Saturday, May 03, 2008

Jobi Bieber @ Moore's Building (FotoFreo)

I had intended to sit down and write mini-crits of all the shows I screamed through on Thursday before most of them close this Sunday. I instead thought it more apt to mention only that which shook me in some way.

For a variety of reasons, two shows in particular stood out head and shoulders above many others and one had three magic images that are - and will be for quite a while - burnt into my skull.

Jodi Bieber's images of drug addicts upstairs at the Moore's building is one of the most moving and sublime shows I have seen in many years.

I have often had a very difficult time explaining beauty or the sublime to others and how it can appear in the most distressing subject matter. This show is a case in point... the content is hard and confrontational, yet the resultant images have a majesty and strength that is completely overwhelming.

This is also a show much stronger for the broader captioning as conceptually dealt with at Fig.

The contrast between the graphic black & white images and distressed colour images was very effective in accomplishing two seemingly paradoxical tasks.

The monos broke you out of the trap of falling into the difficult subject matter and allowed you to attain an aesthetic distance (essentially the sublime aspect) whilst the colour images re-contextualised the work. That is, they made the grit more real and had an almost museum-like quality. The simple analogy would be bones from an archaeological dig that told a broader story.

The balance is spot on and I was literally shaking when I left the space.

The Moore's building was a treasure trove in 2006 and was again in 2008. Stephen Dupont's polaroids were also exceptional and are due some text... but other things are on my mind... more later.

Never really got back to the 'more' aspect of this post...

The other shows that really got under my skin were Megan Lewis at Kidogo and Wang Gang at FTI. The later was especially poignant and classical in nature.

Megan Lewis had two stand out images in the show that were truly exceptional. One involved a young child engaging with a grieving father and another had silhouetted figures in a burning landscape.

There has been a bit of a crit on the over saturation of the images but I didn't find that too bothersome. If anything it heightened the idea or sensation of distance from the subject matter whilst being geographically 'so close'.

The more I think about Wang Gang's work, the more lost I become. I didn't really spend enough time in the work but two things are causing me to dwell on it.

One was surface. The prints were on some form of rag paper which gave the frequent, heavy dark tones texture. This bought an awareness of surface and the idea that these were representations (2D planes) of a supposed 3D reality.

Where it got interesting was then the idea of whether the images were posed or not. Given the craftmanship and love in the representation, was that which was represented a construct?

These are obviously questions that are ultimately unnecessary as posed or unposed, they were strong images worthy of validation.

Overall, FotoFreo was a great event with a few bumps. There has been some undue harshness for what is a volunteer-driven festival and I look forward to another fantastic event - bumps and all - in 2010.

I was lucky enough to have some time with Bob Hewitt in the last week and can only hope that some of what was discussed manifests.

It would truly be a significant gear change that can only be good for the Perth (and Australian) visual arts community.

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