October 07, 2016

Friday Round Up - 7th October, 2016

This week on Photojournalism Now: Friday Round Up - exhibitions in Melbourne, Sydney and Taiwan. Plus the Australian Photobook Awards are open for entries and the Bronx Documentary Center auction is on with some amazing photographers donating images for a worthy cause.

Exhibitions: Melbourne
100 Years of Samba

In commemoration of 100 years of Samba, and as an attempt to move beyond sexist, stereotypical visions of carnaval, artist Anita Ekman presents this exhibition at Magnet Galleries Melbourne, which explores the role of women in Samba through photos, etchings on 35mm film, paintings, documentaries and live music created by the local Australian Brazilian community.

"Samba was born in Rio de Janeiro, in the house of a Black Brazilian woman: Tia Ciata. As well as being a cook, a healer and a Mãe de Santo (Mother-of-saint, a priestess in the Candomblé religion), she was the mother of Samba. She lived in ‘Pequena Africa’, a neighbourhood surrounding the docks of Rio, the largest slave port in the Americas. It was in this community, under Tia Ciata’s roof, that the first Samba song was recorded, ‘Pelo Telefono’. This was in 1916, only 28 years after slavery had been officially abolished in Brazil. 

One hundred years later, the carnaval has transformed from a symbol of Afro-Brazilian cultural resistance to a lucrative tourist spectacle presided over by Globo TV, Brazil’s monopoly media network, which uses the bodies of Brazilian women to promote its brand.

Although the carnaval and Samba are famous internationally, few people, Brazilians or outsiders, know about the true protagonists of this story. This exhibition presents the Brazilian women who over the last century continued on in the spirit of Tia Ciata, sewing costumes, preparing food, singing, dancing, writing books, making plays, films and documentaries, and raising new generations responsible not only for keeping Samba alive, but fighting against the sexist and oppressive marketing of their bodies on television screens.

Look beyond the tourist spectacle. Samba is a living culture of resistance, and women play a central role in this story." Anita Ekman, artist and exhibition curator.

9 - 22 October
Magnet Galleries 
Level 2
640 Bourke St

Exhibitions: Sydney
Robyn Stacey - Dark Wonder

(C) Robyn Stacey

Sydney-based photographic artist Robyn Stacey’s fascination with camera obscura or the ‘magic mirror of life’ as it is also known, has seen her expand on her first series to feature this technique, Guest Relations, to create this latest body of work, Dark Wonder, yet another name for camera obscura.

Dark Wonder explores artists’ spaces such as Brett Whiteley’s Lavender Bay residence and Hans Heysen’s studio at Cedars. In both these images the camera obscura seems to capture the essence of these artists’ distinctive styles; in the Whiteley image you can see the harbour bridge and the distortion of trees as the image spreads itself across fixed surfaces. With Heysen’s studio it is uncanny how the gum trees projected by the camera obscura evoke notes of the artist’s own paintings.

(C) Robyn Stacey - Whiteley's Library

(C) Robyn Stacey - Heysen's studio
“People are fascinated by artists spaces,” says Stacey. “They expect to feel the presence of the artists and immerse themselves in that aura. The space stands in for the artist and I became really interested in working with that as the subject matter. The artist space is different to the hotel environment. Often it’s a working, living and socialising space, so it is much more potent.”

In ‘Dark Wonder’ the allure for Stacey is the camera obscura’s relationship with the interior space, the design and the architecture of the room. “With this combination you get this transient in-between space that I find really interesting”.

(C) Robyn Stacey - Martin Sharp Eternity at Wirian 

The exhibition features large-scale prints as well as a room sized camera obscura, creating a world of illusion that visitors can immerse themselves in. “In this space you are in the world, but you’re cut off from it. You know what’s happening around you, but it’s all upside down and in reverse. It’s like being in your own private movie,” she says.

Until 5 November
Stills Gallery
36 Gosbell Street

Exhibitions: Taiwan
Intimate Transgressions

(C) Tami Xiang

Originally from China, photographic artist Tami Xiang now lives in Perth, Western Australia. Her series Nüwa Re-Awakening draws on the ancient legend of the Chinese Goddess Nüwa who was worshipped in a time when women were revered and powerful.

“Nüwa was the person who created humans and she was worshipped by all people and held a very high position in ancient Chinese culture. Women were treasured and treated well and were considered higher than men. But that changed and in Nüwa Re-Awakening I’ve imposed my feelings to show my rebellion against the oppression that became part of Chinese culture and that lasted for centuries,” she says.

This series was first exhibited at Head On Photo Festival in Sydney in 2014 where I met Tami. Since then she has been invited to showcase her series at other festivals and galleries in Asia. “Exhibiting at Head On gave me a great boost in confidence. I’m now working on new work and also organising exhibitions in my hometown of Chongqing”. 

So far this year she’s curated three exhibitions featuring artists from all over the world. “We’ve done shows with sixty or more artists, so they are quite big and there’s a lot to organise”. She now splits her time between Chongqing and Perth.

Currently a selection of images from Nüwa Re-Awakening is included in the Intimate Transgressions touring exhibition, which is a Center for Asian Pacific Affairs (CAPA) project curated by Fion Gunn from Ireland. The latest iteration of Intimate Transgressions opens in Taiwan next week under the guidance of local co-curator Leon Tsai.

(C) Tami Xiang

(C) Tami Xiang

(C) Tami Xiang

While the subject matter of Nüwa Re-Awakening may be perceived as feminist, Tami is quick to refute that notion. “It’s not about feminism, but more about something that existed in history. I wanted to preserve that for future generations. I don’t want people to forget about how women were treated”.

In Nüwa Re-Awakening Tami combines traditional Chinese masks with the naked female form to express her recognition of her culture’s art and her rebellion against male domination. She says the masks point to women being invisible in the culture and also in marriage; the mask in this instance is symbolic of arranged marriages where the woman doesn’t see or know the man she is to wed. Here the mask represents an uncertain future, as well as concealing the woman’s true nature.

“I also chose to incorporate nude as one of the principle elements, as it symbolises the vulnerability and helplessness of females living in a society where control is paramount. The nude is also a taboo subject in ancient conservative China and so it is also symbolic of my rebellion and rejection of the feudal system of control. It’s a story of one woman, but also reveals the fate of many millions of women without freedom and rights in the ancient days,” she concludes.

20 October - 1 November
Intimate Transgressions
Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall
Taipei, Taiwan

Bronx Documentary Center Fundraiser

Numerous internationally renowned and also emerging photographers have donated prints for the Bronx Documentary Center (BDC) auction. Funds raised enable the BDC to host important exhibitions featuring works from local and international photographers, as well as hold training and free after-school programs for local youth. It’s a great cause and you get an amazing photo in the bargain. Check out some of this year’s images:

(C) Lynsey Addario

(C) Guillermo Cervera

(C) Timothy Fadek 

(C) Michael Kamber

Auction closes 13 October, 9pm ET (USA)
Get on board here.

Australian Photobook Awards - Call for Entries

The Australian Photobook Of The Year Awards 2016 are now open for entry until 8 November. Submit your published or unpublished book created between 1 Jan 2015 - 30 Sep 2016 and you’ll be in the running for $10,000 in prizes. For full details and to enter visit the site here

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