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Archive for January 2014

BOX of BOOKS Event – Toowoomba!

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Looking at the books – Cobb+Co Museum, Toowoomba

Looking at the books – Cobb+Co Museum, Toowoomba

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Around 35 photobook enthusiasts gathered at the Cobb+Co Museum on January 27 to view the Photobook Club’s Box of Books and talk about photobooks. The event brought together local photo identities John Elliott, Graham Burstow, David Seeto and Victoria Cooper. Eric Victor, Ian Poole and Qld College of Art Masters student Maureen Trainor came from the Brisbane side of the Range. The meeting took place in the gallery space of the ICON on ICONS photographic exhibition that also concluded on that day.

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Convener of the event Doug Spowart opens the Box of Books

Convener of the event Doug Spowart opens the Box of Books

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The seven books were viewed and discussed at length. Comments about the books included the following:

“Each book is a very personal communiqué”

“The books demand viewing at many different levels – the narrative, the design, the production, the conceptual nature of the work…”

“This is a very Eurocentric view – I wonder what the American view would look like?”

“How do these books compare with the Australian photobook scene?”

A great deal of discussion took place over the comment – “Where are the captions … the works that help me to understand what the photographer is trying to say?” One respondent commented on Roland Barthes’ concept of ‘The death of the author and the birth of the reader’ – meaning that the reader needs to connect with the images and draw on their own life experiences.

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Donald Webber’s Interrogations drew quite a few comments – tension and the power of the portraits made in such a circumstance.

Linda Seeto, Victoria Cooper, Hardy and Alison Ahlhaus looking at Interrogations

Linda Seeto, Victoria Cooper, Hardy and Alison Ahlhaus looking at Webber’s Interrogations

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The crowd favourite was Anne Sophie Merryman’s Mrs. Merryman’s Collection … a superb design, delicate paper, the see-through of texts and the amazingly bizarre collection of post card photographs and comments.

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Merryman

Mrs. Merryman’s Collection

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Paul Graham’s The Present and its gate-fold format presented a viewing challenge as each image or group of images needed to be revealed by folding-out the page – an extended haptic experience, and considering the size of the book, it slowed down the read and brought the busy street scenes to a slowed motion.

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Tony Coonan, Linda and David Seeto look at Paul Graham's book

Tony Coonan, Linda and David Seeto look at Paul Graham’s book

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The Box of Books will be in Brisbane on Monday the 3rd of February and then be off to New Zealand for the next stage in its journey.

Thanks to the Cobb+Co Museum for providing the venue. The Photobook Club and the publishers who donated the books for the opportunity for us to see, touch, and read these books.

Until the next Photobook Club event in our area….

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This Photobook Club BOX OF BOOKS event was coordinated by Doug Spowart and Victoria Cooper of the Centre for Regional Arts Practice.

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Other images from the event…

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Looking at a book…

Ann Alcock and Bev Lacey

Ann Alcock and Bev Lacey

Toula, Ian Poole and Louise

Toula, Ian Poole and Louise

Tony Coonan, Victoria Cooper and Anne Howard

Tony Coonan, Victoria Cooper and Anne Howard

Judi Neuman and Phillipa Hodges

Judi Neuman and Phillipa Hodges

Graham Burstow and Maureen Trainor

Graham Burstow and Maureen Trainor

Looking at some of the ephemera from the Box of Books

Looking at some of the ephemera from the Box of Books

John Elliott and Eric Victor

John Elliott and Eric Victor

Helen Gibbs and Lucy Robertson-Cunninghame (on Right) with Webber's book

Helen Gibbs and Lucy Robertson-Cunninghame

Gerry Saide looking closely at a book

Gerry Saide looking closely at a book

Doug Spowart opens the box

Doug Spowart opens the box

Room view at the Cobb+Co Museum

Room view at the Cobb+Co Museum

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The Cobb+Co Museum panorama

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The Photobook Club's BOX of BOOKS arrives in Toowoomba

The Photobook Club’s BOX of BOOKS in Toowoomba

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A BOOK for AUSTRALIA DAY, January 26, 2014

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It’s Australia Day!! We have a photobook on display in the Two Doors Gallery in 85 George Street the ‘Rocks’, Sydney that is a commentary on Australia Day, that we created on Australia Day in 2010.

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The collaborative book, called Australian Banquet, January 25/26, 1788 (variant #5), is a double-sided broadsheet cyanotype in rice paper, 37.6x77cm. There are 7 unique state variants of this work.

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The Australian Banquet -Two Doors

The Australian Banquet in the window @ Two Doors … Photo: Dawne Fahey

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The artists’ statement for the work is as follows:

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Across Australia on January 26, people consume food in celebration of a free and dynamic Australian culture. This work comments on the ‘turning of the page’ in Australian history that Australia Day represents. One day — January 25th 1788, Indigenous people feasted on a diverse banquet of bush tucker (as they had for thousands of years). The next day —a new paradigm arrived with the table setting of the First Fleet. Australia Day importantly is a time to re-examine the status of the Indigenous perspective and their knowing of land, culture and history and how it underpins all that is celebrated in the diversity and identity of post-colonial Australia.

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How the work is to be viewed/read

1.        At a tabletop setting view and contemplate the 25th of January side of the broadsheet.

January 25,1788

January 25, 1788

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2.        Then, pickup the broadsheet and turn it over as if reading a book – Contemplate.

January 26,1788

January 26, 1788

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3.        Finally hold the broadsheet up to a light thus enabling the interrelationship between the two
images to be considered.   (Image shows variant #4)

January 25+26,1788-combined - Today's view

January 25+26,1788 (combined) –Today’s view

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Drop in to the gallery if you’re in Sydney.

If you happen to be in ‘The Rocks’ on Monday 27th, the public holiday come along to Two Doors and see Picturing the Orchestral Family – and a selection of photographs by Dawne Fahey – and hear the Carreon Family Quartet performance – Tango from 2 – 3. They will also perform February 2nd – same time. Performing daily @ 5.30 pm is flautist Chloe Chung – Two Doors is very lucky to have these young people from Sydney Youth Orchestras helping us celebrate this exhibition !

Have a Great Australia Day…!

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© 2014 Dawne Fahey (gallery image) and ©2012 Doug Spowart+Victoria Cooper.

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THE PHOTOBOOK CLUB: Box of Books Event – Toowoomba!

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The Photobook Club's BOX of BOOKS arrives in Toowoomba

The Photobook Club’s BOX of BOOKS arrives in Toowoomba

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In 2013, and now in 2014, a box of photobooks will be traveling over 30,000 miles, stopping off at each of the Photobook Club branches around the world in order to promote discussion of the physical photobook.

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Now, The Box of Books is in Toowoomba —- Queensland, Australia.

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As part of the LAST DAY of the ICONS on ICONS show at the Cobb+Co Museum in Toowoomba featuring the work of John Elliott, Graham Burstow, David Seeto Victoria Cooper (photobooks) and Doug Spowart – a special viewing of the THE PHOTOBOOK CLUB’s BOX of BOOKS will be made available.  Come and sit with some of the world’s best photobooks and turn the pages – and release the narrative that each book contains.

THE DATE: Between 1 – 3pm, January 27 – The AUSTRALIA DAY Holiday

THE VENUE: The Cobb+Co Museum, 27 Lindsay Street, Toowoomba.

 

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A small charge of $5 is being made to cover postage to the Boxes’ next destination in Auckland New Zealand.

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The book viewing and discussions will take place between 1-3pm. The Museum’s coffee shop is open for lunch as well as drinks and snacks throughout the afternoon until 4pm.

Take a road trip into the country – Visitors to the Cobb+Co Museum from outside the Toowoomba Region will gain FREE admittance if they advise that they are attending this special event.

This Photobook Club BOX OF BOOKS event is coordinated by Doug Spowart and Victoria Cooper of the Centre for Regional Arts Practice.

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Cobb+Co Museum - Icons on Icons events

Cobb+Co Museum – Icons on Icons events

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What’s in the Box?

A big thanks to Mack Books (London), Schilt Publishing (Amsterdam) and also to Filipe Casaca who have all contributed books to this project. If you are a publisher or photographer who would like a book to be included in ‘Box of Books #2′ then please get in touch.  The following books were chosen for the discussions of content, narrative and physical properties that I hope they will encourage  – Matt from the Photobook Club

Another Language
Mårten Lange

(Mack, 2012)

The blurb: Combining images of flora, fauna and natural phenomena in an intimate and beautifully crafted book, Lange teases out a subtle narrative – a meteor crashes, a landmass is visible and a distant planet occupies the final page – but the book is more akin to the workings of a scientist collecting specimens. Together the photographs create a cryptic and heterogeneous index of nature, with recurring shapes, patterns and texture, where the clarity and simplicity of the individual photographs contrasts with the enigmatic whole.

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Blue Mud Swamp
Filipe Casaca
(Self published, 2012)

The blurb: (Filipe Casaca) Blue Mud Swamp. The shoreline, hot and humid, is a postcard that attracts and invites Men to settle where the land meets the Yellow Sea. However, the reality is dissonant. Although surrounded by natural beauty, beaches and entertainment facilities, the city and its urban spaces transmits, as a whole, a feeling of artificiality. In some cases the abundance created a certain degradation and abandonment. With a splendor that takes us back to a recent past, a certain melancholy is present, as happens with all that was new, colorful and perfect but perished with time.

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Interrogations
Donald Webber
(Schilt, 2012)

The blurb: Interrogations is the result of [Webber’s] personal quest to uncover the hidden meaning of the bloody 20th Century. In dialogue with writer Larry Frolick – whose own ancestors had been decimated in the final months of WW II – Weber insistently and provocatively addresses his questions both to the living survivors and to the ghosts of the State’s  innumerable victims, resurrecting their final hours by taking their point of view, and  performing a kind of incantatory meditation over their private encounters with Power.

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Lick Creek Line
Ron Jude
(Mack, 2012)

The blurb: Ron Jude’s new book, Lick Creek Line, extends and amplifies his ongoing fascination with the vagaries of photographic empiricism, and the gray area between documentation and fiction. In a sequential narrative punctuated by contrasting moments of violence and beauty, Jude follows the rambling journey of a fur trapper, methodically checking his trap line in a remote area of Idaho in the Western United States. Through converging pictures of landscapes, architecture, an encroaching resort community, and the solitary, secretive process of trapping pine marten for their pelts, Lick Creek Line underscores the murky and culturally arbitrary nature of moral critique.

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Liquid Land
Rena Effendi
(Schilt, 2012)

The blurb: (Rena Effendi) Next to my father’s dead but iridescent butterflies, my photographs show life in some of the world’s most polluted areas, near Baku, where I was born and grew up. In my mind, the contrasting images gravitate towards each other – as I have to my father. Since working on this book I have gotten to know him much better than when he was alive. Salty Waters is the translation from Persian of the ‘Ab-sheuran’ Peninsula; in and around Baku, its main city, the earth is breathing with petroleum fumes, as oil oozes to the surface, turning it liquid. The Caspian Sea hugs the eagle-beak shaped land, salting its gas-pocked soil.

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Mrs. Merryman’s Collection
Anne Sophie Merryman
(Mack, 2012)

The blurb: The book, Mrs. Merryman’s Collection, presents the postcards which together form the story of two intertwined lives – one life lived travelling the world through the postcard images, the other a child and then adult whose life and relationship to her own history and her future were influenced by the collection. While Anne-Marie and Anne Sophie never met, both their lives were inspired by the postcard collection – a relationship that was born, and continues to flourish, in the realms of the imagination.

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The Present
Paul Graham
(Mack, 2012)

The blurb: The Present is Paul Graham’s contribution to this legacy. The images in this book come unbidden from the streets of New York, but are not quite what we might expect, for each moment is brought to us with its double – two images taken from the same location, separated only by the briefest fraction of time. We find ourselves in sibling worlds, where a businessman with an eye patch becomes, an instant later, a man with an exaggerated wink; a woman eating a banana walks towards us, and a small focus shift reveals the blind man right behind her.

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Also in the box are other items that add to the idea and object of the photobook.

 

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A small charge of $5 is being made to cover postage to the Boxes’ next destination in Auckland New Zealand.

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BUNDABERG: A New Nocturne Community Project

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NOCTURNE BUNDABERG: Stage One of a new community project concept

Vicky and Doug go tropical (shirts anyway) in Bundaberg

Vicky and Doug go tropical (shirts anyway) in Bundaberg

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We’ve been in Bundaberg this week (January 5-12)doing preliminary work on a new concept in our nocturne work. Here is the overview of the project:

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In April 2014 Bundaberg Regional Galleries will be hosting an artist in residency program with artists Victoria Cooper and Doug Spowart. An exhibition of their Nocturne work including new images from this region will be on show at CHARTS Gallery at Childers during April in conjunction with the Queensland Festival of Photography 5. The artists will be also working on their next Nocturne photodocumentary project, entitled Nocturne Bundaberg Region. As with the previous Nocturne Muswellborook and Nocturne Grafton projects the photographs they make will be posted on the Nocturne Bundaberg Region Facebook page so that communities can connect with the project, and importantly, share their stories about each place.

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Talking with Trudie Leigo - Exhibitions Officer @ Bundaberg Regional

Talking with Trudie Leigo – Exhibitions Officer @ Bundaberg Regional

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To extend the community’s connection with the project, Victoria and Doug will be working with a small group of photographers from across the Bundaberg Regional Council area to be contributors to the image-making part of the project. The participants will be selected using an EOI process that will be launched on the project’s Facebook page by the end of the month. Successful applicants will be advised in mid-March and they’ll attend a workshop in specialist aspects of nocturnal photography, image enhancement and the safety considerations for this work. After attending the workshop the local photographers will have an opportunity to add their images to the project’s Facebook page. Preferably, applicants should be 18 or over. Other community members may be invited to post images as well.

Any community member or person who has stories inspired by the photographs can post comments to the Facebook page..

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The Nocturne Bundaberg Region’s Facebook page images, as well as the community conversation derived from the project, may be incorporated in other outcomes including exhibitions or publications associated with the project. A selection of images may go into the Picture Bundaberg Archive.

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Nocturne Bundaberg Logo

Nocturne Bundaberg Logo

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All photographs © 2014 Cooper+Spowart  for the Nocturne Bundaberg community documentation project

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‘Our Home on the Range’ exhibition @ QCP

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Maurice Ortega opens the QCP Exhibition  - November 30, 2013  ... PHOTO: Doug Spowart

Maurice Ortega opens the QCP Exhibition – November 30, 2013 PHOTO: Doug Spowart

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DOUG CURATES QCP STUDENT EXHIBITION: “Our Home on the Range”

Southern Queensland Institute of TAFE Certificate IV in Photoimaging students recently presented their work in Brisbane as part of the Queensland Centre for Photography’s Undergraduate Bridging Program. The images in the series “Our Home on the Range” are indicative of the intention for the program to allow students to develop both creative and personal directions in their studies. Throughout 2013 the exhibiting photographers have worked with teachers Alison Ahlhaus, Sheryleigh Burns, Bev Lacey, Rachel Susa and Doug Spowart. The exhibition was curated by Doug Spowart.

The QCP Undergraduate Photo Media Bridging Program profiles the work of emerging artists who are currently studying photo media at an Australian higher learning institution. The program provides a bridge between higher learning institutions, students and the QCP, providing an insight into work currently being produced by undergraduates recognising the outstanding cultural investment made by institutions and lecturers across Australia.

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The "Our Home on the Range" exhibition

The Our Home on the Range exhibition @ QCP ….PHOTO: Doug Spowart

Kirsten Butter and Doug with her work ....PHOTO: Doug Spowart

A ‘selfie’ with Kirsten Butters and her work ….PHOTO: Doug Spowart

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Here is a gallery of the Our Home on the Range photographs …

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Jesse - Rawr Vanity by Kirsten Butters

Jesse – Rawr Vanity by Kirsten Butters

The Colours of Light by Craig Seipel

The Colours of Light by Craig Seibel

St Petersburg by Carolyn Johnson

St Petersburg by Carolyn Johnson

A chemistry experiment by Perri Hammond

A chemistry experiment by Perri Hammond

Rest in Pieces by Anna Schwenke

Rest in Pieces by Anna Schwenke

The Planet of Garden by Linsey Walker

The Planet of Garden by Linsey Walker

Shoot 'Em Up by Rhianen Dodd

Shoot ‘Em Up by Rhianen Dodd

The colours of tranquiity by Sandra McEwan

The colours of tranquiity by Sandra McEwan

A Lone Man by Riry Foran

A Lone Man by Riry Foran

Kirsten discusses her work with Rock and Roll photographer and publisher Dane Beesley

Kirsten showing work to Rock+Roll photographer and publisher Dane Beesley  ….PHOTO: Doug Spowart

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Toowoomba Chronicle Story about the exhibition

Toowoomba’s Mail Story about the exhibition

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QCP-Logo

QCP Logo

Thank you to the Queensland Centre for Photography for the support to these emerging photographers.

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QCP Director Maurice Ortega and Deputy Director Camilla Birkeland with presentation flowers at the opening

QCP Director Maurice Ortega and Deputy Camilla Birkeland at the opening

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Copyright in the photographs remains with the the photographers.

THE EXPO 88 PHOTO SHOW – 25 years on

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First & Last EXPO PHOTO SHOW Poster

First & Last EXPO PHOTO SHOW Poster

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EXPO’88 – A conceptual photographer’s document

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At this time twenty-five years ago, January 1989  – the people of Brisbane were beginning to lament the passing of EXPO’88. While the six-month adventure opportunity to encounter the world and its cultures and cuisine was to form lasting memories for some, others may have recollections of the crush of interstate and overseas visitors, the nightly flamboyant fireworks displays and the inevitable queuing to visit everything from food stalls, to exhibitions and toilets. EXPO’88 is often seen as a watershed in the transformation of Brisbane as a sleepy backwater into a vibrant cosmopolitan city of the world and, most certainly part of the 21st Century.

I had a season pass for EXPO’88 and created a personal body of work as a response to my experience of the event.

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Here is the back-story behind my 1988 project … The First & Last EXPO PHOTO SHOW

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Ethyl Stevens (USA)

EXPO 88 Crowd Crush ………..PHOTO: Ethyl Stevens aka Doug Spowart

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In the EXPO’88 event I recognised an opportunity for the creation of a new body of work investigating emerging approaches to my work methodology. For varied reasons I had introduced to my practice the creation of alias identities to which my work was attributed. These identities were quite complete in that they had refined working styles, subject matter, presentation forms, a photographic portrait, signatures and artists statements. As a gallery director it was easy to slip the work of these ‘photographers’ into group shows for commentary and critical acclaim. These personae enable me to play a little game on a system that at times, from my perspective at times, was biased, exclusive, nepotistic and overly critical. It also enabled me to explore ideas and concepts relating to my photography and the presentation of photographs.

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When EXPO offered season passes I attended the passport portrait session with pair of fake glasses and a fictitious name, Eugene Xavier Pelham Owens, the initials and the signature spelled ‘EXPO’. The deception had begun. In time this project grew into an extensive body of work from 5 different personae all representing their manufactured personal responses to the EXPO experience. The exhibition was opened on April 1st 1989 (April Fools Day), it was reviewed positively in the Courier Mail and sales of work resulted from people who found the photographs reconnecting them with their experience of the event. The deception went undetected and after the exhibition the body of work passed into obscurity, as do so many exhibitions of photographs, and was slipped into archive storage boxes in my studio.

Whilst, at the time of the fieldwork on this project I called myself a ‘conceptual photographer’ as I felt that my work was driven by the overarching idea of personal experience documents rather than the photodocumentary reportage principles of truth and reality. I was aware of the term ‘conceptual artist’ and recognized that it had all kinds of baggage attached to it based on art theory and movements, however my work as a photographer at this time has simpatico with Sol Lewitt’s 1967 manifesto on conceptual art. He states:

In conceptual art the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work. When an artist uses a conceptual form of art, it means that all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes a machine that makes the art. (Lewitt 1967)

Recently Melissa Miles has discussed the term ‘Conceptual Documentary’ in her 2010 paper The Drive to Archive: Conceptual Documentary Photobook Design. The discusses in reviewing the photobooks of Stephen Gill, Mathieu Pernot and Matthew Sleeth. She asserts that this mode of photography is based on a theory that photographers want to collect and respond to a kind of ‘archive impulse’, making and arranging image sequences of daily life into photobooks. What appeals to me is that, as a Conceptual Documentary photographer I, as Miles defines, ‘seek[s] out and frame[s] their subjects according to a pre-determined idea or scheme. Processes of repetition and categorization are central to Conceptual Documentary’ (Miles 2010:50). For me, what I was engaged in was to make a commentary from a personal viewpoint and to create a contemporary record for public presentation and, ultimately archiving. While Miles’ contemporary Conceptual Documentary practitioner including the likes of Martin Parr freely publish their photobooks in the 1980s trade published productions were beyond the reach of most photographers including myself.

What I find interesting now is that the 1980s was a particularly productive period for me as I created a trilogy of exhibitions: Tourists Facts, Acts, Rituals and Relics, Icons & Revered Australiana and The First & Last Photo Expo Show. These were essentially social documentary projects based on a personal directorial premise. I found that the limited opportunities for presentation of the framed exhibition format of these shows led me to initial experiments with boxed sets of images and ultimately to self-published photobooks, the first of which was completed in 1992.

These days I’m not so concerned about any tag as my work is often so interdiciplinarian it is hard to define. What for me is interesting is that at the time I made work that may now be able to be defined and categorized using contemporary terms and definitions. What is also important now is that the EXPO’88 photographs, some 5,000 of them, exist as an archive not necessarily as a document of the place but rather as a personal, conceptual documentary photographer’s response to the EXPO’88 experience.

Doug Spowart  December 26, 2013

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Lewitt, S. (1967). Paragraphs on Conceptual Art. Artforum 5: 8.
Miles, M. (2010) “The Drive to Archive: Conceptual Documentary Photobook Design.” Photographies 3, 49-68.

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HERE IS A SELECTION OF WORKS FROM MY EXPO’88 PSEUDONYMS

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John (Jack) Dorf (United Kingdom)

John (Jack) Dorf ………(United Kingdom)

John (Jack) Dorf (United Kingdom)

John (Jack) Dorf ………(United Kingdom)

Eugene Owens ......... (USA)

Eugene Owens …….(USA)

Eugene Owens (USA)

Eugene Owens …….(USA)

Malenky Davotchka (Russia)

Malenky Davotchka ……. (Russia)

EXPO 88 © Doug Spowart

Malenky Davotchka …….(Russia)

Y Regami (Japan)

Y Regami ……(Japan)

Y Regami (Japan)

Y Regami ……. (Japan)

Hanna Rhetzik (Czechoslovakia)

Hanna Rhetzik …….(Czechoslovakia)

Hanna Rhetzik (Chezekolvakia)

Hanna Rhetzik ……(Czechoslovakia)

Ethyl Stevens (USA)

Ethyl Stevens …….(USA)

Ethyl Stevens (USA)

Ethyl Stevens …….(USA)

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A PDF PRESENTATION CONTAINING MORE IMAGES IS AVAILABLE HERE: EXPO-SPOWART-v3

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First & Last EXPO PHOTO SHOW Poster

First & Last EXPO PHOTO SHOW Poster

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Images and text © Doug Spowart   Design of the Poster: Trish Briscoe

From the Doug Spowart Personal Art Archive 1953-2014

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2013-14 NEW YEARS EVE FIREWORKS: Frogs Hollow – Toowoomba

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NEW YEAR’s EVE – A time for freedom from order — a time for fun.

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So we left the big cameras at home and went out with the little Olympus Pens point-n-shoot. No tripod – no big plans – “Bulb” setting, watch, mingle, be a part of the ‘BANG’, ‘Crackle’, ‘POP’ and the gasps and murmur of the crowd.

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These are truly experiments in capturing the experience and essence of a fireworks display in regional Australia … Enjoy!

And all the very best to you for the New Year!

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Click on any image for it to enlarge …

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© 2014 Victoria Cooper and Doug Spowart

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