The FotoFreo 2010 Circuit – Final
The great thing about Fringe Festivals is that they can indicate the immense talent and vision out there that might have in other circumstances been overlooked by curators and decision makers. Fringe Festivals can serve fare which, often, far surpasses those in the main course. Sabine Albers’s Drawing on the Past, showing at the Merenda Gallery in High Street, is one such exhibition.
In this collection of works, Albers features both photographs of and stories and painting by six young Cambodians who were orphaned through the evil machinations Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. The paintings reveal the heart-rending past of these orphans, now adults looking back at the works they drew as children. Their drawings depic happy and sad memories from their past and were created as part of therapy to help them deal with the trauma of genocide. Of particular impact is a drawing of the execution of a woman — the mother of one of the people photographed by Albers – which depicts the victims disembodied head, drawn with care and beauty, hanging from a tree. It’s a simple drawing but the shock of it packs a powerful punch!
Albers’s photographs accompany the simple, but achingly touching and at times confronting drawings. Her black and white photographs give us a glimpse into their world and their experiences. At times poignant, at times mysterious and sometimes tinged with the sinister, the photographs give us insight into the experiences of Cambodian orphans now, and into the lives of the adults who were orphaned by the war. The exhibition includes a multimedia presentation which depicts the lives of orphans in Cambodia, the risks of glue-sniffing and their falling victim to child molesters, álong with the stories of the six Cambodians whose drawings now hang in the gallery wall.
Merenda Fine Art Gallery: 1/78 High Street, Fremantle, Wed – Sat 12pm – 4pm.
Almost next door to the Merenda Gallery is the New Edition Bookshop, showing works by Graham Miller.
Entitled American Photographs, this is an exhibition of photographs taken on a road trip in the South West of the USA — one of the most iconic, and hence most photographs, regions of America. The large prints give us a view of a big country, and Miller’s eye for detail and composition makes a number of salutory nods to the likes of Stephen Shore and Ansel Adams. These are beautiful photographs of people and places that strike us as incredible iconic US. More significantly, they are punctuated by intimate photograps of Miller’s family which gives this exhibition a wonderful sense of the personal.
New Edition Bookshop, 82 High Street, Fremantle, Mon – Sun 8.30am – 9.30pm.
Over on the Capuccino Strip (South Terrace), Perth photographer April Ward shows her works upstairs in the Sail and Anchor. Ward’s exhibition, Public Places Private Lives, purports to be a study of the the tendency of people living their private lives in public. In a generation of Facebook addicts and YouTube video producers, the line between private and public has become terrifically blurred. Ward’s photographs depict instances of the private transgressing unselfconsciously into the public – obscene graffiti, human parts visible through clear glass or open windows, personal advertisements plastered over trees. These images make the point. For me, however, the highlight of this exhibition is a series of images, supposedly portraits of a 1950s style housewife named “Dorothy” whose very domestic life is lived in public spaces. These staged photographs are warm, funny, inviting and they elicit a bit of a chuckle and a laugh here and there.
Sail and Anchor Pub Brewery (Upstairs Bar), 64 South Terrace, Fremantle, Thu – Sun 12pm til late
My little junket in Freo ends at the Gypsy Tapas Bar on the East End of Fremantle. The Gypsy Tapas Bar is a great place for a cold sangria and tasty vittles, and during FotoFreo, it plays host to two exhibitions by Freo locals: Alma Sarhan and Alastair MacNaughton.
Sarhan’s The Many Faces of Bellydance is a celebration of the verve and vibrancy of bellydancing in its many incarnations. Her photographs show that bellydancing is not just limited to curvaceous, exotic women who shimmer and shiver to enervating oriental tunes. The bellydancers in Sarhan’s photographs are young and old, male and female, voluptuous and toned.
McNaughton’s exhibition, From Rabari to Roma, juxtaposes photographs of the Rabari tribesmen from India with the Roma gypsies of Romania. The focus here is on detail and exoticism – in the intricacies of Rabari and Roma adornments and in the glowing eyes of their children. There is a pair of portraits that grabbed my attention immediately: a pair of Rabari tribesmen in traditional robes and head covering, placed next to a photograph of two bold Roma gypsies, in contemporary urban clothing.
With only a weekend of FotoFreo to go, make sure you make the effort to catch these and other shows. Make a day of it in Freo and follow up your exhibition visits with a glass of cold sangria, a gelato, a cup of coffee, or a pint at a Freo pub!