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'Headlines' was the title of a recent exhibition by PhotoForum member, and Elam postgraduate student Jon Carapiet, dealing with ‘The Media’ and our ability to assimilate it into the fact and fiction of our lives.
The show was advertised by a wonderful postcard of rephotographed images of the royals, Charles and Di, and gained media attention, and a respectable audience.
It raised questions of how the media uses personalities, and bends the facts in order to work real stories and events into its own format. Jon presented largish Type C rephotographed portraits of such notables as NZ tv presenter, John Hawkesby, (who came as a viewer as well), Thatcher, Mother Teresa, Rachel Hunter, Bolger, Prince Charles, and Diana.
Some of the faces were wide mouthed in full scream, and similar expressions, others (e.g. Mother Teresa) sat somewhat serenely. Some of the screamers, presented quite out of their original context, seemed to parody the scream, and I found that it made me look again at all of them, to see if any were really screaming.
Jon saw these people as both real or fictitious characters who are screaming at or because of the headlines that surround them on the pages of the media. Headlines of ongoing and rising crises in our society. Even those who the media raises to high status are forced to mouth a silent scream because of their/our plight.
Presented on a white wall, in twos and threes, some groups were squeezed into corners. An accompanying part consisted of rephotographed images of photocopied hands that appear in The Womans Weekly as part of a palm readers page. These were tucked almost out of the way under a stairwell, and although they talked again about personality, and very much about their own production, they sat a little awkwardly as part of this exhibition.
Jons' work, coming very much from post modern concerns, and with a lot of consideration behind each detail, seems unique in New Zealand, both from its concerns and the techniques of unpretentious rephotography he uses.
One problem that remains for me though, is whether or not a gallery environment can work to raise such serious concerns. In my mind, an audience is conditioned in a certain way, as soon as they walk through a 'gallery' door. The 'art market' takes too much power away from some work. No matter whether work sells or not (and this is especially relevant in the small market of NZ), the act of putting a price tag on work swings the raison d'etre over into the realm of collectable, valuable, investment.
Jon had another show in October, at the George Frazer Gallery in Auckland . Titled Duplicities, it looked at the uses of images on the media page, by directly collaging news and advertising images that have appeared in recent papers and magazines, along with lines of text from similar sources.
Jon is hoping to produce a booklet relating to this exhibition which will be distributed to PhotoForum members as part of their subscription.