photography

I cannot easily shake off the village. -Thoreau

'Good Grief!' was on last week and was well received. I performed (with a guest) and I really enjoyed the experience. I had planned to spend the whole opening inside the structure. I cannot easily shake off the village. - Thoreau was about my ideal form of escape: a structure that would serve as both a workspace on its upright position and as a resting space once lying on its side. Moving, lifting, & tilting of the structure all had to be performed by myself. I saw these basic tasks as fundamental in representing effort in seeking some personal space to think or to relax.

Compromise

As part of the 2nd year VCA Photography class, we put together this show Compromise. The idea was to ask a non-artist relation to suggest a modification to a selected work of our choice. And we did as we were told!

I submitted this image I took while visiting my parents in Montreal back in 2013.

PHOTOGRAPHY MEETS FEMINISM: Australian women photographers 1970s–80s

Kitty’s shoes on couch, Still life (1988) - Janina Green

Kitty’s shoes on couch, Still life (1988) - Janina Green

I had the chance to see this show last week at the Monash Gallery of Art.  Great overview of the works of various Australian women photographers whose works I had yet to discover such as those of Helen Grace, Ponch Hawkes, & Robyn Stacey to name a few. I noted several hand coloured silver gelatin prints throughout the exhibition. One of my VCA teachers, Janina Green, had a series of still life photographs which beautifully depicted the craft of hand colouring. The image shown above resonated with me: I saw fragility and delicateness in it. 

Yijun Liao

Discovered this Chinese artist Yijun Liao. I like her works. They’re witty and beautifully composed. Below is ’Relationships work best when each partner knows their proper’ from the series ‘Experimental relationship’, 2008.

Yijum Liao, ‘Relationships work best when each partner knows their proper’ from the series ‘Experimental relationship’, 2008. C-print, 24 x 20 “

Catherine Opie

A few weeks before I moved to Cleveland, I found this episode on Art21 about Catherine Opie’s commissioned photo series for the Hillcrest Hospital, in Cleveland. I was familiar with Opie’s self-portraits (see below)  and portraits of others depicting strong statements about sexuality, S&M culture, gender issues. I was really surprised at this completely different body of work. 

Her series was of various shots of Lake Erie. There’s something very calming with these images of water. I can see how this series works well in a hospital setting: it instills familiarity, contemplation, and meditation.

My photograph doesn’t give justice to the images. Nor does the spot lighting on site.

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Self Portrait / Nursing, 2004

C-print, 40 x 32 inches (101.6 x 81.3 cm)

Ed. of 8

Transformer Station now showing Todd Hido

I went to see a photography show by Ohio-born artist Todd Hido at Transformer StationExcerpts from Silver Meadows is about memory, and where Hido grew up. Some of his photos reminded me of stills from a David Lynch movie. I really liked the eeriness of those.

The gallery is worth checking out too. It’s a newly renovated substation.

"In a Lonely Place" by Gregory Crewdson @ CCP

If you haven’t seen the Gregory Crewdson’s show In a Lonely Place yet, hurry as it ends this weekend. Crewdson is best known for his highly constructed images which resemble film noir stills as seen in his series Beneath the roses 2003-2008. I’m a big fan of that series because of the way it conveys drama and mystery. Also, it’d be every photographer’s dream (or maybe just one of mine) to have the ability to turn a whole street into a set for a photo shoot and have access to a large crew just for lighting. The production involved behind each photo is undeniably impressive. The detail in these large format photos is amazing. Crewdson takes staged photography to another level.

4 things I learnt after exhibiting

On Monday, I went to take down my exhibition at the C3 Contemporary Art Space. This was my first show as an undergraduate which turned out well. Here are a few things I learnt from this whole experience.

  1. Sitting in the gallery invigilating I met fellow exhibiting artist, Alyshia Boddenberg.  I wasn’t familiar with her work before this show and I thought it was such a great opportunity to discover a new local artist, to learn about her experiences since she graduated (2008), and to network. We talked about shows we’ve seen, artists worth checking out, and about our current art practice.
  2. I learnt from C3 gallery manager, Jon Butt who commented ”Exhibiting artists need to spend time looking at their work to see how it stands in the space and if changes can be made.” This sounds familiar. Our teachers always encourage us to experiment different ways of hanging or displaying our works. Also you learn to work around things you can’t change about the space. Personally, I don’t think I could have hung the prints differently. The lighting was even so it was easy to display the works. There was an exit door, a fire hose, and a fire extinguisher on one of the walls which I thought would break the flow of my photo series. I worked around it and I don’t think it distracted too much. 
  3. The third point has to do with experimenting with materials. I face mounted all my prints on polished perspex. The idea came from one of my VCA teachers, Janina Green, who suggested I tried it. I investigated the technique and spoke with  Stephen Haley, the Graduate Coordinator of Research (MFA program) at VCA, who uses perspex mounting for his work. I found out that although the mounting is a bit expensive (but cheaper than framing), the glossy perspex finish not only accentuates sharpness and colour, but protects the print as well. On the down side, perspex can easily scratch but it can be polished back. Also, the print can peel off the perspex if it’s not mounted properly or humidity gets in. In the end, storing your work appropriately is important regardless of the media used. Colour Factory was the place to go for this kind of job. The final works turned out great and I’m happy with the choice I made. The feedback was positive.
  4. The last point has to do with the importance of documenting the show. I quickly found out that photographing a reflective surface is not ideal. I’m sure there is a way to avoid reflections. I’ll use installation shots and a few close ups, but the digital files are the most important for archival purposes.

Barbara Kasten

Studio Construct 118, 2011, Archival pigment print, 43.75x53.75 in

A student mentioned Barbara Kasten with regards to my recent work. I guess my constructed still life series triggered a connection. Kasten was new to me. I discovered she had an amazing ability to create simple installations with strong illusionistic effect. Her minimal use of light is quite effective on the reflective surfaces of her objects. I’m very impressed by her studio work.

What's on at Blindside and Edmund Pearce Galleries

Kubota Fumikazu, pen on paper

I stopped at Blindside gallery to see the current exhibitions, in Gallery one there is Chris Bennett who explored the concepts of isolation and alienation in society through oil paintings. In Gallery Two is featured Kubota Fumikazu ’s exhibition ‘(Un)fortunately no longer human’ whose intricate pen on paper works look like imaginary architectural blueprints. Fumikazu was in the gallery at the time. We chatted about his process which starts with a small scale drawing which is then projected on the final print and traced out. I admire the meticulous work that comes out of the simple use of a black pen on paper. It is worth checking out.

Jessica Tremp

From the 7th floor of the Nicholas Building, I went to see the current show at Edmund Pearce gallery (2nd floor). Currently showing, is a photography exhibition entitled ‘Body’ featuring Jane Burton, Joanna Collyvas, Heather Dinas, Lee Grant, Colin Page, Jessica Tremp, and Konrad Winkler. This gallery is the only one in the CBD that focuses on photo media and is at its 3rd show since its opening.

The show includes amazing portraits and self-portraits (in the case of Jessica Tremp) worth checking out. I was already familiar with the works of Jane Burton and Jessica Tremp. I met Jessica 5 years ago via a Melbourne-based photo group.

I discovered Joanna Collyvas’ works involving family history, fabric, and femininity which I found interesting. I noticed that more than half of the exhibition involved the female body. I wonder if this was a coincidence, or a reflection on how the female body as subject matter continues to be more depicted than the male body in visual arts. This is probably worth an essay.

Memory, dreamscape, identity, intimacy, history, and feelings were some of the topics that were explored by the artists. Most of the works exhibited were constructed or staged and only one series, Konrad Winkler’s to be precise, consisted of a more intimate approach in photography reminiscing of Nan Goldin. Overall, this group show gives a good overview on various styles of photography by emerging and established Australian artists. 

'Traditional artists are priests /contemporary artists are whores' - curated by Fiona Estelle Blandford at Seventh Gallery

Fiona Estelle Blandford, A Tableau for 2010, 2010

Last Wednesday I attended Seventh Gallery's first opening of the year. The show is curated by the artist Fiona Estelle Blandford and is entitled ‘Traditional artists are priests /contemporary artists are whores’. The exhibition is a group show featuring works of the curator, Blandford, as well as of Angeliki Androutsopoulos, Anita Belia, Kelly Manning and Alice Parker. It is an investigation of the theory of ‘Expanded painting’ and the relationship between the mediums. 

I particularly enjoyed the still life photographs of Blandford. I have previously met the artist at Seventh Gallery last month during their Super Sell-Out Sale and Somewhat Silent Action. Lucky me, I left with one of her prints, ‘Fox on the carpet, 2008’! For this show, Blandford’s photographs involve a series of stylised food arrangements shot in studio with a digital Hasselblad. Each print is individually lit and is pinned on black painted walls. This accentuates the contrast of the images making them luminescent. The lighting in each photograph is amazing. The photo series, ‘Still life for 2010’, featuring ‘A tableau for 2010’, explores the political and the historical references of traditional ‘still life’ painting. Having worked as a chef, Blandford’s first hand experience with food enables her to investigate our society’s indulgence and over consumption of ressources. 

Fox on the carpet, 2008

Best photography books of 2011

Photo-eye compiled a list of the best books in photography of 2011 recommended by photographers, writers, and publishers. Some of the contributors include Adam Bell, Martin Parr, and Alec Soth to name a few.

The most popular book is 'Illuminance' by Rinko Kawauchi. I have never heard of this contemporary Japanese photographer before reading this list. Now I’m intrigued. She is known for capturing the beauty of ordinary moments that we often ignore. Her palette is soft and the final images are diaphanous from what I can gather from the available online images of her works. The book looks beautifully clothbound.

There’s plenty of other books recommended depending on your interests.