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REMIX: Art Gallery of Western Australia April 28, 2011

Posted by bohdan.warchomij in : Art Gallery of Western Australia, exhibition, Fine Art , add a comment

remix is an exciting exhibition that showcases the creativity of twenty contemporary Western Australian artists of diverse backgrounds, age and experience. The exhibition includes a broad mix of media with painting, sculpture, design, photography, textile and filmic work, most of it new or recently created and representing some of the most compelling examples of contemporary practice by Western Australian artists.

What was exciting for me in my visit to the Art Gallery was to see the work of  photographers that I have written about in Metaphor Online getting recognition and plaudits for their unique work.  Justin Spiers, Claire Martin, Yuha Tolonen, Graham Miller and Jacqueline Ball have substantial bodies of work in the Gallery.

Stars and Stripes Truck, Santa Fe, New Mexico: Photo Graham Miller
Stars and Stripes Truck, Santa Fe, New Mexico: Photo Graham Miller

Like the mixtape exhibitions in 2003 and 2006, remix brings together a diverse group of works that offer an opportunity to experience what some of Western Australia’s artists are doing in their practice. The works selected are not limited by a single theme but instead are orchestrated around approaches to making art, materiality or the experience of place.

The selected artists are; Daniel Argyle, Lydia Balbal, Jacqueline Ball, Helena Bogucki, Helen Britton, Paul Caporn, Jane Donlin, Tarryn Gill /Pilar Mata Dupont, Adam Goodrum, Jon Goulder, Thomas Jeppe, Laura Johnson, Siné MacPherson, Carlier Makigawa, Claire Martin, Graham Miller, Clare Peake, Justin Spiers, Juha Tolonen and Brendan Van Hek.

Permanent Error Pieter Hugo April 17, 2011

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Pieter  Hugo has been photographing the people and landscape of an expansive dump of obsolete technology in Ghana. The area, on the outskirts of a slum known as Agbogbloshie, is referred to by local inhabitants as Sodom and Gomorrah, a vivid acknowledgment of the profound inhumanity of the place. When Hugo asked the inhabitants what they called the pit where the burning takes place, they repeatedly responded: ‘For this place, we have no name’.

Their response is a reminder of the alien circumstances that are imposed on marginal communities of the world by the West’s obsession with consumption and obsolesce. This wasteland, where people and cattle live on mountains of motherboards, monitors and discarded hard drives, is far removed from the benefits accorded by the unrelenting advances of technology.

The UN Environment Program has stated that Western countries produce around 50 million tons of digital waste every year. In Europe, only 25 percent of this type of waste is collected and effectively recycled. Much of the rest is piled in containers and shipped to developing countries, supposedly to reduce the digital divide, to create jobs and help people. In reality, the inhabitants of dumps like Agbogbloshie survive largely by burning the electronic devices to extract copper and other metals out of the plastic used in their manufacture. The electronic waste contaminates rivers and lagoons with consequences that are easily imaginable. In 2008 Green Peace took samples of the burnt soil in Agbogbloshie and found high concentrations of lead, mercury, thallium, hydrogen cyanide and PVC.

Hugo collapses our notions of time and progress in his photographs. There are elements in the images that fast-forward us to an apocalyptic end of the world as we know it, yet the alchemy on this site and the strolling cows recall a pastoral existence that rewinds our minds to a medieval setting. The cycles of history and the lifespan of our technology are both clearly apparent in this cemetery of artifacts from the industrialised world. We are also reminded of the fragility of the information and stories that were stored in the computers which are now just black smoke and melted plastic.

In this exhibition Hugo also raises debates about the representation contained within the photographic frame. The context of these images and the fluidity of reality, in relation to the static image, will be seen in a multi-screen installation of footage filmed in Agbogbloshie. These cinematic elements, presented on old televisions, bring to our attention the circumstances occurring outside the constructed frame of the photograph.

The Permanent Error series will be published by Prestel in March 2011.



Homo Plasticus: Philip Toledano Photos March 3, 2011

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Dina Photo Philip Toledano
Dina Photo Philip Toledano

The inventive and creative Philip Toledano came to my attention when he photographed his father in a lyrical yet heartbreakingly honest photographic style in the series Days with My Father . He  is also capable of creating staged and fantastical imagery, as with his Hope&Fear series. In many cases, he combines the two sensibilities. In A New Kind of Beauty, Toledano documents plastic surgery patients, drawing out both their ethereal qualities as well as their tragic humanity.

On his website he writes:

“I’m interested in what we define as beauty, when we choose to create it ourselves.

Beauty has always been a currency, and now that we finally have the technological means to mint our own, what choices do we make?

Is beauty informed by contemporary culture? By history? Or is it defined by the surgeon’s hand? Can we identify physical trends that vary from decade to decade, or is beauty timeless?

When we re-make ourselves, are we revealing our true character, or are we stripping away our very identity?

Perhaps we are creating a new kind of beauty. An amalgam of surgery, art, and popular culture? And if so, are the results the vanguard of human induced evolution?”

Toledano’s latest ofering now at Brooklyn’s Klompching Gallery is the A New Kind of Beauty. It will attract large audiences.
Toledano  stages his subjects coolly in  a classical large-format studio-style.

Angel by Philip Toledano
Angel by Philip Toledano

Samantha Everton February 5, 2011

Posted by bohdan.warchomij in : Art, Australian photographers, Fine Art , 2comments

Grace photo Samantha Everton
Grace photo Samantha Everton

“Beneath the floor of the comparatively neat little dwelling that we call our consciousness are unsuspected Aladdin caves. Down there, not only jewels but also dangerous jinn abide – the inconvenient or resisted psychological powers that we have not thought or dared to integrate into our lives.” *

Samantha Everton has obviously arrived as a  fine art photographer having been selected as the sole judge of the 2011 Moran Photographic Prize.

In November 2010 Anthea Polson Art  presented for the first time in Queensland, a selection of magnificent, limited edition photographic artworks by multi-award winning Samantha Everton. It was a rare opportunity to view the Melbourne-based artist’s critically acclaimed Vintage Dolls and Childhood Fears series. The exhibition was a prelude to her forthcoming new body of work that will have its national premier with Anthea Polson Art in March 2011. Collected Works also celebrates Everton’s extraordinary achievements at the Prix de la Photographie Paris (Px3) this year. An international panel of judges selected the 2010 Px3 winners from thousands of entries from over 85 countries. Samantha Everton was awarded: First Prize in the Portraiture – Children category for her entry entitled Grace (Vintage Dolls Series), Third Prize in the Fine Art – People category for Siam (Vintage Dolls Series) and also received an Honourable Mention for Bewitching Hour (Vintage Dolls Series).

Everton’s rise to international recognition is the result of the unerring integrity of her photographic processes and an innate ability to access the subliminal in sumptuous visual narratives of cross-cultural, sociological and psychological relevance. Through fantastic and disturbingly lush imagery, we are lured into the realms of make-believe that Everton calls “magic realism”. “I love surrealism,” she explains, “Dali, Escher – pictures where there’s something extra if you look a little closer.”

Eighteen months in the making, the 2009 Vintage Dolls series is set in a shadowy world betwixt dreams and waking. It features a cast of five elaborately attired girls entertaining themselves in an abandoned house. Everton went to quite extraordinary lengths in sourcing exactly the right children, props, costumes and house for the images. Eventually she found a building ready for demolition, surprisingly, at the end of her suburban street and was able to set about meticulously creating the sets for her shoot. Wallpaper and paint were strategically applied, holes knocked into walls to let light in and the floorboards cut so as to submerge the tree that appears in the work, Nocturne. “The house had a ghostly feeling and remnants of a past life; it juxtaposed against the playfulness of the children”, comments Everton. “It’s like the children are in an attic and they’re play-acting but on a deeper level, I wanted to show how children interact with culture and how they absorb and re-enact what they see. I wanted there to be a child with whom each person could identify.”

More sober and silent, the earlier 2007 Childhood Fears series explores the darker realms of adolescence. “This series is about being at an age when you are very much aware of your environment and how different you are from other people,” says Everton. “It’s about wanting to fit in. Childhood fears are universal; the fear of abandonment and the fear of not belonging are common to us all. These images are my interpretations of those places where innermost thoughts and emotions are played out.” There, fantasy and reality entwine in dark deserted streets and ‘retro’ interiors suffused in a greenish, aqueous light connotative of a subconscious realm. The odd stillness of the scenes heightens the suspense of possible outcomes. Paradoxically, there is no sign of fear or vulnerability in the children. They appear ambivalent – complicit even – in the strange happenings.

Everton works primarily as a director on her photo shoots, creating theatrical productions in front of the camera and then photographing them. But nothing happens by chance here. It is of crucial importance that she controls every aspect in the materialization of her initial concept – all the way through to the printing of the photographic image with pigment-based inks onto archival-quality rag paper and the final framing. True to the realism of her work, Everton captures the images on traditional film using a medium format camera, “It is very important to me that the viewer believes in the image, therefore everything you see, from the girl flying through the air to the tree sprouting through the floor, was actually there and shot in camera. Everton is reluctant to explain the narrative content and underlying symbolism in the works, preferring that the viewer respond from a personal perspective. “My images are a snapshot, mid-moment, they don’t begin or end,” she says. “It leaves you to your own imagination, to draw your own conclusions.”

* Joseph Campbell: The Hero With a Thousand Faces, Princeton University Press


Samantha Everton Biography

Samantha Everton credits her unusual childhood as instrumental in fostering a creative mind. Growing up with a biological brother and three adopted Asian siblings, she spent hours fossicking for gemstones under the wide blue skies of remote mining towns in Central Queensland. Hers was a colour-saturated world, “Our house was in the middle of nowhere. Everywhere wheat was growing – taller than us and we’d run and play in fashioned mazes.” Although the multicultural theme underpinning much of her imagery isn’t directly referencing her own family experience, Everton admits it is an influence.

When the opportunity arose Everton travelled to South East Asia – the land of her siblings – on the first stage of a four year journey around the world during which time she supported herself as a barber and a nanny. It was not until Everton arrived back in Australia that she realised photography was the way in which she could incorporate her various talents. After volunteering in photographic studios and newspapers, she found work as a cadet photographer with  The Melbourne Times. Accepted into the RMIT Photographic Design Degree, Everton graduated in 2003 at the top of her class receiving the Steve Vizard Most Creative Folio Award. She was also awarded Highest Aggregate Score Winner from amongst all Victorian photography students.

Since her graduation, she has won a host of awards including: 2010 Prix de la Photographie Paris (Px3) First Prize in the Portraiture – Children, Third Prize in the Fine Art – People, and Honourable Mention; 2009 Prix de la Photographie Paris (Px3) – Honourable Mention; 2009 MORAN Contemporary Photographic Prize – Highly Commended Award; 2009 Selected for the core program of the Ballarat International Foto Biennale; 2008 MORAN Contemporary Photographic Prize – Finalist; 2008 Corangamarah Art Prize – People’s Choice Award; 2007 Prix de la Photographie Paris (Px3) Peoples’ Choice – 1st place; 2006 Twenty-Third McGregor Prize for Photography Award – Winner; 2006 Twenty-Third McGregor Prize for Photography Award – Highly Commended; 2005 Leica Documentary Photographer of the Year Award - Winner; 2005 Head On Photographic Portrait Prize, Michael Nagy Gallery – Second Place; 2005 33rd Alice Prize – Acquisition of work for Alice Springs Art Gallery Permanent Collection; 2004 Victoria Fulbright Visual and Performing Arts Award – Australian National Finalist; 2003 AIPP Australian Professional Photography Awards – 1 gold and 2 silver medals.

Samantha Everton has created five bodies of photographic art, namely: the Utopia series, 2009; the Vintage Dolls series, 2009; the Childhood Fears series, 2007; the Catharsis series, 2005 and the Inaugural Collected Works series, 2003. A new series will be launched at Anthea Polson Art, Main Beach Queensland in March, 2011. Everton’s work has been published and reviewed in numerous books and specialist art magazines around the world, including The New Yorker, Photofile, Harper’s Bazaar and Blanket magazine. Her various photographic series have attracted critical acclaim with reviews in the Australian Art Market Report and Australian Art Review. Everton is represented in a number of important private and public collections, including the University of Western Sydney, the University of Southern Queensland, the Rockhampton Art Gallery, the Alice Springs Art Gallery, and Customs House Gallery in Warnambool.


Sentience: An Exhibition of Life at Kurb Gallery in Perth January 18, 2011

Posted by bohdan.warchomij in : Art, Documentary, Fine Art, Jo-Anne McArthur , add a comment

Sentience 4

Sentience 1Sentience5 copySentience 3

BMW Paris Photo Prize December 11, 2010

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Under the theme “Electric Vision”, the 7th edition of the BMW-Paris Photo Prize worth €12,000, has been awarded to contemporary Hungarian artist Gábor Ősz. Entitled “Permanent Daylight,” the winning work is part of a series he made in a caravan which he turned into a camera obscura and parked next to a cluster of agricultural greenhouses. The image was made over four successive nights during which the light emanating from these strange, almost unearthly structures slowly reacted with the photosensitive material.Said Michel Frizot, photography historian and member of the 2010 jury: “The originality of Gábor Ősz’s practice is unlike certain standards of today, owing to the fact that he works slowly and without pomposity. His image seems to be totally in tune with the theme “Electric vision.”

Photo Artist Gábor Ősz
Photo Artist Gábor Ősz

Meditations November 6, 2010

Posted by bohdan.warchomij in : Education, Fine Art , add a comment

I have just come across the work of Aline Smithson and her thoughts on photography and had to share them. She is a photographer and educator who writes about photography thoughtfully and intelligently. There is a series on her website taken with a Diana camera twhere she deconstructs her images, cuts negatives, overlaps them, adds text,  adds oil washes and ignores the idea of the perfect print. In the process she connects us with the quandary between analogue and digital, between the historic and the contemporary and makes sense of it in a remarkably logical way.

“Shadows and Stains, Notes From A Darkroom

I’ve been thinking about photography non- stop this past year- its pursuit, the business of it, the idea of selling an image, the artist’s viewpoint, the MFA school of imagery, the death of the wet darkroom, iconic photography, toy cameras and digital cameras, editions and print sizes, old rules, new challenges- all the currents we photographers have to navigate in today’s photographic waters. As a darkroom printer I have found the meditative and creative state that I experience so important to my work- it’s where I make my mark, it’s where much of the thinking about the image takes place. Losing that experience as part of the process is not an option I want to face.”



Shadow Catchers October 30, 2010

Posted by bohdan.warchomij in : exhibition, Fine Art, V&A , add a comment

Friday night at the V&A in South Kensington is a wonderful experience. Full of the culturally inclined, with a DJ playing ambient music, cocktail parties, workshops in sculpture, the cyanotype, the principle of the zoetrope, a wonderful shopping experience and people from the breadth of the EU it is just plain fun. The highlight for many is Shadow Catchers, a look at five artists working in astonishing ways  with light and chemistry and analogue technologies to create works of art that are complex and remarkably beautiful.

The essence of photography lies in its seemingly magical ability to fix shadows on light-sensitive surfaces. Normally, this requires a camera. Shadow Catchers, however, presents the work of five international contemporary artists – Floris Neusüss, Pierre Cordier, Susan Derges, Garry Fabian Miller and Adam Fuss – who work without a camera. Instead, they create images on photographic paper by casting shadows and manipulating light, or by chemically treating the surface of the paper.

Images made with a camera imply a documentary role. In contrast, camera-less photographs show what has never really existed. They are also always ‘an original’ because they are not made from a negative. Encountered as fragments, traces, signs, memories or dreams, they leave room for the imagination, transforming the world of objects into a world of visions.

Adam Fuss  From the series 'My Ghost' (Butterfly Daguerreotype)
Adam Fuss From the series ‘My Ghost’ (Butterfly Daguerreotype)

Pierre Cordier 'Chemigram + Photogram circa 1958 CAT. 13' About 1958
Pierre Cordier ‘Chemigram + Photogram circa 1958 CAT. 13′ About 1958

Garry Fabian Miller 'The Night Cell, Winter 2009/10' 2009/10
Garry Fabian Miller ‘The Night Cell, Winter 2009/10′ 2009/10

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Susan Derges, ‘Vessel No.3 (1)’, 1995. National Media Museum, Bradford, © Courtesy of Susan Derges

68827-large PC 5 WEB
Pierre Cordier ‘Chemigram 20/3/92 “from La Suma of Jorge Luis Borges” 1992