many small portraits of Chinese children
Calendar, October 19, Photography, Visual arts

Visual Arts: Children of China

17 – 31 October @ Spectrum Project Space ·
Presented by Tami Xiang and Ai Song ·

Working with the social practice of photography, Xiang examines the issues surrounding the migration of people from rural to urban environments in China. In particular the impact this shift has on the lives of children, who grow up with their grandparents. Re-working children’s self-portraiture, Song the examines the life of children in Chinese Care Centers.

Artist talk: Tami Xiang: Tuesday 22 October at 11am.

More info:

Pictured: Tami Xiang, Left Behind Children, 2019

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Frog like looking creature
Calendar, Photography, September 19, Visual arts

Visual Arts: Wonderful Things Are Passing You By

13 – 24 September @ Kent Street Gallery, Victoria Park Centre for the Arts ·
Presented by Shona McGregor ·

Wonderful Things Are Passing You By is the debut solo show for visual artist,  Shona McGregor. In an increasingly anxious and technologically driven world this exhibition continues her search for a means to reconnect the individual with their physical surroundings and rediscover their sense of wonder and curiosity.

Through the use of macro photography and the manipulation of images she continues to delve into her preoccupation with the overlooked and the exploration of the fascinating things around us that we fail to notice.

Opening night: 13 September 6 – 8pm

More info

Pictured: the artist

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Men hugging in a bath house
News, Photography, Reviews, Visual arts

Unexpected but thought-provoking

Review: Laurence Watts, “Looking West” and Hoda Afshar, “Behold” ·
Perth Centre for Photography ·
Review by Phoebe Mulcahy ·

Though an Iranian bathhouse and regional Australian rodeo culture might be some of the last places you’d expect to see signs of shifting notions of gender and masculinity, both make for an interesting social study, as two new exhibitions at the Perth Centre for Photography reveal. In Laurence Watts’s “Looking West” and Hoda Afshar’s “Behold” we see two worlds that can be defined in large part by their insularity, and respective codes and rituals. Yet the self-contained customs that underpin these communities may not be as impervious as they appear. Taken together, the exhibitions offer a fascinating view of what might be at play behind the bounds of these two vastly different realms.

At first glance, the two exhibitions seem an improbable double-bill, with little in common in tone, subject matter or composition. But delving closer, it becomes clear that the separate collections of works play off each other at a number of levels.

 a cowboy holding a stuffed stag's head
‘Mansfield’ by Laurence Watts.

“Looking West”, Laurence Watts’s exploration of Australian rodeo subculture, is placed in the sunlit front portion of the gallery, heightening the works’ highly performative and forward-facing style. The cowboys square off the camera in their hyper-masculine costumes of Stetsons, chaps and heeled boots, resisting as best they can the pervasive signs of suburban domesticity that surround them. Positioned beside a large pink fitness ball or a neatly-arranged bedside scene however, their claim to the kind of rugged masculinity promised by the archetype of the cowboy is unconvincing.

By contrast, Hoda Afshar’s “Behold”, placed in the back gallery as one enters the space, is dimly lit and subdued, lending a reflective tone to these provocative depictions of same-sex relationships in a Middle Eastern bathhouse. In the same way as the Australian rodeo subculture sits apart from broader society, bathhouses can be seen as refuge-like sites that are distanced from the outside world and maintain implicit rules about who can and can’t attend. Afshar herself states that as a woman, she was “not allowed to enter” and in fact had to rent the premises in order to produce her photographs — a detail that renders the scenes just as staged as Watts’s self-conscious modern cowboys. Nonetheless, the works are touching in their seeming unaffectedness and intimacy, and illustrate their own version of the complexities of masculine identity today.

By pairing these almost absurdly disparate cultures, the exhibitions put forward a composite view of maleness as experienced in societies that are literally worlds apart. It’s a thought-provoking combination that adds nuance to the so-called ”crisis in masculinity” brought on by changing social landscapes.

“Looking West” and “Behold” continue until April 6.

Pictured top: Detail from Hoda Afshar’s ‘Untitled #4’, 120 x 95cm, 1 edition left NFS 75 x 60cm, 5 editions.

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A Dark and Quiet Place
Calendar, Perth Festival, Photography, Visual arts

Visual Arts: A Dark and Quiet Place

7 Feb – 24 Mar @ Fremantle Arts Centre ·
Presented by David Noonan ·

London-based artist David Noonan has made his name internationally as an assembler of black and white photographic images. Collected from found books and periodicals, the images are juxtaposed, edited and collated to conjure a range of possible narratives.

For his first exhibition in Western Australia Noonan has created an immersive installation that invites viewers into an atmospheric ‘dark and quiet place’. Bringing together in dialogue major new works rendered in film and tapestry, this strangely cinematic and poetic world offers a meditative space of wonder and intrigue.
Presented in association with Fremantle Arts Centre

Free Entry

More info:

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Lightbox Alex Spremberg
Calendar, December 18, November 18, October 18, Photography, September 18, Visual arts, Workshops

Visual Arts: The Hub: Storytelling through photomontage

Ongoing until 8 December @ Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery ·
Presented by Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery ·

The Hub is a space at the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery where you can explore your creativity. Art lovers young and old can enjoy hands-on art activities inspired by the gallery’s exhibition program.

Create a photomontage from the materials available to tell your story. Add your artwork to the collection of pictures at The Hub or take it home with you.

Tuesdays – Saturdays. 11am – 5pm till 8 December

More info

Pictured: Alex Spremberg, The Sound of White, Even (detail), 2017-2018, enamel on vinyl records, 215 x 473cm © the artist.

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Stockyards and Saddles
August 18, Calendar, December 18, November 18, October 18, Photography, September 18, Visual arts

Visual Arts: Stockyards and Saddles: A Story of Gibb River Station

21 Jul – 8 Dec @ Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery ·
Presented by Berndt Museum ·

Stockyards and Saddles: A Story of Gibb River Station explores the lives of those living and working on the remote cattle station of Gibb River in the East Kimberley region from the early 1900s until the 1990s.

The importance of photographs as historical memorabilia often goes beyond the people represented in the images to depict a period of time in our country’s history. Given many of the original cattlemen are no longer with us and the old stories of stockyards and saddles now seem such a distant memory, the Berndt Museum celebrates life in cattle country for those few who remain.

More info:

Image: Reggie riding a buck-jumper, breaking in the horses. (detail) 3 Reproduction of a colour photo © Colin Russ

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Linda Persson Light - Language
August 18, Calendar, December 18, Film, Installation, January 19, November 18, October 18, Photography, Sculpture, September 18, Visual arts

Visual Arts: spaced 3: north by southeast

18 August 2018 – 7 January 2019 @ The Art Gallery of Western Australia ·
Presented by: International Art Space, various artists ·

Organised by the WA-based International Art Space, spaced 3: north by southeast brings together 11 artists from Australia and the Nordic region.

Artistic explorers of a different kind are celebrated in spaced 3: north by southeast. Six Australian artists completed artistic residencies in the Nordic heartlands of Finland, Iceland, Denmark and Sweden and five Nordic artists find their place in Western Australia’s rural and remote communities. Using sculpture, video, photography and installation, this show is an enlightening series of windows onto the world we know, and the world we have yet to understand.

The decision to place artists in regional and remote locations is motivated by the fact that even small and seemingly isolated towns are affected by global economic, environmental and social forces. The interplay between the strong sense of local identity, which is typical of these communities, and the effects of globalisation provides a fertile ground for artists to explore.

Participating Artists:
Robyn Backen (NSW), Michelle Eistrup (Denmark), Gustav Hellberg (Sweden), Deborah Kelly (NSW), Danius Kesminas (VIC), Tor Lindstrand (Sweden), Heidi Lunabba (Finland), Dan McCabe (WA), Linda Persson (Sweden), Keg de Souza (NSW), Sam Smith (NSW).

More info:


Linda Persson Light&Language event 2017. Photographer: Roderick Sprigg.

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Richard Woldendorp AM, St Georges Terrace, Perth WA, 1964. Courtesy of the artist.
Calendar, July 18, June 18, Photography, Visual arts

Visual arts: Exhibition: Woldendorp: A Black and White Retrospective

1 June – 15 July: Exhibition Opening Friday 1 June, 7pm, Viewing Times 2 June – 15 July 2018, Tue-Fri 10am-5pm, Sat-Sun 11am-3pm @ Mundaring Arts Centre ·
Presented by Mundaring Arts Centre ·

Pioneering aerial photographer and WA State Living Treasure, Richard Woldendorp AM, exhibits a selection of rarely seen, early black and white images which launched his long and successful career photographing the Australian landscape.

Supported by the Department of Local Government, Sport and Creative Industries, WA.

More info:

Image: Richard Woldendorp AM, St Georges Terrace, Perth WA, 1964. Courtesy of the artist.

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Lisa Reihana Emissaries
Film, Mixed media, News, Photography, Reviews, Sculpture, Visual arts

A rich and tender alternative

Perth Festival review: “Emissaries” by Lisa Reihana ·
John Curtin Gallery ·
Review by Miranda Johnson ·

Lisa Reihana’s “Emissaries” takes as its starting point a tapestry made in 1805, Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique. At the time, the popular tapestry provided an escapist-style insight into the lives and cultures of the First Nations peoples of the Pacific – told, of course, through the eyes of the white colonialists.

Reihana, who is of Māori and British descent, seeks to redress this one-sided depiction by reimagining vignettes of early contact between the First Nations peoples of the Pacific and European explorers. I had already seen this work at the Venice Biennale, so I was surprised to discover that the show has expanded, the more spacious and modern venue giving it room to breathe. The sleek rooms of John Curtin Gallery provide a series of antechambers, and, walking deeper into the show toward the rumbling, creaking soundtrack of Reihana’s epic video work In Pursuit of Venus [infected], I felt that I was entering the hull of a ship.

As an entrance, the first room shows portraits of certain ‘emissaries’, including Joseph Banks, astronomer and explorer, and the Chief Mourner of the Society Islands, a mysterious figure who can move between worlds. It is clear that these emissaries aren’t just from another time, but another place – otherworldly shadows. Reihana’s digital photography gives the figures a contemporary feel, whilst their garb and formal attitudes hearken back to Enlightenment portraiture. These are augmented by historical material from the Kerry Stokes Collection, a series of original eighteenth and nineteenth century works on paper depicting Captain Cook’s first voyage to the South Pacific. History and fiction are combined to create a more complex narrative of colonialism, discovery, and myth-making.

This first two rooms provide an elegant introduction to the cinematic video work In Pursuit of Venus [infected]. You can hear it echoing through the gallery, but you can’t see it until you face the single shadowy portrait of a Nootka ancestor and totem and enter the final room.

Here, the suggestions of Enlightenment values, colonial histories and reclaimed narratives become strikingly clear. The panoramic video uses modern imaging technology to digitally animate moments of Pacific life at the time of the original tapestry’s inception. It’s hypnotising and incredibly rich in detail.

Many of the stories show people simply living their culture: dancing, sparring, and singing. There are moments of humour (a grown man pretends to labour and joyfully birth another grown man) and, frequently, moments of confusion, violence, and awkwardness that come with groups of people with no common language or culture meeting for the first time. Sometimes they interact by exchanging tokens and gestures of friendliness. Sometimes the Europeans are shown to be painting the Pacific Islanders, presumably to bring home the taxonomic images we’ve just seen in the previous room. And sometimes it ends in unspeakable violence – lashings, murder, a disembodied limb.

As the soundtrack grows louder, the vignettes reach a breaking point – with weeping and agonised screams, and waves are breaking loudly nearby. But everything keeps on moving. Even the satisfying moment of Captain Cook’s murder by a Hawai’ian doesn’t stop the slow march of history. The moment of the fatal blow reverberates for just a minute – the people recoil and sit in stunned silence – before the moment rolls by.

“Emissaries” is a richly woven tapestry of its own, retelling historical narratives with inventiveness and tenderness. It’s a comment on what we think of as history, how we come to accept narratives, and who gets to tell these stories. Just as the narrative of In Pursuit of Venus [infected] cycles through its story without a clear beginning or end, Reihana’s work is never-ending.  Time is not linear, and history is always repeating itself – the implications of colonialism are always continuing in both new and old forms. Reihana’s work seeks to redress an imbalance, and to correct the record. It is, of course, partly fictionalised, but then, who is to say the accepted narratives we already think we know are real?

Emissaries runs at John Curtin Gallery until April 29.

Top: Lisa Reihana, detail in Pursuit of Venus [infected], 2015–17, Ultra HD video, colour, sound, 64 min. Image courtesy of the artist and New Zealand at Venice.

Miranda Johnson is an arts worker from Perth. She spent the past few years in London working as a record store clerk whilst studying an MA in Contemporary Art Theory at Goldsmiths College. Upon returning to Perth, she has been working for some of Perth’s major contemporary arts institutions, as well as co-directing Moana Project Space, an artist-run initiative. Miranda also sings in indie-pop choir Menagerie and co-hosts Fem Book Club at the Centre for Stories.

For the duration of Perth Festival, Miranda is part of its customer service team.

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Calendar, Dance, February 18, Installation, Performing arts, Photography, Visual arts

Fringe World: The Honeymoon Suite

1-4 February @ 7pm, 5 February @ 6pm @ Paper Mountain Gallery ∙
Presented by: Bernadette Lewis ∙

A multidisciplinary performance installation. An intimate dialogue between light, photography, found object and dance. Drive on down to the strange lands of vintage women’s wrestling, age-old pageant queens, exercise fads and treat yourself to our neon, time travelling dreamscape.

Welcome to The Honeymoon Suite. Enjoy your stay. Don’t feed the birds. And let’s get ready to rumble!

More info:

Image: The Honeymoon Suite by Emma Fishwick

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