Witness change in motion as the Perth Centre for Photography (PCP) and Rotterdam Photo presents Transitions – a collaborative international group exhibition featuring work from the Rotterdam Photo Festival, First Nations artists from the Exposure Collective and Perth artist May Bluebell.
Transition through concepts of the 21st century, where regression and progression come to a head. Transition through the resilience of First Nations Australians, who counter historical misrepresentation and reclaim narrative through photographic practice. Transition through notions of time and geographical significance with an exploration of space, place and memory.
Rotterdam Photo is an annual photo festival that takes place during Art Rotterdam Week, where art lovers have the opportunity to visit numerous art and design events. Located at De-liplein in the Katendrecht district, the event celebrates the wide spectrum of photography as it presents itself in our contemporary image culture.
Rotterdam Photo’s theme of the year for 2020 was TRANSITIONS. The world has reached a historical turning point: see the rise of populism, Brexit, the Trump era and all the (humanitarian) crises that have emerged from that.
The near future is uncertain. These crises, or better: transitions, will form the red line of Rotterdam Photo in 2020. Transitions as processes or periods of change from one condition to the next, call out to reflect. In our society, we see transitions of all sorts, gender transitions to energy transitions.
These transitions aren’t separate phenomenons but are in fact inextricably linked and interwoven. However, as Professor of Sustainability Jan Rotmans brings: we don’t live in a time of transitions but in an era of transition. The world seems to be changing more and more into a comprehensive system in which everything depends on everything else.
Three Rotterdam based photographers (Otto Snoek, Perrine Philomeen and Luuk Smits) were invited to apply with work relating to the concept of transition. Rotterdam Photo’s goal is to show a diverse selection of visual storytellers from all over the world that deal with multidisciplinary methods to signify the complexity of the present times and the medium of photography.
Reclaimed highlights the ubiquitous nature of photography and the continued significance of self-representation amongst First Nations artists in Australia. The exhibition features contemporary portraiture presented alongside inherited cultural narratives by artists from the Exposure Collective, which is comprised of First Nations Artists from remote communities across Western Australia.
The exhibition offers a counter-voice to the historical misrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, a practice continued today by the mainstream media. Together, these works speak to hope, autonomy, resilience and cultural inheritance, challenging the narrative that has been shared with the world about Indigenous Australia historically and in the here and now.
Exposure 2.0 Collective Members: Clayton Cherel, Justina Clement, Maria Fredricks, Shirley Nuria Jadai, Maria Maraltadj, Wendy Nanji, Kristabell Porter, Tegan Riley, Ignatius Taylor, Cecilia Umbagai, Corbin Williams.
The Exposure Collective emerged from the First Nations photographic mentoring program ‘New Voices in Western Australian Photography’ which was facilitated by Perth Centre for Photography in partnership with independent curator and artist Glenn Iseger-Pilkington in 2018 and 2019.
The workshops provided critical mentoring for Aboriginal artists and arts workers from across remote Western Australia, many of whom work in remote art centres. In bringing artists together with other professionals working in photographic, filmic and curatorial practices, the workshops encouraged participants to find new ways to share stories while also providing important opportunities to develop new skills and approaches to photography.
May Bluebell’s work reference’s the natural world and geology, drawing on childhood memories of growing up in the Pilbara region of W.A. Ancient landscapes contrasted by European settlements. Wildflowers scattered across the blazing horizon. Deep reds and a sense of endlessness. Vibrant colors create an almost rhythmic sense of shimmering heat and desert mirages.
Her choice of color, form and texture is at times nostalgic and playful, as are her collages of faded photos from the family archive. She draws on a sense of connection to a place in time. Her surreal desertscapes reveal an otherworldly existence.
Familiar suburban spaces are rendered uncanny, their manicured lawns a sign of placelessness. Ghost towns blowing back into the earth feature as a symbol of structures and ideas which do not stand the test of time.
Perth Centre For Photography, 357 – 365 Murray Street, Perth
Exhibition continues to 27 November 2021
For more information, visit: www.pcp.org.au for details.
Image: Otto Snoek, Nation (detail), 2019. © Inkjet print