From John B Turner’s Photography blog: The First Shenzhen International Photography Exhibition 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

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Second report from Stu Sontier at Pingyao International Photography Festival, 2016.

 

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.

 

Report from Pingyao International Photography Festival 2016

 

Installation of 'Tom Hutchins - Seen in China 1956' exhibition curated by John B. Turner, Pingyao International Photography Festival, September 2016.
Installation of ‘Tom Hutchins – Seen in China 1956’ exhibition curated by John B. Turner, Pingyao International Photography Festival, September 2016.

 

Report from Stu Sontier at Pingyao International Photography Festival, 2016.

The festival is well under way now and the craziness of hanging and captioning well behind us. This year, John Turner has curated an approx 100 image show of Tom Hutchins work from 1956, and I am here as the PhotoForum representative.

We both arrived on the 17th with the exhibition to open on the 19th. There was no sign of our framed prints so we killed time meeting a local photographer friend of John’s.

The following day we, and our 3 assigned helpers, had to first unpack and then arrange the pictures in order. Then came the task of arranging them on the wall, with less space than we had expected.

We gradually worked our way through a number of problems including missing pictures and reformatting and printing captions, finishing late in the evening. Although without captions on the wall. Throughout the hanging we already had a stream of people coming through, peering closely, taking pictures of the pictures and pictures of us with the pictures, and selfies with the pictures. Pictures of anything it seemed.

The following morning we were treated to what can only be called an extravaganza of Chinese proportions, with huge video displays showing bizarre cartoons for some unknown reason. There were some formal speeches as there are at such things but the main purpose seemed to be to get the foreign photographers out in public and subject them to what they sometimes impose on others. Again we were photographed photographing our peers photographing all manner of subjects and in a sign of the time we were also filmed from above by several drones.

The military, police and swat teams were all out in force but generally used just to keep the photographers under control. After these formalities and another million pictures added to the global stock bank, we came back to our show to interact with the audience.

Pingyao is awe inspiring to say the least, with the work of 200 overseas and 2000 Chinese photographers on show. The visitor number is huge too and an uncountable number are moving through the space, with greater or lesser levels of interest. John has been interviewed numerous times with at least two TV crews being on the list. We’ve also started visiting a few of the many other exhibitions and meeting some of the many local and overseas photographers. That includes the other NZ contingent, who are part of a curated show by Rosanna Raymond and organised by the Auckland Festival of Photography. The show, Ata Te Tangata, showcases Pacific Island photographers with a range of cultural interests. Four of the photographers, and the curator are in Pingyao, and all, with John, participated in the “Dialogue with NZ Curators and Photographers” with a good audience turnout.

The festival continues for another two full days and as a first time visitor, I can recommend attending if you want a mix of culture shock, great food, misinterpreted English and Chinese (learn a little), and an awful lot of photography covering many genres and at many levels, from top local and international names, to outstanding student work.

 

Installation of 'Tom Hutchins - Seen in China 1956' exhibition curated by John B. Turner, Pingyao International Photography Festival, September 2016.

Installation of 'Tom Hutchins - Seen in China 1956' exhibition curated by John B. Turner, Pingyao International Photography Festival, September 2016.

Installation of 'Tom Hutchins - Seen in China 1956' exhibition curated by John B. Turner, Pingyao International Photography Festival, September 2016.

Installation of 'Tom Hutchins - Seen in China 1956' exhibition curated by John B. Turner, Pingyao International Photography Festival, September 2016.

Installation of 'Tom Hutchins - Seen in China 1956' exhibition curated by John B. Turner, Pingyao International Photography Festival, September 2016.

Installation of 'Tom Hutchins - Seen in China 1956' exhibition curated by John B. Turner, Pingyao International Photography Festival, September 2016.

 

 

2015 Pingyao International Photography Festival, China – Tony Carter (NZ) and Kirk Crippens (USA)

Close to Home and Far Away_exhibition

 

Close to Home and Far Away
Photographs by Tony Carter (NZ) and Kirk Crippens (USA)

Curated by John B. Turner for the 2015 Pingyao International Photography Festival, Pingyao, Shanxi Province, China, 19 – 25 September 2015.

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” Henry David Thoreau (1817 – 1862)

This exhibition is a lot to do with human aspirations. Not everyone can be rich or wants to be. But wherever we fit on the socio-economic scale, our character is shaped by our life experience and our imagination. Tony Carter and Kirk Crippens know this and it is reflected in their approach to environmental portraiture. These portraits represent a collaboration between strangers, and in this case, the people, like the photographers are from very different places, far from one another, sharing a new-found connection.

Kirk Crippens’ people live in the wealthy US city of Portland, Oregon, which prides itself on promoting individualism. Tony Carter’s people live in Ohura, a run down New Zealand mining town of 130 inhabitants west ot of Lake Taupo. Crippens’ investigation, ‘Portraitlandia,’ was made in response to a popular television comedy series, ‘Portlandia’, which satirises the city of 600,000 as a hub of liberal politics and alternative lifestyles. His mix of imaginative characters suggests a high level of personal reinvention and tends to confirm Portland as a consumerist paradise. Carter’s concern is to capture an overlooked aspect of New Zealand life that is more akin to its raw pioneering days.

Both photographers, like the US philosopher Henry David Thoreau, perceive difference and nonconformity as an expression of people being true to themselves. No matter what adversity they may have encountered in their lifetime, the people in these photographs are confident enough to let the photographer enter their homes or personal spaces to reveal as much as the eye can see.
John B Turner

Images & information for this exhibition can be viewed at John B Turner’s website

Update 18/10/15: View a selection of images from  the  2015 Pingyao International Photography Festival at PhotoForum’s facebook Pingyao 2015 album.

City Gallery Wellington announces upcoming exhibition: ‘History in the Taking – 40 Years of PhotoForum’

 

John Miller: Police Arson Enquiries, Wellington,  1972
John Miller Police Arson Enquiries, Wellington 1972.


History in the Taking: 40 Years of PhotoForum
14 March – 14 June 2015

3 May 2015, 2pm
John B. Turner, co-founder of PhotoForum, speaks with Luit Bieringa about events leading up to the foundation of PhotoForum and the beginnings of PhotoForum Wellington, from 1965-1975. Followed by a signing of Turner’s latest book, Te Atatu Me: Photographs of an Urban New Zealand Village. Event info here.

28 March 2015, 2pm
Geoffrey H. Short, director of PhotoForum, is joined by Nina Seja, author of PhotoForum at 40: Counterculture, Clusters and Debate in New Zealand to discuss 40 years of art photography in New Zealand. Event info here.

City Gallery Wellington
Civic Square
101 Wakefield St
Wellington
www.citygallery.org.nz
Hours: open daily 10am – 5pm

In 2014, Auckland’s Gus Fisher Gallery presented the exhibition History in the Taking  to celebrate PhotoForum’s 40th anniversary. City Gallery is pleased to be showing the exhibition in Wellington.  Featuring around 150 photographs, the show  traces the development of art photography in New Zealand.  All the images featured in PhotoForum publications, and many have become iconic. Stars like Robin Morrison, Peter Peryer, Anne Noble, Laurence Aberhart, Fiona Clark and Peter Black feature alongside equally remarkable but now-neglected figures. The show also includes publications, posters and other memorabilia.

These days, in New Zealand, photography is accepted as an art form, but it wasn’t always the case. In 1973, John Turner and others founded PhotoForum to lead the charge. Over the years, this grass-roots organisation has promoted photography through exhibitions and publications, particularly its magazine. Within the photography community, PhotoForum was also the catalyst for debates within photography, about the virtues of different approaches and individuals.  A product of the 1970s, PhotoForum saw the medium as entangled with counterculture lifestyles and protest movements. The show offers not only a history of New Zealand photography but also a slice of New Zealand social history. It is accompanied by Nina Seja’s comprehensive history PhotoForum at 40: Counterculture, Clusters, and Debate in New Zealand.

History in the Taking has been toured by PhotoForum. Thanks also to the Gus Fisher Gallery, Auckland.

Sourced:
http://www.citygallery.org.nz/exhibitions/history-taking-40-years-photoforum

Related articles:
Interview with John B. Turner, PhotoForum Co-Founder
Interview with Photographer Lucien Rizos
Capture Wellington – PhotoForum Instagram competition
Behind the Scenes with Pauline Autet – Curatorial Assistant & Researcher, City Gallery Wellington

 

New Zealand Presence at 2014 Pingyao International Photography Festival

John B. Turner’s Photography Blog, dated 16 December 2014:

The New Zealand contribution to the 2014 Pingyao International Photography Festival included three exhibitions, six floor talks, a three-hour seminar, several television interviews, posing with Chinese strangers, and making new friends from all over the world. The vocabulary of PIP volunteer translators, who were mostly students of the dynamic Amy Liu of Taiyuan Technical University, was seriously tested with our odd Kiwi accents and vernacular speech. Julia Durkin, Director of the Auckland Festival of Photography, somehow found time from intense networking to join the portfolio review team, while I, as a guest curator, was free to network after helping “my” photographers, Craig Potton (Nelson), Ian Macdonald, (Auckland), and the environmental sculpture couple, Martin Hill and Philippa Jones (Wanaka), whom I had not met before, to settle in. They were joined by Jenny Tomlin, from Auckland, who had a solo exhibition. To cap the NZ presence, Martin Hill won an ‘Excellent Photographer Award’ and 4,000 people were given a free copy of the 32-page A6 bilingual catalogue of To Save a Forest… Photographs by leading New Zealand conservationists: Martin Hill, Ian Macdonald and Craig Potton.

 

Macdonald_Potton_Hill_Pingyao2014©Phillippa_Jones
Philippa Jones: Ian Macdonald, Craig Potton and Martin Hill, Pingyao, 2014
JBT©20140917_035 Pingyao Int Photo Festival_To Save a Forest_NZ_Hill,Macdonald,Potton
John B. Turner: Student volunteers hanging Ian Macdonald’s prints for ‘To Save a Forest…. exhibition

As usual, there were pluses and minuses to the PIP Festival, with the positives dominating, and apart from the extraordinary array of photographs on display, it was the genuine warmth of their welcome, and the generous help from the volunteers that made a huge impression. Ian Macdonald summed up the exhibitions when after his initial foray he returned to exclaim that he had seen more outstanding photographs in two hours at PIP than he had seen during his recent exploration of London’s photography scene over a four week period. Ian and Elise Macdonald are legendary hosts, and Ian did as much as any official tourist bureau could to entice their new Chinese friends to get to enjoy a New Zealand visit and visit them at home in Matakana.’

Compared to her first PIP exhibition, featuring four Aucklanders, Chris Corson-Scott, Geoffrey Heath, Anita Jacobsen, and Vicky Thomas, last year, Elaine Smith’s 2014 selection was undermined by including the work of Qiane Matata-Sipu, who despite showing some promise, has simply not yet reached the level of technical competence or confidence shown by the other exhibitors: Tano Gago, Solomon Mortimer, and Tim Veling. To make matters worse, the exemplary work of Gago and Veling was displayed on the heavily shaded walls, while Matata-Sipu’s (and Mortimer’s) weaker prints received the limelight. Allocated what should have been a good space in the revamped Diesel Factory B7, the Auckland Festival was stuck between a rock and a hard place because of inadequate lighting for the best (and largest) works in their show. What’s the point of showing fine images under pathetically uneven lighting conditions? So I have to ask of the people responsible, Why wasn’t the same care taken downstairs, as that taken for the proper and more versatile lighting on the floor above where PIP’s permanent collection was newly installed? It shouldn’t be a big deal to provide reasonably even lighting on both sides of all display panels? It was galling to see, just around the corner, empty display spaces with beautiful natural light begging to be filled, and another filled with a display of backpacks for sale. (Julia Durkin informs me that restrictions on the use of nails or screws forced them to change Elaine’s planned layout for all of the work. “The lighting correction was requested,” Julia said, but like curator Alasdair Foster with his exhibition, she had no luck in getting the lighting fixed.)

JBT_20140925_237_NZ_AkFestPhotog_s_Te_Tangata_show_Diesel_revamped_B7_PIP
Auckland Festival of Photography’s exhibition ‘People’ at PIP

I was also tormented by the fact that no extra lighting would be provided to brighten the shaded side of the panels for our ‘To Save a Forest…’ show. The effect was to compromise viewing of most of Craig Potton’s work until late afternoon when the small floodlights unevenly illuminated his glowing prints and shaded Ian’s and Martin’s.

Martin Hill's work, 'To Save a Forest....', PIP
Martin Hill’s work, ‘To Save a Forest….’, PIP

That PIP suffers from serious underfunding is pretty obvious. The Shanxi government’s decision to make PIP more of a fair, with a new avenue of overhead lanterns lined with numerous small stalls offering tourist trinkets, demonstrates an inability to understand the uniqueness and the real needs of such a festival, with so much potential for increasing the number of informed foreign and Chinese visitors with a particular interest in photography. Equally, the razzle dazzle of the Awards event, designed exactly like a commercial television presentation, is another lost opportunity to seriously celebrate photographers and photography. Not least because when something went seriously wrong with the electronics this year, the small intended slide show of work on exhibition was not seen.

Coming back to the issue of display lighting, it was, ironically, very noticeable in B7, how beautifully lit the delightful and impressive cellphone exhibition, ‘My Bed & One Day in China’ was. Subtitled ‘The First China’s Top Ten Mobile Phone Photographers’ a kpkpw show curated by Fu Yongjun. When I asked why their lighting was superior the answer was that exhibitors could reposition the lights for their work. However that might be, the lighting system elsewhere, high in the ceiling, did not look that sufficient or flexible.

In last year’s PIP blog I had expressed my hope that the Auckland Festival and any other contributions would present significant work from south of the Bombay hills, to better represent photography in New Zealand, so it was good to see Veling, Hill and Potton included in this year’s offerings. A three-hour seminar by Hill, Potton, and Macdonald was attended by over 70 people, mainly in the younger age group, with several expressing their hope of visiting and studying in New Zealand.

Jenny Tomlin's pinhole exhibition 'Life Beyond the Lens', PIP 2014
Jenny Tomlin’s pinhole exhibition ‘Life Beyond the Lens’, PIP 2014

It is interesting, but by no means comforting, to see that some of the finest work featured at PIP is often displayed in the labyrinth of makeshift and often leaking spaces that PIP is renowned for. Thus Jenny Tomlin found her pinhole work displayed opposite that of Ed Kashi, the VII agency photographer, in equally dismal lighting in Diesel Factory A5, where my ‘Tint’ exhibition was held in 2013. For Jenny, who is an expert analogue printer, the main consolation and trade off was likely the huge number of people who “saw” her work and took an interest in her mysterious low tech images. “Glimpsed,” however, would be a more accurate description of the interaction from the great majority of onlookers who have not learned the rewards of paying adequate attention to pictures and their meaning. Some smart ones used the light from their cell phones to take a closer look in the shadows. Kashi, billed as a star attraction, and a PIP award winner, didn’t visit Pingyao to see where his three essays were displayed, but his work can best be seen in publications and on the web. Jenny’s best prints, with their nuances of tone, detail and colour need to be seen in decent lighting.

Continue reading the full article  HERE

John B. Turner, Beijing
http://johnbturnerphotography.blogspot.co.nz
http://jbt.photoshelter.com

To be or not to be: a book in the making? Leon Rose’s ‘Live, Train, Fight Like Thai’

Leon Rose Live Train Fight like Thai cover image

All stops are out for Auckland professional photographer Leon Rose who decided crowd funding was the way to go to get his first book of personal work published. He has until 7 January to raise the $NZ25,000 to cover the costs for his book, Live, Train, Fight Like Thai, documenting aspects of the Thai Kickboxing sport in New Zealand. It is a photo essay that grew and has occupied him for 10 years, half of his professional life. Muay Thai kickboxing is not well known in sports crazy New Zealand and that fact has been a major motivation for making him extend his essay. But it was not until he heard a motivational speech by Geoff Blackwell, the publisher of the popular M.I.L.K. – (Moments of Inspiration, Laughter and Kinship) photo books, that Rose decided it was time for him to approach PledgeMe.com to get sufficient funds to publish with PQ Blackwell Publishing.

At the end of November 2014 he had around one fifth of the funds pledged for his short-run book, which starting at $85 a copy for the basic version, heats up to $400 for his “Epic Edition”.  He is offering a signed print of the purchaser’s choice for the higher priced versions outlined on his PledgeMe page. Pledges are only deducted from supporter’s bankcards if the goal is reached by 7 January 2015, otherwise the project will not go ahead, or at least, not by this method.

Leon rose 20040212-ASBStadium0014

“Muay Thai is a most skilful art and is as beautiful as it is brutal”, Leon writes. “I learnt that to win in this sport involves the most incredible amount of dedication and training…. The dedication of these fighters who start their fight careers at very early ages, some as early as eight years old, is truly astonishing and is something I have a huge amount of respect for.”

Leon Rose’s commitment has resulted in a significant photo essay, which seems reminiscent of Geoff Winningham’s great book, Friday Night at the Coliseum, on the Texas wrestling scene. Rose, however, did not have the benefit of knowing Winningham’s work, and at this point, I was surprised to learn that he hasn’t done a rough layout of his ideal book, but will be working with  Blackwell publishing to make the selection.

Asked what he would do if for any reason crowd funding didn’t work for him, he wasn’t sure. But he has stepped into the photobook ring now, and one way or another, I suspect, his book will be completed. In the process the world will get to know more about the nascent Thai kickboxing scene in far away New Zealand than could ever be imagined.

Leon’s introduction and the nature of the PledgeMe crowdfunding process as a potential model for others to follow can be seen at  https://www.pledgeme.co.nz/projects/2808-live-train-fight-like-thai-book-project .

For photographers this is also reminder that if they care enough, they have the skills, and therefore the potential, to fulfil personal essays with lasting  historical value, outside of their commercial work, as Leon has done. And it is also a reminder that it has never been easier to buy a good book – and if you splash out, to start your own photo collection in the process.

John B Turner, Beijing

‘To Save a Forest…’ award winning New Zealand exhibition in China

John B Turner, Director of Turner PhotoBooks, Auckland/Beijing is delighted to announce that among the artists they now represent in China, two gained top awards at the 2014 Pingyao International Photography Festival, 19-25 September, held in Shanxi Province.

Martin Hill (born London 1946), who along with Ian Macdonald and Craig Potton, were featured in the exhibition ‘To Save a Forest… Photographs by leading New Zealand conservationists: Martin Hill, Ian Macdonald and Craig Potton’ curated by John B Turner, gained an ‘Excellence Award’ in the outstanding foreign photographers category. And Wang Qing (born Jiangsu Province, China, 1975), a Chinese documentary photographer, won a significant monetary prize at Pingyao for her ‘Rituals of Life’ essay on Turpan’s Muslim community, which recently won international attention through a New York Times feature re-titled ‘ In Restive Remote China, Uighurs’ Piety and Peace’.

“We are so pleased with the response to our work,” Martin Hill and his artistic partner Philippa Jones said after the award, “and we noticed that the judges found it extraordinary.”

“Most of the concerned photographers are showing in their work the ecological predicaments in our modern world,” Martin Hill noted. “However, in our work we are trying to portray solutions to, for example, the issue of climate change. We are very pleased and proud to have received this award.”

Martin and Philippa noted how well the festival was run with the help of Ms Amy Liu’s volunteers who provided invaluable help and translations day and night, and allowed them to share their ideas with Chinese photographers, curators and editors concerned with the urgent ecological issues they address in their work.

A three-hour seminar by the three New Zealand photographers was attended by over 70 people, mainly in the younger age group, and many also expressed their hope of visiting and studying in New Zealand.

In addition to meeting outstanding Chinese photographers such as Lu Guang, they expressed their delight at meeting so many other foreign visitors from Germany, England, Australia, North America and elsewhere.

In December, Martin and Phillipa will visit Antarctica to complete their Fine Line project begun in 1995, consisting of 12 ephemeral sculptures made on high points connected by a line encircling the earth.

About Martin Hill:

Martin HIll

 

Martin Hill  (New Zealand), winner of Excellent Foreign Photographer Award, 2014 Pingyao International Photography Festival.

Martin Hill born 1946 London, UK, educated at High Wycombe University of art and design. Worked as a designer in London, Nairobi, Sydney and Auckland, New Zealand, founding a design company and winning several national and international awards. In 1992 began making environmental sculpture works. The photographs of these ephemeral sculptures made in collaboration with his partner Philippa Jones published and exhibited internationally. A book of his photography titled Earth to Earth published 2007 carried writing from leaders in sustainable practice. A film of Hill’s art practice made in 2010 titled A Delicate Canvas. Watershed exhibition examining the water cycle and climate change exhibited at McClelland Sculpture Park+Gallery, Melbourne 2014. Works in progress include the Fine Line Project begun 1995: 12 ephemeral sculptures made on high points connected by a line encircling the earth. Hill and Jones were selected by Antarctica NZ for the Artists to Antarctica Programme for December 2014. http://www.martin-hill.com

Chinese text 1
[Translation courtesy PIP Pingyao catalogue, 2014.]

Diamond Lake Ice Circle © Martin Hill

©Martin Hill: Diamond Lake Ice Circle. Midwinter ice cut from lake. Sculpture diameter 1300mm.2011. Diamond Lake, Wanaka, New Zealand

Martin HIll _ Ice Circle translation

 

Wetland Guardian © Martin Hill

© Martin Hill : Wetland Guardian,from the Watershed Project. Raupo stems. Sculpture height 1500mm. 2013. Boggy Burn, Matukituki Valley, Wanaka, New Zealand
Wetland Guardian  © Martin Hill _caption translation

 

To Save a Forest... Hill_Macdonald_Potton PIP Pingyao 2014 catalogue cover

‘To Save a Forest…. Photographs by leading New Zealand conservationists: Martin Hill, Ian Macdonald and Craig Potton’, curated by John B Turner for the Pingyao International Photography Festival 19 to 25 September 2014.
Visit here for background info on this exhibition.