Tag Archives: Sydney

Photography in Australia, 2015

Photography enthusiasts will be happy to learn that a new exhibition, The Photograph and Australia, will be on from March 21- June 8, 2015, at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. The exhibition will feature the great works of Australian modernist photographers Max Dupain and Olive Cotton, among many others who have had a huge influence on shaping historical images of Australia. Here is the description:

Photography has been crucial in the development of our understanding of Australia as a place and Australians as a people. Tracing the evolution of the medium and its many uses from the 1840s until today, The photograph and Australia investigates the role that photography has played in shaping our view of the world, ourselves and each other. Sourced from more than 35 private and public collections across Australia, New Zealand and England, the exhibition features works by renowned artists, as well as images by unknown photographers and everyday material such as family albums and postcards. Weaving together the multiple threads of Australia’s photographic history, it proposes a new way of thinking about the connections between photography, place and identity. Artists include Morton Allport, Richard Daintree, Paul Foelsche, Samuel Sweet, JJ Dwyer, Charles Bayliss, Frank Hurley, Harold Cazneaux, Olive Cotton, Max Dupain, Sue Ford, Carol Jerrems, Tracey Moffatt, Simryn Gill, Robyn Stacey, Ricky Maynard, Anne Ferran and Patrick Pound, among many others.

Australian photography began in the 1840s and experienced a boom in the mid-20th century. The Australian Centre for Photography was established in 1973 in Sydney’s vibrant Oxford Street, Paddington, becoming a cornerstone of Sydney’s creative scene, but will this year be moved to a new location, purportedly due to Oxford Street’s lack of accessibility.  Moving it to a more central location has been welcomed by many as a way to expand its audience, while others see it as another blow for the creative but increasingly gentrified Oxford Street. Rebecca Allen at Concrete Playground said in 2014: “It wasn’t long ago that Paddington’s main strip was a definitive hub for local creatives — a melting pot of independent galleries, eclectic boutiques and the big names in Australian fashion. The mass exodus, however, of retail and restaurants in recent years has left the area comparatively lifeless.”

Local photography lovers, however, will still be able to catch a wide range of intriguing exhibitions, including Ireneusz Luty’s City de Noir (see below), which “explores the ordinary moments as absorbed by the intensity of everyday city life, encapsulating the fleeting experience and focuses on the beauty in the mundane. Sydney is re-imagined and re-presented to the viewer in a dark, mysterious and illusory way.” The exhibition will be on from May 11 – June 7, 2015, at the ACP (location to be confirmed). Click here to see the list of future ACP exhibitions. Ticket prices for The Photograph and Australia are available here.



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Australian media on the Sydney siege

As Sydney’s siege at Martin Place enters its twelfth hour, Sydney attempts to keep calm and remember that the gunmen do not represent the values of the wider Muslim community. The Daily Telegraph, however, rushed ahead and published this abomination at part of their special 2pm edition:

Sydney's Daily Telegraph published a special 2pm edition with a cover wrap

Labelling it a ‘Death Cult’, The Daily Telegraph has proved once again that it privileges speed over quality journalism. Meanwhile, the Muslim community has voiced its condemnation of the events as racist slurs circulate on social media such as Twitter and Facebook. But it isn’t only racism that is being fuelled by the siege. Australian Retailers Association chief executive Russell Zimmerman incredulously expressed concern about how the siege would affect spending so close to Christmas. As news of the Australian dollar dropping, Zimmerman stated: “I don’t want to be prophet of doom and gloom but you do worry about how this could affect spending. For Sydney city retailers it’s going to be a huge drain on cash flow and a huge issue for them. In the short term people will question whether they go into the city to do their shopping.” And, in a shameless act of self-promotion, Sydney’s Thr1ve, whose MLC store was shut down per police requests, went to Instagram, stating “our thoughts & prayers are with those caught in the drama of Sydney today”, before touting their Wetsfield store, posting that they: “can still serve you up a delicious lunch at our @westfieldsyd store! #staysafesydney #nutritiontoTHR1VE.” As well as this, Taxi and private hire car app Uber increased the price of a cab out of the city to a whopping $100 minimum, before making it free after a huge online backlash. As the world watches coverage of the siege, others are watching the media…with disgust.

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Identity, Crime and Philosophy: Sydney Writers’ Festival 2014

It’s that time of year again, as Sydney puts on its annual Writers’ Festival, with highlights this year including David Malouf and Alice Walker, among hundreds of sessions variously dedicated to writing that addresses and challenges concepts of identity, history and culture.  Among the many offerings is the City of Shadows Revisited session, featuring Australian writer Peter Doyle discussing his hugely popular exhibition with photographer Pedro de Almeida and curator Nerida Campbell. Other intriguing sessions include The Real Sydney, a session focusing on Sydney’s inner-city including Parramatta and King’s Cross; Culture Wars, presented by the Griffith Review and focusing on the notion of culture in a political context; The Politics of Translation, which looks at the curious developments in author-translator relationships, and a gamut of others, many of which are free and require no bookings. This year’s festival also takes a look at the notion of ‘literary friendships’, and features The Curiosity Lecture Series on the Bloomberg Stage, with philosophical sessions such as On Epicurus and On Love on offer, as well as the session On Oulipo, which looks at the 1960s Parisian Literary Group, Oulipo (Ouvroir de littérature potentielle, which roughly translates as “workshop of potential literature”), who attempted to bridge literature and mathematics to form a drastic new way of writing. Its founding members included Raymond Queneau and Italo Calvino, as well as Jacques Roubaud, who will appear at this year’s festival. For those more accustomed to the visual culture of television and film, one of the festival’s highlights this year is Breaking Bad Creator Vince Gilligan, who will speak to Adam Spencer about his popular show, offering a behind-the-scenes look at how to program was conceived and filmed. The festival also provides more philosophy, with the session Hang Up Philosophy aiming to discuss philosophy’s place in contemporary society. The festival will also focus on emerging Australian writers, including the SMH Best Young Australian Novelists session, and will celebrate the UTS Anthology Launch from the creative writing program at the University of Technology, Sydney. The festival will take place from the 19th-25th of May.

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Nights of Noir: New Launch and Exhibition

Coinciding with the launch of Matthew Asprey’s ‘Noir’ edition of Contrappasso Magazine on November 27 at Newtown’s ‘Midnight Special’ bar, crime writer and researcher Peter Doyle will be launching his new exhibition, Suburban Noir, on November 30. The exhibition explores the “darker side of 1950s and 60s Sydney”. The launch will feature Peter Doyle discussing his research and latest work, and will take place at 11:30am-12:30pm on Saturday, November 30 at the Museum of Sydney. Below is a description of the exhibition:

Postwar Sydney wasn’t only about shiny cars, motor mowers and happy families. Suburban Noir explores the raw, half-built Sydney of the 1950s and early 60s through recently uncovered crime-scene images from the NSW Police Forensic Photography Archive, as well as contemporary artworks. The exhibition breaks with the tradition of presenting Sydney as a visual splendour, finding instead a more reserved city. The police photographs capture the spaces left behind: a moody catalogue of vacant lots, empty roads, desolate interiors and everyday fragments of life in these hard-bitten slices of Sydney. Look at these images long enough and everything starts to look like a crime scene.

Guest curator Peter Doyle invited a group of visual artists to loan existing works or create new works in response to the forensic photographs. They have responded with diverse visual sensitivities and understanding, finding drama and tragedy but also surprising stateliness and dramatic beauty. The artists are Vanessa Berry, Dallas Bray, Rhett Brewer, Charles Cooper, Theresa Darmody, Di Holdsworth, Bruce Latimer, Michael Lewy, Frank Littler, Reg Mombassa, Peter O’Doherty, Ken Searle, Susannah Thorne and Anne Wallace.

Matthew Asprey’s fourth, double issue of Contrappasso is now available on Amazon.com, or else purchase copies at the launch, held at The Midnight Special, Newtown, November 27, from 6pm. See their website for more details.

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City of Shadows (Exhibition)

Starting tomorrow, June 29, the Sydney Living Museums is re-opening the City of Shadows Exhibition, a terrifically dark look at Sydney crime and razor gangs during the 1920s, 30s and 40s. The stunningly gruesome and gritty police forensic photography will be on show at Sydney’s Police and Justice Museum. The exhibition comes from the work of Sydney writer and academic, Peter Doyle (pictured below), whose work City of Shadows: Sydney Police Photographs, 1912-1948 (2005) and Crooks like Us (2009) has inspired the exhibition, and who works as a part-time curator of the museum. While not immediately associated with crime, the city of Sydney has a shady past of colourful crooks and gangsters. Also to feature in 2013 is the much-anticipated Suburban Noir exhibition, also curated and organised by Doyle, which is to feature artistic interpretations -paintings, photographs- of police forensic photography collected and archived by Doyle.

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National Bookshop Day: Celebrating books and the bookshop

An academic at my university, Dr Sherman Young, wrote an intriguing book in 2008 called: The book is dead: long live the book (2007). Despite the irony of the work (it’s published as a book), Young offers compelling arguments about the state of the book, claiming, rather audaciously, that the book died sometime in the twentieth century, and that what we call books today are nothing more than ‘anti-books; cynical marketing driven printed objects designed to capitalise on whatever the spin doctors declare is hot.’ Another academic, meanwhile, namely Dr Ian Collinson, one of my honours supervisors at Macquarie, also recently published a book called Everyday Readers (2009) in which he argues for the current state of books as undeniably changed but inevitably significant, and that the most recent deaths of the book is just one of the many that have occurred since the fifteenth century. He writes, ‘Although pessimistic and commentators may shout that the book is over, as they have since the fifteenth century, millions of readers worldwide are no listening to them.’ Prof John Potts, also at Macquarie, wrote an interesting essay called the Book Doomsday: The March of Progress and the Fate of the Book (2010), in which he, similarly to Collinson, argues against the death of the book. While Young’s work is interesting, and his insights into contemporary book publishing acute, he ignores the persistence of classic book reading practices and the cult following of the bookstore- that tangible place that sells tangible works. And, next Saturday, August 11, Australia celebrates National Book Shop Day, to praise the physicality of the book shop. Stores such as Gleebooks and Sappho Books in Glebe, Abbey’s on York Street, and Kinokuniya in The Galleries building on George Street will be holding special events and having discounts and readings to commemorate the day.

On a recent trip to Paris, I had the pleasure of browsing through some great second hand bookstores, including The Red Wheelbarrow, San Francisco Books, Berkeley Books of Paris, La Flâneur des deux Rives, and, of course, Shakespeare and Co., which is chock full of copies of Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. And while Sydney’s passion for intellectual endeavours is perhaps bleak compared to the rest of the world, there are still great bookshops to be seen and prowl around in. Another blogger wrote up her own list of Sydney’s greatest bookshops, which includes Gould’s Book Arcade in Newtown and Alice and Gertrude in Bondi. The rest of the list can be seen here: http://sydney.concreteplayground.com.au/news/18569/the-ten-best-bookstores-in-sydney.htm.

In Melbourne, on the other hand, my favourite bookstores include Kay Craddock Antiquarian Books, Kill City Crime Books, Basilisk Bookshop (Fitzroy), and Flinders Books, though there are many more great stores, including Paradise Books in Daylesford (outside Melbourne), Readings Carlton and The Paperback Bookshop, among many others.

Gould’s Book Arcade, Newtown

In a recent yet-to-be-published interview with Gould’s book arcade owner Natalie Gould, the avid book lover talks passionately about how people, children in particular, need to be taught the importance of books. She says: ‘We need to inculcate the love. So you need to have a place where you can do that.’

Owning both an e-reader (a gift from one of my brothers), and fifty-million books (a gross exaggeration), I admit I was hesitant to commit to this new technological artefact, having resisted, without much temptation, Facebook, Twitter and i-phones. Sherman Young discusses the advantages of this new-fangled technology of the e-reader, listing its obvious superiorities to the book; it frees storage space, and it won’t become wrecked if left it the rain or one spills coffee over it. The e-reader, in whatever form, has many great features, enabling its user to upload millions of books without needing to lift much but this thin black pad. On the other hand, having recently downloaded a predominantly unknown work by Bret Easton Ellis, a writer whom myself and my other supervisor are fans of, I realised I would not be able to lend him the work, as I have many of my other books. At times he has lent me over ten books at a time, and from memory he still has my copy of Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice, which I lent to him about two years ago. In fact my copy of Collinson’s Everyday Readers was given to me by the author himself, and I still have several of his works (and he some of my books). Thus the great flaw in e-readers despite their many obvious features is the inability to share e-books. You cannot lend one of the books in your e-library to someone without giving up your whole library. Of course, you could tell someone about a great book you downloaded, though they’d have to go ahead and download it themselves, rather than just taking a book you are not currently reading but have recommended, and reading it at their own leisure. Thinking hypothetically, in the book’s stead, if we only had e-readers, that collective book reading experience, either speaking to others in shops (which I admittedly don’t do since I usually want to be left alone while perusing the shelves), or sharing and lending books we’ve loved, would be impossible, since there would be no tangible object to lend nor a tangible place to wander, defeating the kind gesture of lending and sharing and the experience of wandering.

So while Sherman’s ironic work is interesting and has some insightful ideas on the current state of publishing and pragmatic storage options, I side with Collinson and Potts on the books’ perseverance and physical significance in shaping and producing important reading experiences. It was recently said that the main purpose of the e-reader was to download those works which you were too embarrassed to read on trains or anywhere else in public (Fifty Shades of Grey, Harry Potter, and any other commercial sub-par work). In another article it was claimed that sales for the Kama Sutra rose with the advent of the e-reader. Thinking practically, this would not be to everyone’s advantage if, mid-coital, your e-reader’s battery failed. So there are certainly pros and cons on both sides, though while I’ll refrain from kindling my Kindle, I’ll choose real books each time.

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