This week on Photojournalism Now: Friday Round Up – in Melbourne exhibitions by Kristian Laemmle-Ruff, and a joint show by Paul Batt and Kristian Haggblom and in Sydney Murray Fredericks’ Witness.
Woomera – Kristian Laemmle-Ruff
The lands of the Kokatha people in remote South Australia is the site of “the largest and most technologically advanced weapons testing range in the world,” the Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA). This massive space which spans more than 122,000 square kilometre is largely cloistered, a joint venture by the Australian and British governments. For more than 70 years this “theatre of aggression has subjected the WPA to nuclear bomb test, radioactive waste storage, a detention centre, the world’s largest uranium mine and countless missile and rocket tests.”
In the exhibition Woomera, Melbourne artist Kristian Laemmle-Ruffdraws focus on what he sees as “imperialism hard at work; conveniently tucked away ‘outback’ – out of sight, out of mind.”
He says, “Woomera exposes us to this contentious and highly confidential place, drawing attention to its dramatic, irreconcilable tensions; the cultural importance and stunning environments of this Country, and the violent, destructive activities that continue to be carried out upon it in the name of ‘progress’ and empire.”
It is an interesting visual treatment of a subject that is off limits and therefore difficult to access and visualise. I particularly like the aerial images that for me talk of surveillance and power, narratives that are loaded with symbolism. Here we are trapped in a web of others’ making where the red lines may signify the long reach of government power, or a sniper’s gun that has us firmly in its sights. Laemmle-Ruff’s work prompts us to think – should we as a collective public be asking questions about what has happened and what continues to go on at Woomera? Are we complicit in our silence?
10 April to 5 May
c3 Gallery, Abbotsford Convent, 1 St. Helier Street, Abbotsford
Brunswick Surfaces – Paul Batt and Kristian Haggblom
I love projects that look at Melbourne’s iconic urban environments and reveal the suburbs that have distinct personalities. In Brunswick Surfaces, Melbourne artists Paul Batt and Kristian Haggblom explore the iconic inner-city suburb of Brunswick. The pair writes, “The project is a personal ethnographic study that looks to the surfaces, and often macro details, of the urban environment to understand contemporary relevance and conflict. The project is inspired by American photographer Stephen Shore’s iconic American Surfaces and is made through combined analytic discussion and joint psychogeographical wanderings within Brunswick’s borders.”
Until 13 April – Motor Works Gallery 37- 41 Arnold St, Melbourne
WITNESS – Murray Fredericks
“Standing in the silken water, surrounded only by a boundless horizon, I sense a release, a surrendering as the self dissolves into the light and space.” Murray Fredericks
As readers know, I’ve featured Fredericks work several times over the years, drawn to his unique visual investigation of Lake Eyre, which began for this Sydney-based photographer 16 years ago.
‘WITNESS’ is an exhibition that combines the best of two series (ARRAY and VANITY) working with mirrors in remote, empty landscapes. It’s the first time any of these works have been shown in Sydney.
ARC ONE until 13 April, 36-40 Queen Road Woollahra