Image © Cristobal Palma

Acclaimed architectural and urban landscape photographer and filmmaker Cristobal Palma will be speaking in Auckland.

Cristobal Palma will present the keynote presentation at the MOVING SPACES SYMPOSIUM

Fri 22 Sept, 6.00pm
Whitecliffe College of Arts & Design
24 Balfour Road, Parnell
Auckland, 1052
New Zealand

Cristobal Palma is an architectural photographer and filmmaker based in Santiago, Chile where he founded Estudio Palma.

Palma studied at the Architectural Association (AA) in London before practicing as a photographer focused primarily on architecture and urban landscapes. His editorial work includes commissions for: MonocleWireThe New York Times and Domus.

Selected solo exhibitions include Paisajes locales, AFA Gallery, Santiago (2009); Espacio continuo, AFA Gallery, Santiago, curated by Camilo Yañez (2012); Espacio continuo, ZavaletaLab, Buenos Aires (2013); Punto de vista, Galeria Tajamar, Santiago (2014); Espacio Continuo, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Santiago (2014); Construcción, Galeria XS, Santiago (2015).

In 2010 Palma began to produce short architectural films and his work has been shown in Canada, Colombia, Portugal and Italy. In 2012 Palma’s film work was presented at the Chile Pavilion at the 13th Venice Architecture Biennale: CANCHA. In 2013 his film Piling Up won ‘Best Architecture Short Film’ at ArqFilmFest in Santiago, Chile.


Moving Spaces is an interdisciplinary symposium that will bring together academics, practitioners and researchers to address the expanded field of architectural filmmaking

Sat 23 Sept, 9.30am – 5.00pm (at same location)

Symposium Speakers:

Louise Mackenzie – Cinecity Architectural Film Project, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia

‘Abject Nature: Haunting the modern city in Jacques Tati’s Play Time

Dr Andrew Denton – Head of Department: Postgraduate Studies at the School of Art and Design, at Auckland University of Technology, and a director at AUT’s App Lab.

‘Imperceptible Entities of Enormous Finitude: Cinematic Affects and Anthropocenic Cities’

Chris Brown + Dawid Wisniewski – senior visualisers, Warren & Mahoney Architects, Auckland, New Zealand

‘The Art of Visualisation from Virtual Reality to Architectural Film’

Professor Thomas Mical – Head of School, School of Art and Design, Faculty of Design and Creative Technologies, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand

‘Architecture for Panoramic Hypermodernity’

Both the keynote talk and symposium and screening are free to attend but registration is necessary.

Places can be booked here:
Cristobal Palma keynote talk – Fri 22 Sept, 6pm
Symposium & Screening 22 – 23 Sept

For further information about Moving Spaces, please contact
David Cowlard:info@architecturalfilm.space

www.architecturalfilm.space
#mvgspaces17

David Cowlard
Lecturer
Photo Media Dept.

 

It is with great sadness that we learn that our good friend and colleague, Jocelyn Carlin has died after a long illness.

Jocelyn was for many years a valued member of PhotoForum, as a subscriber, exhibitor and organiser, since the formation of PhotoForum/Wellington in 1976.

Among many other things, she helped to organize the exhibitions ‘Open the Shutter’ in 1994 and ‘Currency’ in 1995 at the Auckland War Memorial Museum, the New Zealand lecture tour by UK photographer David Hurn in 1996, and Wellington’s FotoFest in 1998.

We were pleased to include several of Jocelyn’s pictures in the 2014 survey publication PhotoForum at 40, and she generously supplied a lot of carefully preserved archival material for that book and the associated touring exhibition.

We were privileged to support the 2016 publication of her book, ‘Every Picture Tells a Story’, designated as PhotoForum issue number 85. A unique and wonderful book that charts a working photographer’s voice and career in an elegant and informative way, we were delighted to be able to support it, as Jocelyn generously supported the work of so many others over the years.

Rest in peace Jocelyn.

Geoffrey H.Short
PhotoForum Director
12/9/2017

Update:
Funeral notice


Len Wesney, Baptism, Christchurch, 1972. The Active Eye, 1975. Plate 99.

 

Len Wesney, photographer, 1946 – 2017

We note with great sadness the recent death of Len Wesney in a house fire in Christchurch.

Len’s work appeared in issue 20 of Photo-Forum magazine in 1974, and he was a tutor for a PhotoForum summer workshop in Wellington in 1976.

His wonderful picture Baptism, Christchurch, 1972 was one of three pieces included in the 1975 touring exhibition The Active Eye and we were pleased to include it in the recent history of PhotoForum, PhotoForum at 40 by Nina Seja (Rim Books 2014).

Athol McCredie, curator of photography at Te Papa has written a moving and informative tribute to Len and his work on the Te Papa website:
http://blog.tepapa.govt.nz/2017/08/17/len-wesney-photographer-1946-2017/

Len Wesney, photographer (1946–2017)

Another detailed obituary, by Maddison Northcott, appears on the Stuff website
https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/96084337/life-story-inquisitive-photographer-leonard-wesney-marched-to-his-own-drum

Geoffrey H. Short
PhotoForum Director
04/09/2017


SZIPE – The First Shenzhen International Photography Exhibition  21 – 24 2017

 

JBT©20170622111: Lineup of organisers and guest exhibitors at the Opening Ceremony Shenzhen Convention and Exhibition Center in Futian

Themed “Postures of City,” the First Shenzhen International Photography Exhibition (SZIPE) organised by the Shenzhen Federation of Literary and Art Circles and the China Photographers Association, is intended to become an annual four-day day event.

Billed as the largest photography exhibition in Shenzhen’s history, the main display was presented in Hall 6 of the handsome, modern 7,500 sqm Shenzhen Convention and Exhibition Center in Futian District. Thirteen parallel exhibitions, which I did not see, were also being held at 10 locations in different districts of Shenzhen, all on the theme of growing cities around the world.

Three foreign exhibitors do not an international exhibition make, of course, but the pertinent ambition is to put Shenzhen on the map of places to go in China to see significant photographs as communication and expression. Many of the works on display were in fact made outside of China and reflect the tourist boom that has accompanied China’s increasing affluence and “Opening Up.” The stage is now set for better and perhaps bigger future exhibitions of relevance to Shenzhen’s lively and growing art audience.

JBT©20170622143 Exhibition in Hall 6 of the Shenzhen Convention and Exhibition Center in Futian District, Shenzhen.

 

JBT©20170621001: The 11.30pm welcome to Shenzhen from Lai Xuhui, Department Chief of the Shenzhen Federation of Literary and Art Circles, after our long flight delays from Beijing. Guest curator Su Yuezhou is at centre, flanked by Brian Leng, our energetic volunteer student helper. The scene is the lobby of the sparkling new Lafont International Hotel

The international (foreign) contingent

Two major contemporary foreign photographers were featured: Britain’s Brian Griffin and France’s Yann Layma and the historical exhibition co-curated by Su Yuezhou and myself featured the late Tom Hutchins (1921-2007), an outstanding overlooked New Zealand photojournalist who came to China in 1956.  Our exhibitions were shown alongside those of a group of outstanding Chinese photographers including Tongshen ZhangYingli LiuZhu XianmingWang YuwenChen Jin, and Fu Yongjun. Continue reading the full blog HERE

 

Source: johnbturnerphotography.blogspot.co.nz

 

Published on John B. Turner’s website is as an exclusive guest portfolio of  46 cell phone images by the internationally acclaimed Beijing-based Gao Brothers. The featured work was selected from their new Chinese language book.

You can view the portfolio HERE

 

 

A unique and priceless document of Thames from 1973-76.

John James Fields (1938-2013) was born on January 18 1938 in Gloucester, Massachusetts, U.S.A. He first came to New Zealand as a petty officer serving in the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet aboard the destroyer U.S.S. Rowan. This country made an impression on the young sailor who would return in 1966 with his Australian bride and settle in Auckland.

John Fields underwent specialist training including at the Leica Photography School in Boston in 1963. Further study at Harvard University in expeditionary filming and enthnographic stills technique and at Massachusetts Institute of Technology  (MIT) in colour photography/stills completed his formal training. By this stage he had already become one of the The Boston Globe’s most successful photographers winning three awards for most popular photographs at that leading newspaper.

He went on to become photographer at Massachusetts General Hospital 1964-66 including in electron microscopy. He was invited by Dr. Stan Bullivant to accompany him to Auckland with a cutting-edge electron microscope and be the photographer. In 1966 he began work at the Cell Biology Department at the University of Auckland where he commissioned the darkroom.

In 1967 John first became fascinated with Thames. He started photographing in July 1973 and in 1975 he was awarded the first QEII Arts Council grant to conduct a photographic survey of Thames. From 1973-75 he spent all his spare time photographing the town, its people and heritage. “I want to capture through photography the atmosphere of the town and its people.”

John Fields wanted to “make New Zealanders conscious of the history of their towns and inspire them to keep records of every building to be demolished, to make a master set of old negatives, photographs, maps and land deeds as a comprehensive and permanent record of the towns.” It had become apparent that a one-year survey as funded by the QEII Arts Council would not do justice to the subject. John Fields undertook an extended survey at his own expense that would eventually take him until April 1976 before he was satisfied with the results.

He talked about how he was attracted to the wooden built environment that Thames shares with this hometowns of Rockport and Gloucester on the eastern seaboard of the US in the state of Massachusetts. As a photographer he was visually attuned; additionally as a foreigner he saw Thames not just as another New Zealand town, but as something unique and special.

Clearly the town cast a spell on him because he would return most weekends over a period of three years. At first John confessed to feeling a rank outsider. The town folk and those he met at the Brian Boru Hotel, where he often boarded, were initially suspicious of him. Who was this inquisitive individual and why was he taking photographs of everything? When they realized that he was quite harmless he was embraced, perhaps not as a local but, as a regular visitor, who took an interest in everything they did and whose aim was to document the entire town.

The photographer was frequently armed with several cameras: his 5 x 7 inch large format Kodak view camera with large tripod and black cape and two 35mm SLRs. The 5 x 7 (with 4 x 5inch reducing board) was used for back and white film aswas one of the 35mm cameras. The third was to record Thames loaded with colour slide film.

To that end from 11-18 January 1976 John Fields exhibited along with some other work a small number of the Thames photographs at the North Thames School,Tararu, which later become an arts centre. It is fitting that in 2017, the 150th anniversary of the founding of the goldfields, 50 of the photographs together with almost all of the images made at the time will been seen by the public for the first time. Today these photographs are a unique and priceless document of Thames in 1973-75.

Firstly we must acknowledge the years of work by John Fields in bequeathing to us such a rich legacy of extraordinary images. They range across a broad range of styles to show the Thames and townspeople. All show his sophisticated vision and his unerring technique. Fields’ work is notable for its exceptional clarity and precise tonal balance – all of which he achieved before Photoshop and digital enhancement were thought of.

Curators at Te Papa recognize John Fields as one of the foremost photographers of his generation. Recent acquisitions by our national museum include several of the Thames photographs from this project. We are indebted to John Fields for his dedication and we are very sorry that he is not with us to share in the recognition of his achievement on a project that was very dear to his heart.

Thanks must go to all the support we have received from friends and family to bring the exhibition to fruition. Thank you to Patricia his wife, and his friend and colleague Ken Ball. We especially wish to thank Malcolm and Marcia Sowman who befriended John when he started his project in the 70s and for their unwavering support for this display. Thank you to Peter and Claudia Pond-Eyley for lending their Ford Prefect so John could drive in comfort to Thames when he could not get the NZ Road Services bus.

Thank you to the Committee of the Bella Pumphouse for their support and to John Isdale at Thames Museum of Mines, where an identical TV on which the same 30minute display of 500 images may be viewed.

This volume presents John Fields’ own edit of the 170 black and white of the more than 500 black and white and colour images he made.

Curators
David Langman
Allan Chawner, Conjoint Professor, University of Newcastle, NSW.

We are very excited to be involved with the exhibition ‘Real Pictures: Imaging XX’ curated by Nina Seja, opening at the Gus Fisher Gallery this Friday 2 June. PhotoForum is publishing the catalogue as PhotoForum issue number 88, which will be distributed to PhotoForum members and be available for sale at the gallery.
Dr Seja wrote the detailed history of PhotoForum ‘PhotoForum at 40’, and it is a pleasure to be collaborating with her again on this project, presenting work by five artists associated with the hugely influential photography gallery and laboratory Real Pictures, which operated in Auckland from 1979 to 1990.

Geoffrey H. Short
Director, PhotoForum Inc.
30/5/17

 

Catalogue for the exhibition ‘Real Pictures: Imaging XX’ at the Gus Fisher Gallery, 2 – 30 June. Exhibiting artists Sue Gee, Megan Jenkinson, Marie Shannon, Deborah Smith and Jenny Tomlin. Curated by Nina Seja in association with PhotoForum.


Jenny Tomlin, ‘Sedge, Windy Point, Whatipu, 1985’. From the series ‘The Well Kept Wilderness’.

Poster for the exhibition ‘Photographs by Marie Shannon’, Real Pictures, 1985. Image: ‘Waiting for the Tide’ 1985.


Megan Jenkinson, ‘Hand to Hand II’ 1985, Cibachrome collage.


Deborah Smith, ‘The Pursuit of Game (VIII)’ 1988.


Sue Gee, from ‘Chinese Ties’, 1983.

Aceh_Revives_cover

Author: Dr Noel Trustrum
Published by Saritaksu Editions, Bali

Book Specifications:
Size 28 x 24cm, 200 pages of contents
Approx. 130 full colour images
Hard-cover English launch August 2014
Hard-cover & Soft-cover Indonesian launch December 2014

A commemorative photo book

Celebrating the amazing spirit, resilience and achievements in Aceh, Indonesia since the devastating earthquake and tsunami of 2004 that decimated so many coastal communities, in print.

The photographer, Dr Noel Trustrum had the opportunity to work alongside the many people and organisations that contributed to the relief, recovery and rehabilitation efforts in Aceh directly after the tsunami, and has since returned to further document the recovery.

The bravery of the local people, many of whom lost their entire families and belongings, left such a strong impression with Noel that he published a small book “SCARS: Life after the Aceh Tsunami”, featuring a time-sequence of photographs depicting landscapes, people and the journey from desolation to recovery during a nine month period following the Tsunami. Noel and his team have researched a number of powerful untold stories and interviewed key people involved in the recovery process for this photo book highlighting the resilience of the people and lessons learnt.

Dr Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, founder of Indonesia’s BRR Institute (for Rehabilitation and Reconstruction), endorses this publication.

A compilation of images and inspirational stories
Working closely with Saritaksu Editions, a publisher based in Bali we have created a book that gives a voice to the photos and enables the Acehnese people, survivors and those involved in the recovery to tell their own story.

Aceh revives label

Book price NZ$60 (plus postage).
Email:
info@tenikau.co.nz

 


 

quiet-moments-cover-2017

I am now ready to take orders for my Quiet Moments 2017 calendar which will be available very soon, in time for posting overseas.

This year’s theme is edges, where different realities meet: the known and the unknown; the natural and the manufactured; the internal and the external.

Ordering Information:
• One or two calendars: $NZ18.00
• Three or more calendars: $NZ16.00 per copy
• P&P: $NZ 4.50 [NZ orders sent Fastpost; Overseas orders sent Airmail]

Closing dates for Christmas mailing:
Australia:  Wednesday 7 December
North America, UK, Europe:  Friday 2 December
South Pacific, Asia:  Friday 2 December
Rest of the World:  Wednesday 30 November

To place an order, click here

Feel free to forward this email to others who might be interested.

I hope you enjoy marking the passing months as the year progresses.

Warmly
Martin

Martin Taylor Photography

quiet-moments-sample-2017

 

 

Pingyao International Photography Festuival 2016 Sept. Tom Hutchins - Seen In China 1956

Pingyao International Photography Festival 2016 Sept.  Tom Hutchins – Seen in China 1956

I gave a summary of the install and opening of the Pingyao International Photography Festival (PIP) a few weeks ago. Time has passed and it’s taken a while to be able to report on the running and conclusion, partly because of the need to clear my head of the crazy China experience which included a trip to Beijing with John Turner as host.

John Turner with Melissa Crawford from NZ Embassy, with Phoebe Li in background

John Turner with Melissa Crawford from NZ Embassy, with Phoebe Li in background

In Beijing I saw the follow-on from the initial interest in “Tom Hutchins – Seen in China 1956”.  This included stronger interest in a new show that John is curating with Phoebe Li (“Recollection of A Distant Shore: A Photographic Introduction to the History of the Chinese in New Zealand”) which opened on 21 Oct at the Overseas Chinese History Museum of China. The Chinese Photographers Association filmed him talking about Tom Hutchins for a film documenting their 60-year history, as part of a teaching curriculum.

China Daily report on Recollection of A Distant Shore

Some of this was the result of the high level of interest in “Tom Hutchins – Seen In China” at PIP.  The installation pictures show that we were given a very prominent position with a huge poster image and text in English and Chinese facing the front door of Diesel Factory A2. We also found that we had a rich red wall which really made the black and white images ‘ping’ and even with the crowding of the 89 images the show looked stunning.  This came courtesy of Zhang Guotian, the director of the festival who seemed to have taken a personal and professional interest in the show, emphasising the importance to Chinese at a number of levels.

Director Zhang Guotian with John Turner. As well as the photography, we got to eat wonderful food with wonderful people.

Director Zhang Guotian with John Turner. As well as the photography, we got to eat wonderful food with wonderful people.

On the first day, a communist party contingent came to view the show, and the entourage flew through so quickly that we missed documenting it. John and I spent some considerable time talking with the many visitors on the first two days and we saw a large audience from young to old, with the elderly often taking an especial interest. One of John’s hopes is that an adult visitor recognises themselves as a child in or near a picture that Tom took, and can recall the ‘lao wai’ – foreigner with the camera who came through in 1956 – this person would obviously be older than 60 now.

Shanxi TV reporter with John and translator Chin Jay

Shanxi TV reporter with John and translator Chin Jay

We also had a visit from Shangxi province TV reporters. The reporter seemed to have (mostly) done her homework and came prepared for a good length interview. She followed up with clarifying questions and produced a good segment that can be seen here:
http://www.sxrtv.com/content/v/a/2016-9-24/1474716057174.shtml?from=singlemessage&isappinstalled=0

Shanxi TV reporter with John and translator Chin Jay

Shanxi TV reporter with John and translator Chin Jay

The site has a transcript in Chinese but a translate app like Google Translate (unavailable if you are in China without a VPN) will give an approximate version.

One result of the level of interest in the show is that the NZ embassy has got behind the Chinese in NZ show and it is hoped that they may help with further stages of the Tom Hutchins project that John is working on.  The history of the Chinese in NZ show is scheduled to open at the Auckland Museum in February 2017.

After the hard work and excitement of the first couple of days we managed to venture further afield to see some of the many other exhibitions.

Despite the variety and quality of the work on show, one of my personal concerns was that Pingyao is very much about traditional photography as opposed to ‘lens based art’ and because of this there seems to be a pinch on experimentation. A lot of the work that was trying to be challenging seemed to  apply  self imposed bounds. One work that showed promise was 4 framed ‘pictures’ that turned out to be video projections of torsos that were just perceptibly breathing but at a quick glance appeared to be straight photos.

Another, that sought to bring in political content and used multimedia, was ‘Since Then, No One Has Talked With You’ by He Bo.  Based around recent terrorist bombings, the large full face portraits of attackers were built from small images of varying density, then overlayed with very tiny red faces of victims that built up a morse code message across the surface of the pictures.  Small boxes on the wall, when opened, held typed messages.
There was perhaps too much layered meaning for me to work through  (having to decode the morse was just a bit much) but I applaud the attempt to try and make personal meaning and public statement about political terror acts that impact many of us as individuals and as a society.

Installation - He Bo

Installation – He Bo

As well as a lot of commercially oriented work, there was some wonderful student work in the 7 huge buildings set aside for universities, and probing work in the Group Exhibition of Female Photographers. One in particular, by Chan Oi-Yan was inspiring to see. It looked at a Hong Kong wetlands area ‘beautified’ into a tourist hotspot. Her text started “Land use can hardly stop its pace due to the intense population…” Her pictures contrast the fog-covered beauty of the area with the disorganised look of a native wetland. “The nature faked a natural scene, humans? do it well too”.

Work by Chan Oi-Yan

Work by Chan Oi-Yan

The tall and striking character of Xu Hao held also a critical intellect that gave her images (in a series called ‘Home’) an ability to question consumerism and its power to manipulate human needs. The mundanity of Ikea store interiors, with a price tag on everything, was where she set up a camera and captured people treating the mock Ikea home displays as their own. Families lounging as if at home, in-store but looking out as if wondering whether something was lost  “… where people seemed to forget their beating hearts”.

Work by Xu Hao

The photographs of Tu Chun, whilst superficially similar to Xu Hou because of the interiors in artificial light, were very different in intent. I sat with Chun for a long while enjoying his infectious smile in his own makeshift ‘home’ for the time of the festival, while he told me how he photographed immigrant families living in China. These interiors were real homes, styled by the owners themselves, the pictures considered and full of respect for the participants.

Tu Chun at home in his space

Tu Chun at home in his space

 

Tun Chun. Mobbed by spectators

Tun Chun. Mobbed by spectators

Peng Xiangjie showed some arresting, rich, black and white images of a dwarf community that appears to be both exploited and given a liveable job and lifestyle in a commercial theme park. I learnt this by talking to Peng for an hour through a translator. He sees Arbus as a strong influence but his approach with subjects seems much more long term and considered. Intense in his consideration of his own work and able to talk about the social politics, nevertheless, like many photographers he is mindful of his career, and this could influence the scope of his work.
http://cargocollective.com/PengXiangjie
http://www.photoint.net/detail_news_3638.html

Works by Peng Xiangjie

As mentioned previously, the New Zealand show from the Auckland Photography Festival, curated by Rosanna Raymond, gave space for Maori and Pacific Island photographers who look at their place in New Zealand in quite a different way to the Pakeha view that we often get. Many of the images can be seen at the link and some of the standouts for me were the constructed psycho sexual scenarios by Russ Flatt and the edgy and potentially conflicted work of Emily Mafile’o.
http://www.pip919.com/31/161309855.html

Works by Emily Mafile'o

Works by Emily Mafile’o

Peng Xiangjie and Claudia Fährenkemper interact with Claudias Armor work

Peng Xiangjie and Claudia Fährenkemper interact with Claudias Armor work

The quality and interest value of the international shows was high, with known photographers such as Bruno Barbey, Claudia Fährenkemper and Marcus Lyon and many other equally interesting people and work. Even with the days I had, I didn’t get through nearly enough. Visitor numbers just seemed unlimited, and it appears all the forums and talks were very well attended. Chinese photographers value the opportunity to meet and question overseas photographers.
Seeing Marcus Lyon’s work ‘in the flesh’ was inspiring, although it took until I got home and read about his intent that I really came into his work. This is a thing I despair over with galleried shows and festivals. They generally still treat the single image as ‘a work that communicates without language’. My personal viewpoint rejects that as outdated and untrue. I’m interested in the individual motivation and the politics that invade even a non-political picture. I might get hints of this from an image and some more from a series or curated show. But so much more can come out, inspire and move me if I can connect image with words and go back and forth.
I didn’t know, for instance, that Lyon creates his single images with digital manipulation, e.g his iconic “Exodus II, Dubai, UAE, 2010” – 750 cars filling the 12 lane Sheikh Zayed Road in a perfect grid, is in fact a composite of 1000 images.  Lyon: “I think an image taken at 125th of a second is kind of a lie” … He works up a final image with a goal of having the viewer ask “Is that really the world we live in?” This is the thing that really gets me buzzing and going back into the picture, but I had to come home to find it.
https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/feb/18/marcus-lyon-best-photograph-sheikh-zayed-road-dubai

Outside the Three Gorges installation

Outside the Three Gorges installation

A group show themed on the Three Gorges Dam was shown in a rundown area of the Cotton Mill buildings where you had to almost crouch down to enter a layered and dilapidated series of gloomy spaces. A variety of photographers presented work related to the dam and the forced migration of more than a million people in a variety of ways from straight documentary through to conceptual.

Three Gorges Installation space

Three Gorges Installation space

There were flaws to be sure, and it did give the impression that activism around the dam and the continuing social and ecological impact is a fait-accompli but nevertheless it was exciting to see the topic so strongly raised and it would be great to see Pingyao continue raising such topics.

Three Gorges Installation - 175 metre mark - Zhang Yi

Three Gorges Installation – 175 metre mark – Zhang Yi

 

Three Gorges Installation - I Built The Dam - Guan Zhenzhu

Three Gorges Installation – I Built The Dam – Guan Zhenzhu

 

So political intent was apparent at Pingyao in more than one way, but maybe the biggest political event was created by the local Communist Party representatives who seemed to be on orders from Beijing  to do just the opposite.
‘Jean-Pierre Laffont Legendary Photographer’ was a top-billed show with Laffont speaking at the opening ceremony. His work covered major political events through recent American history, yet the work was not immune from the flimsy and fickle hand of Chinese censorship. Twenty two images were removed from the large show with no warning.

One of the removed Laffont pictures

One of the removed Laffont pictures

Rumours circulated about which images and why, but the best and damning summary comes from Jean Loh in this article:
http://www.loeildelaphotographie.com/en/2016/10/12/article/159922682/pingyao-photographers-paradise/
and commented on by John Turner: “…it is time the Communist Party actually listened to its art experts and stopped insulting them with petty, dense and foolish censorship”.
The pictures removed included fairly mild nudity, some images of Rajneesh or Hare Krishna community members having a good time and others documenting Mexican migrants. One can speculate about why – Western access to extreme nudity and the concurrent ‘moral decline’ in the first case; China’s concern with large religious minorities and the potential power they can wield (e.g. Falun Dafa). In the Mexican case it was suggested that there is a political link with Mexico that is sensitive.

China, from my short visit, seemed incredibly safe and friendly, characteristics that arguably come  in part from a naive but heavily policed state.  For instance, after the awards ceremony, I was asked by fellow New Zealanders why the police had bailed me up and had been searching my bag. In fact, myself and two Chinese photographers had been photographing and showing our images to the military and police, leaving lenses on the ground . The ‘search’ was actually a policeman kindly zipping up my unzipped bag and making sure I didn’t lose anything.

So, nice for foreigners, but not so nice if you need to express an opinion about your very livelihood after your farm land has been confiscated by corrupt businessmen and compensation isn’t forthcoming.

How China deals with its complex transition is hard to know but heavy-handed and inconsistent censorship especially in the arts just creates ridicule,  both inside and outside the country.

Pingyao will be in its 17th year next year and the links with New Zealand continue to be strong. PhotoForum and the Auckland Festival of Photography have helped curate and manage a number of shows over the years and independent photographers such as Harvey Benge and Jenny Tomlin have brought their own work, so the potential for New Zealand work to be shown should only grow.

Hedyah Song de-installing the show while a final visitor views it.

Hedyah Song de-installing the show while a final visitor views it.

dehang-5img_3195

I want to acknowledge the hanging helpers that we had:  Zhang Weihuan, Wang Shengyuan and Fu Haocheng, and our de-hanger and transportation support Hedyah Song.  Along with translation from Chin Jay, and friends who helped get me lost and found around town Linda Zhang, Kaidi Huang  and Yang Lu.

All of the accompanying photographs were made by Stuart Sontier unless otherwise noted.