Nomadic Siberian women. David Bowie. The trans-masculine community. Blind in Kashmir. Pop Surrealism. Sex workers. The Rohingya crisis. Helmut Newton.
The annual 2019 Head On Photo Festival will unleash another broad and eclectic selection of exhibitions over two weeks in Sydney, from May 4 – 19.
The not-for-profit organisation, celebrating its 10th anniversary, showcases local and international photography through indoor and outdoor installations across 58 Sydney venues.
Here is Inside Imaging‘s brief guide of the Featured Program.
First, the big name.
A selection of pictures by internationally celebrated fashion photographer, Helmut Newton, is on show at Lyons Gallery in Paddington. His erotic black-and-white couture style of photography needs no introduction, and is sure to attract a crowd.
The Newton exhibition at Lyons Gallery will appear alongside Gods of Suburbia by Israeli photographer, Dina Goldstein. Her highly complex large-scale works are ‘a visual analysis of religious faith within the context of the modern forces of technology, science and secularism’.
A short walk from Lyons Gallery is the Head On Festival Hub.
The Hub is where visitors are advised to, ahem, ‘head on’ to if they are strapped for time and want the most photography concentrated in one location. Next door is the Paddington Reservoir Gardens, which houses several wonderful outdoor installations across the Roman-style aqueduct architecture.
Across the two venues, there’s over 20 installations within a frisbee throw from each other, including the centrepiece Head On Portrait Prize exhibition, as well as the Student and Mobile Prize exhibits.
Festival Hub is home to a mini-retrospective of work by master Japanese photographer, Masayoshi Sukita, whose iconic photos of David Bowie include the Heroes album cover and this pretty number…
But it’s not all rock stars, pop surrealism and Vogue covers. Photojournalism and documentary photography has possibly the largest presence in Paddington.
Ladies In Waiting by Israeli photographer, Roni Ben-Ari, is the result of a two-year project documenting the intimate lives of prostitutes in Israel, India, the Netherlands, and Russia.
‘My work continues a tradition of early 20th century black-and-white documentary-style photography. I intend to shed light on those individuals who are marginalised from society: the rejected, the invisible, and the voiceless,’ Ben-Ari explains. ‘I started this project after volunteering for a mobile health clinic in Tel Aviv, where we provided medical care and food to women who work as prostitutes. The mobile clinic was comprised of a doctor, a nurse, a social worker and volunteers who travel on scheduled days to the areas where prostitutes live and work.’
There’s also three intimate portrait exhibitions that closely examine marginalised groups in vastly different societies.
Not Beautiful But Beautiful by South Korean photographer, Giljung Yoon, is a series of black-and-white nude studio portraits of disabled people. Yoon says his ambition with the series was to ‘highlight their facial expressions and gestures in a manner that validated and elevated their feelings and desires’.
American Boys by New York-based Australian photographer, Soraya Zaman, is an intuitive representation of US trans-masculine communities. Zaman travelled to each subjects’ hometown and photographed them in their personal surroundings, to provide viewers with a raw and honest snapshot into the lives of transgender people.
The Valley Of Shadows by Italian photographer, Camillo Pasquarelli, shows portraits of people wounded by security forces in Kashmir, a territory disputed by India and Pakistan. The Indian government provided forces with shotgun shells filled with lead pellets to quell protesters, which has killed dozens and left around 1000 young men blind.
‘For youngsters left with one eye reading has become too painful, thus forcing them to abandon their studies, giving up the chance of pursuing higher education. Men left blind, the only breadwinner in the family, are unable to work and provide for their beloved ones,’ Pasquarelli explains.
‘Carrying dozens of pellets in their bodies, victims face unknown long term health consequences. Left partially or totally blind, victims speak of the darkness descended upon their lives. The only things left to see are the faint shadows that surround them. ‘
Like Last Year’s Snow by Oded Wagenstein follows a group of elderly women living on an isolated peninsula in freezing Northern Siberia. The women were formerly part of a migrating society of reindeer herders, but are now spend their days in solitude away from the community.
Craving more polar photographs? Polaris by Greek photographers, Elena Kollatou and Leonidas Toumpanos, is a series of landscape photos that explores social and environmental impact of commercial development in the Arctic regions.
Moving away from The Hub, there’s plenty more to see in Paddington.
Exodus: Rohingya Refugee Crisis by Australian Walkley Award winning photojournalist, David Dare Parker, is showing at Delmar Gallery. Parker visited Cox’s Bazaar District in Bangladesh from November to December 2017 as a freelance photographer, to tell the story of Rohingya refugees who fled from conflict in Myanmar.
Polish photographer, Agata Grzybowska, also has an exhibition at Delmar called 9 Gates Of No Return. The series is ‘about loneliness that studies the lives of the outcasts, fugitives and exiles who dropped out of society after World War Two to live in the mountains of Bieszczady’.
Head On also has a ticketed panel discussions over the opening weekend, May 4-5; as well as free artist talks. It’s worth picking up a program to check if there’s an artist talk nearby, as they provide valuable insight into the vision and creative drive behind the photos.
There’s much more happening. Too much. Visit the Head On website to find out more.
Head On Photo Festival runs from May 4 – 19 in Sydney.