July 08, 2016

Friday Round Up - 8th July, 2016

This week on Friday Round Up four diverse exhibitions - Mongolian Lens 1 (Melbourne), Mind the Gap Kristian Laemmle-Ruff, (Perth) The Agricultural Shows of Australia Louise Whelan (Sydney), and Post Script, Rachel Boillot (New York).

Exhibitions: Melbourne
Mongolian Lens 1 - Group Show

This exhibition, curated by RMIT lecturer Jerry Galea, presents works by a number of emerging Mongolian documentary photographers providing "a close-up and intimate view of the social change and tensions of this extraordinary nation, as its traditional ways of life become unsustainable”.

Mongolian Lens 1 forms part of Galea’s research, ‘Exploring Mongolian Society in Transition through Documentary Photography’ in which he examines the cultural significance of the photograph in Mongolian society. “My work focuses on a shift in photography practice where the Mongolian herders go from idle to active participants, so that taking photographs themselves gives them a new way to understand their world in pictures,” he explains. 

“I’m excited to showcase these new emerging documentary photographers. Mongolia is in the throes of change and this exhibition gives Mongolian photographers an opportunity to express their opinions to an international community.”

Around thirty selected images are on show at Melbourne’s Magnet Galleries until 23 July.

Magnet Galleries
Level 2
640 Bourke Street

Exhibitions: New York
Post Script - Rachel Boillot 

This is a really interesting series from American documentary photographer Rachel Boillot that captures the fallout from the closure of 3653 rural post offices run by the US Postal Service. 

Many of these post offices were located in the south and were the focal point for communities. Their closure has meant more than the loss of a Zip Code and regular postal deliveries. Another by-product of the ascendency of digital communication at the expense of human values. 

(C) All images Rachel Boillot

Opens 19 July
The Half King
505 West 23rd Street
New York NY 10011

Exhibitions: Perth
Mind the Gap - Kristian Laemmle-Ruff

"Mind the Gap is a somewhat dark and politically charged meditation on the gap between Australian cultures. It is not asking us to close the gap, to homogenise or assimilate; rather it asks us to acknowledge the gap, nurture the gap, celebrate the diversity rather than deny its existence. It encourages us to question and hold ourselves accountable for our actions as global citizens. The work aims to highlight colonial mannerisms and differences between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal ways of understanding and valuing land. Mind the Gap encourages us to imagine a future with deeper reconciliation and stronger acknowledgment of our true history rather than having our heads in the sand." Kristian Laemmle-Ruff

The Conversation & The Cycle
I first wrote about Kristian two years ago when his book In the Folds of Hills was released. It was an incredibly mature and insightful work for someone in their mid-twenties and I was curious to see how this talented Australian photographer would develop his eye and his work.

In 'Mind the Gap' my questions have largely been answered. This is an extraordinary body of work that is created with a deep understanding of the role of storytelling in photography. Yet it is far more than a collection of photographs drawn together through narrative. It is a highly intelligent coupling of creative thought and practical skills that allows the work to be presented in fresh and interesting ways that are instantly engaging and thought-provoking.

I love the way Kristian has incorporated layers into the work that advance the story and also allow the viewer to be part of the conversation. 'Mind the Gap' is intriguing as each of its components come together to create a powerful, complex narrative that when stripped bare, is essentially about our connection to the Earth, about our humanity. 

Pictured here are images from The Generation Series, Pine Gap, and an installation The Conversation & The Cycle (above).

In The Generation Series frames are filled with the red earth from Roxby Downs and Olympic Dam, (South Australia) - “the most horrible, traumatic places I have ever experienced” - and juxtaposed against a photograph of the luminous dusk sky of Lake Eyre. The earth and sky create an intriguing backdrop to the portraits Kristian took of those living in Fukushima city, following the tsunami and the subsequent radioactive contamination. 

Pine Gap: This panoramic shot captures Pine Gap, the second most important US base outside of the USA, locally known as a 'spy' base, from which the US monitors and controls military activities via satellites. This “terror facility” as Kristian labels it, is located in the centre of Australia and is shrouded in secrecy. Few photographs have been taken over its 50 year history.  

The Conversation & The Cycle is an installation. A multilayered photograph The Conversation combines three images - the Mound Springs in South Australia owned by BHP Billiton, the sacred scar tree near Dubbo (New South Wales) and a boardroom dressed with the colours of the empire. This symbolic image is displayed above a plinth on which two melted and burnt laptops (The Cycle) sit, evoking thoughts of destruction, decay and a return to the Earth. 

22 July - 21 August
Perth Centre for Photography
Opening night 21 July
18 Colin Street
West Perth

Exhibitions: Sydney
The Agricultural Shows of Australia - Louise Whelan

There's a lot to like about this series by Sydney photographer and oral historian Louise Whelan. The Agricultural Shows have played an integral part in rural communities, as well as the capital cities, for more than a century. Most of us have childhood memories of going to the 'Show', seeing farm animals, buying showbags, queuing up for rides that made you dizzy and sick, and enjoying the atmosphere of the carnival. 

In Australia there are around 600 Agricultural Show societies. Louise says these Shows "present an opportunity to reflect on the paddock to plate relationship, the value of our farmers and the value of the Australian food bowl. The images in this series explore many aspects of the ”Ag Show” including competition, food production and land management, community and social practices, genetics and modification, entertainment, competition, coming of age, nostalgia, time, intergenerational careers and employment, farming practice, architecture, the sideshow life and tradition".

For the first time since 1823, the Agriculture Show is under threat. This year The Castle Hill Show (NSW) announced its closure after 130 years of continuous operations due to lack of funds and redevelopment in the area. Let's hope this is an isolated incident. 

13 July - 14 August
Moran Prizes
Juniper Hall
250 Oxford Street

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