Shows from Melbourne’s PHOTO2022

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The particular Huxleys at Photo 2022 © J Forsyth

As we approach the particular closing weekend of PHOTO 2022 , Asia-Pacific Photobook Archive’s Isabella Capezio shares her illustrates

Organized around the theme ‘Being Human’, PHOTO 2022 has triggered Melbourne’s galleries and community spaces for the past three weeks. Impressive billboard-sized photographs us dot the urban landscape – from the steps of Parliament House at the north finish of Melbourne’s business region, to the banks of the Birrarung (Yarra River) that meanders through the city centre. Associated with note is Australian-based Ghanian photographer Richmond Kobla Dido’s Men Never Cry, which is mounted onto a building overlooking Collins Street. The photos are exhibited at a site exactly where, 60 years ago, newly appeared migrant Helmut Newton setup his first photographic studio room. Elsewhere, lightboxes of Poulomi Basu’s critical and effective work, Blood Speaks: The Ritual of Exile, sit down near the State Library of Victoria, while Christian Thompsons’ public exhibition of great scale prints and audio installation offers an alternate experience to the daily commuter.

Rachel Main at PHOTO 2022 © James Makin

One particular exhibition that caught my attention was New Professional photographers , a brand new initiative by PHOTO 2022 to feature emerging community photographers from Australia’s leading art colleges. Of be aware was Rachel Main’s work Session Queens, an interactive project that exists both online , and as a physical exhibition and performance. The show brings the energy and vibration of the Australian and New Zealand Krump scene to the fore. The portraits plus isolated hand gestures make an immediate, upfront and intense atmosphere. The trust Major built within these residential areas is revealed through tight cropping and intense pictures. One of the highlights of the festivity was a live performance by the Krump community on opening night.

Another project that was standing out from New Photographers was Jahkarli Romanis, who investigates technological perspectives of property and country through search engines earth renditions of the panorama. As the images fail to fully describe, categorise or explicate an experience, we are reminded of the enmeshment of mapping and the colonial gaze.

The second highlight for me was the Center for Contemporary Photography’s fit of shows – Queering the Frame: Community, Period, Photography, curated by Brendan McLeary. The show features Australian artists Helen Grace, Samuel Hodge, The Huxleys, Brook Andrew, J Davies, and Shannon May Powell. And accompanying this, two smaller solo shows simply by international artists Paul Mpagi Sepuya and Martine Gutierrez.

Paul Mpagi Sepuya at PHOTO 2022 © J Forsyth

These exhibitions crash together in lively, camp and smart brand new forms that champion making, improvisation, performance and the turmoil that often gets overlooked in photography’s tendency towards outdated binary oppositions. Paul Mpagi Sepuya’s work is self-referential, exploratory, playful and sexy. His studio performances unsettle both traditional and contemporary methods of portraiture and self-portraiture. The collaboration, the physical exchanges, and the showing of bodies with devices, displays, reflections, and surfaces show rich layers of closeness and unease. The stress of invitation, care, control and representation are well played out and beautifully designed.  

As we move towards new unique codes that redefine terms such as ‘queer’, the exhibition eminds us that being human being is about being from with other humans, shaped and reflected through and in systems that have come before people and that stand before us. Curator Brendan McCleary questioned photographer Helen Grace to re-examine her archive associated with photographs taken in the 1972s and 1980s that document ‘Amazon Acres’, a female-only commune in Northern Nsw. Grace documents and frames the group and their occurrences with detail and treatment. The work is an essential part of Australian history that scars the women’s movement and reinforces the importance of community and its many forms. In the equivalent exhibition, impressive wall-sized get in touch with sheets by Brook Toby display glimpses of whimsical communities in the 1990s, carrying the audience into the darkroom and reminding us from the importance of the tactile and physical processes of photo taking making.

Elsewhere in the show, collaborative duo The Huxleys perform brilliantly colored tributes to the queer symbols that informed their youth. In conversation with the additional artists on show, these types of works delve into the multigenerational understanding of queerness in Australia. In the middle of this exhibition is perhaps Queer-ING , a procedure that it is always in flux and expanding.  

The PHOTOGRAPH 2022 festival is an devoted model that allows institutions, art galleries, commissioned artists and artist-run spaces the opportunity to advance photography’s position within art and public life. Photography has become a large part of what becoming human is, and with 90 free exhibitions featuring 123 artists thinking through a diverse range of ideas, it becomes evident that being human is usually nuanced, exciting and hard to describe.

PHOTO 202 2’s final weekend become centred around a major photobook market on May 21 st and twenty two nd hosted by Photography Studies College, and showcasing the Kassel Fotobook Award, the Aperture/Paris Picture Photobook Award, the Asia-Pacific Photobook Archive, and the Australian and New Zealand Photobook Awards. The photobook marketplace will feature publishers and book makers from across the world selling their wares, and will run alongside a series of book launches, talks, workshops, and reviews.

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