This week on Photojournalism Now: Friday Round Up – it’s all about Australian women photographers. The Female Eye makes its debut in China at the Pingyao International Photography Festival, and the exhibition Three Women Artists in Country to open in Sydney. There won’t be a Round Up next week, but we’ll be back 27 September.
Exhibitions: Pingyao, China
The Female Eye
The Australian exhibition, The Female Eye, recognises the unique visual signatures that mark the documentary photography of four female photographers: Nicola Dracoulis, Kerry Pryor OAM, Ilana Rose and Helga Salwe.
Curator Alison Stieven-Taylor says the exhibition “is not meant as a statement about whether women see differently to men, rather it is an acknowledgment of the role of the individual gaze in creating a compelling visual narrative.”
“Documentary photography is often used as a catch-all phrase, the nuances in storytelling in images under played. When I was curating this exhibition, I had particular imagery in mind. I was looking for stories that complemented each other, and also showed the scope of work being created by women photographers in Australia today. At the same time I wanted to convey how documentary can be representative of a range of approaches.”
The Female Eye presents a collection of 40 works and will make its debut at the Pingyao International Photography festival on 19 September in China. Established in 2001, the Pingyao International Photography Festival is one of the longest running and most prestigious festivals in China. It’s held in the Ancient City of Pingyao, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. This annual festival presents a vast array of shows from around the world, with exhibitions mounted in disused factories, in outdoor installations and cultural venues.
“These four artists exemplify the unique perspective that women can bring to documentary photography. Each has created a body of work that is infused with their own visual language, as they explore four very diverse, yet universal themes – loss, longing, love and hope. I’ve championed Australian photographers for many years and am thrilled to showcase the talents of these amazing women at such an important international event.”
The Female Eye features work from Nicola Dracoulis’ long-term project Vivier no Meio do Barulho (Living in the Middle of the Noise), which captures the lives of nine young people living in Rio’s notorious favelas. Seven years after the first portraits were taken in 2006, Dracoulis returned to discover how their lives had changed.
“Like any group, each person has a different story, some with dramatic events in their journeys, some with more quiet rites of passage,” says Dracoulis who is now based in New York. “Universal themes of growing up are depicted alongside the challenges and social issues faced by those who live in poverty in Brazil. These everyday stories offer another perspective on a world that is often eclipsed by the media attention on glamorous beach carnival life or dramatic violent crime.”
Kerry Pryor’s The Lost Generation conveys the toll that AIDS has inflicted on Ethiopian families. Her pictures, quiet and thoughtful, speak of the loss of an entire generation. Pryor, who this year was awarded an OAM for her photographic work in the charity sector says, “It is an incredible privilege and responsibility to be invited into someone’s home to tell their story. I worked on this series over a number of years, building trust and developing relationships. Often visits were just about having coffee and a chat. It was wonderful to get to know these families and to tell a story that allows us to move pastcultural differences and celebrate the love of family, while paying tribute to those who are no longer here.”
Ilana Rose is best known for her social justice documentary work, but in This Chicken Life she takes an irreverent and joyful look at the sub-culture of chicken lovers, where chickens are adored pets! These playful portraits capture the “chooks” and the Australians who love them. “At the core of This Chicken Life is a story about relationships,” says Rose, adding that a book of the same name will be published later in the year with writer Fiona Scott-Norman. “Having chickens in your life is so hot right now. Chickens are the new black! It was great fun working on this light-hearted project. I met some amazing people and gained a new appreciation for their feathered friends.”
Helga Salwe’s Mother Country features images that are intensely personal, and talk of isolation, both allegorical and literal, and the desire to escape.Salwe, who is now based in Melbourne, took these images in the years she was living on a farm in remote, rural Australia. “I was documenting life in my community but I was also in a deeply unhappy and abusive marriage, I wanted to leave but didn’t know how to. The photographs have a lonely, melancholic atmosphere that reflects a difficult time in my life but they are also records of what life is like in a small rural enclave. For me photography is a tool for understanding myself and the world we live in and of course what is most personal is most universal.”
The Female Eye joins a strong Australian contingent at the festival, which features hundreds of exhibitions from around the world.
The Pingyao International Photography Festival
The Female Eye: The Diesel Engine A1 Gallery 19-25 September, 2019
Three Women Artists in Country
This group show features the work of three Australian women artists with deep connections to Country – photographers Judith Nangala Crispin and Juno Gemes and sculptor Ana Pollak.
Gallery Director Dominic Maunsell has brought these artists together “in order to underscore the fragility and beauty of our natural landscape, and the importance of women’s voices in Australian culture”.
Judith Nangala Crispin’s Lumachrome glass prints honour fallen animals and birds. A poet as well as a photographer, Crispin’s captions are as sublime as the images.
In this collection, Juno Gemes’ photographs of life on the Hawkesbury River feature along with images from her conceptual Terra Ancien/Terra Nova (2003-2007).
Ana Pollak’s sculptures in various media reflect the myriad natural forms on Dangar Island.
Opens 17 September until 5 October 5.
Maunsell Wickes at Barry Stern Galleries
19 Glenmore Rd, Paddington