, Russia. November 2014. 

Jessie, 24, is a transgender Palestinian woman born in a refugee camp in Lebanon. She was born male, but knew she was female from a young age. Her uncle repeatedly raped her, and her father and brother have attacked and tried to kill her multiple times. Unable to complete her training as a nurse due to discrimination, she has resorted to doing sex work.

Malawi. In 2009 Tiwonge Chimbalanga and her husband Steven were arrested and charged with buggery and indecent practices between males. They were sentenced to 14 years in prison. The case caused an international outcry and both were later pardoned on the condition that they never see each other again. Fearing for her safety, Tiwonge fled to South Africa. All photographs by Robin Hammond/PANOS for Witness Change

Instagram Fake Migrant Story

Last week the Huffington Post led the media's race to publish the amazing story of the Senegalese migrant who was documenting his own journey on Instagram…only the story turned out to be a publicity stunt by a Spanish photography festival. You can read Oliver Laurent’s exposé of the fake story on Time Lightbox here.

This is not the first time that the international media has been duped by digital images, and it shows a complete lack of fact-checking. Editing and correcting after a story has gone to “print” is one of the aspects of digital journalism that corroborates the perception that journalism in the digital age has devolved. This story went viral, was shared amongst other digital media outlets and countless thousands of individuals who posted the story on their social networks. As a long-standing journalist it drives me crazy that the so-called gatekeepers keep turning their backs on the very principles that journalism was founded upon. Pathetic just doesn’t cut it. 

As for using fake photographs to tell a story that is highly political and the cause of debate in many countries is, in my opinion, insensitive and devalues the genuine work being done by photojournalists who often take extraordinary risks to bring the truth to light. This is especially concerning in a year when the credibility of photojournalism is under scrutiny once again after the fallout from the World Press Photo awards and the staggering number of entries that featured manipulated images.

Exhibitions: Melbourne

Robert Ashton - Thin Air

Melbourne photographer Robert Ashton explores the mountainous plateau of Ladakh situated India's far north in his new series of photographic work -Thin Air.

“At an altitude of 3500 metres above the sea on the borders of Pakistan, India, China and Tibet the air is thin and clear and the barren landscape is slowly absorbing the mementos of war,” says Ashton. "Since the petition of India it has become a very sensitive region politically for both India and Pakistan and the landscape bears the marks of war. I was drawn to the barren beauty and the exquisite light of the landscape and the way it absorbed the scattered mementos of war.”

(C) All images Robert Ashton

Until 29 August
CF (Colour Factory) Gallery
409-429 Gore Street

Future Reference - Group Show

Nova Paul This Is Not Dying 2010

single channel digital video transferred from 16mm film
20 mins 0 secs, dimensions variable courtesy the artist

Curated by Pippa Milne this group show draws on photography’s propensity to trigger, hold and play with memory and features works by Sophie Calle (FR), Rodney Glick and David Solomon (AUS), Siri Hayes (AUS), Nova Paul (NZ), Julian Aubrey Smith (AUS) and Justine Varga (AUS).

Until 6 September
Centre for Contemporary Photography
404 George Street


Julia Margaret Cameron - Victoria & Albert Museum

Julia Margaret Cameron Mrs Herbert Duckworth 1872. 
Victoria and Albert Museum, London ©  

This exhibition, drawn from the extensive collection of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum features over 100 photographs that trace Julia Margaret Cameron’s early ambition and mastery of the medium. A series of letters is also on display, along with select photographs sourced from Australian institutions.

Julia Margaret Cameron Whisper of the Muse 1865
Victoria and Albert Museum, London ©  

Victoria and Albert Museum, London ©  

Until 25 October
Art Gallery of NSW
Art Gallery Road
The Domain, Sydney

Sydney and Hobart:

Vedat Acikalin - Gallipoli Then & Now: Bonds Forged by War

Adil Sahin (l) and Len Hall (r) meet as friends in 1990 on the Gallipoli Peninsula, the 1915 battlefield they once fought on as enemies. Adil was 17yrs old when he enlisted and Len only 16. They are here together 75 years on.

In this exhibition that commemorates the Australian and Turkish soldiers who served and sacrificed their lives at Gallipoli in 1915, Turkish-Australian photojournalist Vedat Acikalin captures the bonds and friendships forged by those pitted against each other in battle so long ago. Many of these “enemies” went on to have lasting relationships, which have carried over to their families also.

(C) All photos Vedat Acikalin

Gallipoli Then & Now: Bonds Forged by War
Hobart - Allport Library & Museum of Fine Arts Until 22 August
Sydney - Customs House Library, Circular Quay Until 30 September 

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