The FotoFreo 2010 Circuit

The FotoFreo 2010 Circuit

It’s been quite an incredible (and exhausting) fortnight of FotoFreo. I feel as if I’ve been caught up in a rapidly whirling carousel of exhibitions, floor talks, workshops, projections and great parties — and whilst it has meant quite a few late nights, it’s been a fantastic roller coaster ride.

Some have asked me what the highlights of the Festival are. Admittedly, I’ve only visited a proportion of the core and Fringe exhibitions, but so much of what I’ve seen has been incredibly evocative and moving.

Top of my list is David Dare Parker’s exhibition “The Clubs” at the Fremantle Club. This is an exhibition of the Fremantle Clubs in “The Clubs” by one of the great names of photojournalism in the 21st century. David Dare Parker may prefer to head to Afghanistan, but his sensitive depictions of the people and events of a rapidly vanishing Freo institution is very poignant.

Next is the wonderful mix of powerful and whimsical images on show at the Fremantle Maritime Museum. In “The Summer of Us”, Narelle Autio turns the detritus washed up on the beach into intimate views into snippets of lives. From discarded underpants to deceased wildlife washed up after storms, Autio’s beautiful images turn objects into intimate portraits of coastal living. In contrast to Autio’s whimsical works, the selected photographs by Carrie Levy, coupled with a projection of her works produced while her father was in prison, provide a sobering journey through the psyche of loss, regret, redemption and release. Carrie’s constructed portraits have the air of real emotion about them. Finally at the museum are the unreal and surreal works of grand dame Pat Brassington; images that tantalise and titillate by their very ambiguity.

The Moores Building offers works by a range of photojournalists whose images grip the heart and mind. Starting with Jean Chung’s “Tears in the Congo” and continuing with Claire Martin’s “Slab City” and Viviane Dalles “A Journey of Exile”, we are taken to three very different realms. Chung’s photographs show us the endurance of women in the Democratic Republic of Congo whose lives have been disrupted and devastated by the sexual violence visited upon them by the cruel powerplay of a region in unrest. Dalles documents the experiences of a family of Bhutanese exiles, from their lives in the refugee camp in Nepal to their new home in Dallas. Martin’s powerfully evocative landscapes and portraits of Slab City, a fringe community on the edge of the Colorado Desert, show us a world that is at once familiar and yet disconcertingly alien.

Downstairs in the Moores Buidling is the sprawling exhibition “Growing Pains: Timor Leste 10 years on”. Curated by Julian Tennant, this is an exhibition of photo documentary works by Timorese and Australian photographers – from Dean Sewell and Matthew Sleeth to Zesopol Carlito Caminha and Dino (Bernadino) Soares – offering views of the Timorese society 10 years after her protracted and bloody independence from Indonesia.

In Perth, the WA Museum hosts shortlists and winners from the 2009 Nikon-Walkley Awards and World Press Awards. Again, powerful images remind us of the suffering that humanity is capable of meting out to humanity, and the tragic after effects of natural disasters. At the Central Gallery at Central TAFE is an exhibition of war photographs by photographers of Degrees South — again, immensely gut-wrenching images from conflicts across the globe.

Back in Fremantle, Artsource on Phillimore Street exhibits works by photographers participating in the FotoFreo Fringe Festival. Of note is “Show us ya tits” by Queensland photographer, Gemma Rose Turnbull. At times titillating (pardon the pun), funny and touching, this is a very cohesive and mature exhibition of works that explore the cultural significance of breasts in our society.

More to come as I explore this wonderful and massive festival of photography right at my doorstep…

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