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SELECTING AN APPA PHOTOBOOK DISPLAY

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Doug in the APPA space working thru the books on a cold Melbourne winter's day   PHOTO: Victoria Cooper

Doug in the APPA space working thru the books on a cold Melbourne winter’s day PHOTO: Victoria Cooper

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Selecting photobooks @ APPA: A methodology and the list.

 

I was recently given the opportunity to select books from the Asia Pacific Photobook Archive for their wall display over the next month. While selecting a book to look at and buy in a bookshop can be a challenging enough, the task to review the archive and select around 30 books was daunting. I figured that I needed a methodology.

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After some thought I put my ideas to Victoria Cooper, photomonteur Peter Lyssiotis, and APPA Director Daniel Boetker-Smith – here’s what we came up with:

  • that I’d attempt to make a book array that mirrors the Asia Pacific geographical region
  • that I’d select work that was reasonably contemporary
  • that the names of the book makers would not unnecessarily bias my selection (interestingly the photographers of books from locations like China, Japan and south east Asia were quite unknown to me)
  • that where possible I would select photographers working on their subject matter relating to their own country (the books of some localities were made by visiting photographers).

 

I wasn’t just going to look at books. As I reached out for, and held each book, I’d consider it as an object, feel its presence and weight, the tactile and sensory experience of the thing. Then I’d engage with its mechanical properties of turning the pages and becoming acquainted with it as a communicative device. In this the following would be considered:

  • layout
  • typography
  • images and their sequencing
  • paper, production and binding methods
  • it as a narrative form.

 

In the final moments of engagement with the book I’d need to make a judgment call – was it successful? Whatever that may be? I am a firm believer in Roland Barthes’ proposition that the moment a written piece, I would say a book, is passed to others to read/view that the ‘author dies’ and that the ‘reader is born’. So, as the reader, I was to make the following decisions. I should note that towards the final stages of geographical assemblage I called upon Daniel and his extensive knowledge, to suggest books from, or about specific areas to be considered by me for inclusion.

 

The Doug Spowart APPA Selection

The Doug Spowart APPA Selection

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Here is selection of the geographic locations, their makers and the titles:

 

Dubai/Surfers Paradise – Sean Fennessy ‘Gold’

Iran/Australia – Katayoun Javan ‘Correspondences: A photographic journey between past/Iran & present/Australia’

India – Munem Wasif ‘Belonging’

India – Pablo Bartholomew ‘Outside In’

Bangladesh – Shahidul Alam ‘The Birth Pangs of a Nation’

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Burma – Bruce Connew ‘On the way to an ambush’

Cambodia – Isabella Capzio ‘Where the water once was: Boeung Kat Lake Phnom Penh

Thailand – Hiro Imai ‘Bangkok’

Thailand – Miti Ruangkritya ‘Thai Politics no.2’

Laos – Michael Greenlar ‘Remnants of a secret war’

Malaysia – Welan Chong ‘Please mind the gap: Singapore’

Hong Kong – Douglas Khoo ‘Be Still Hong Kong’

Sri Lanka – Nihal Fernando ‘Sri Lanka: A personal Journey’

China – Huang Qingjun & Ma Hongjie ‘Family Stuff’

 

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China – Li Kejun ‘The Good Earth’

China – Zhang Xiao ‘Coastline’ (?)

China – ‘Lens on Wesi Lake’

China – Vincci Huang ‘Eyes in the air’

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China – Wu Chenghuan ‘Street Fighters’ Beijing

Taiwan – Paul Koolher ‘Political Chaos’

Japan – Bruno Quinquet ‘Salaryman Project: Business Schedule’

Japan – Chie Murakami ‘Japanese Girl’

Japan – Sun Yanchu ‘Obsessed’

Japan – Big book Japanese cities

Japan – Saori Ninomiya ‘Requiem’.

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Japan – Shuichiro Shibata ‘Bus Stop’

Japan – Zhao Renbui & Satoshi Katnoku ‘The whiteness of a whale: a project with The Institute of Critical Zoologists’

West Coast American book

Canadian book

Philippines – Dina Gadia ‘Buxxxom Grind’

South Pacific region – Monini Chandra ‘Album Pacifica’

Mexico – Isabella Capezio ‘Feathered Serpents & Visions of the Mother’

Australia – George Voulgaropoulos ‘Children of Auburn’

Australia – [n]

Australia – Emma Phillips ‘Volcán’ (Variant ?)

Australia – Lilli Waters ‘She Raw’

Australia – Ingvar Kenne ‘The Hedgehog and the Foxes’

Australia – Melissa Deerson (Coordinated) ‘Docklands Field Trip’ Melbourne

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Australia – Louis Porter ‘Bad Driving’

New Zealand – David Cook, Wiramu Puke and Jenty Valentine ‘River–Road: Journeys Through Ecology’

New Zealand – Solomon Mortimer ‘Solomon’s Travels: Volume One 2012’

New Zealand – Lucien Rizos ‘A man walks out of a bar: New Zealand photographs 1979-1982’

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Antarctica – Ann Noble ‘Ice Blink’

 

END OF LIST  (Some books are not listed here…)

 

 

Doug and APPA Director Daniel Boetker-Smith       PHOTO: Victoria Cooper

Doug and APPA Director Daniel Boetker-Smith PHOTO: Victoria Cooper

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Thanks must go to Daniel’s ongoing support of this project and making this resource available for us all — And also thanks to the photographers for contributing to the archive.

 

Cheers  Doug

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APPA Sign

 

 

 

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WISEMAN ON SAFARI @ Brisbane’s Maud Gallery

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Respectfully Intruding by John Wiseman @ Maud Gallery, Brisbane

August 6  – September 13, 2014.  The exhibition was opened by Ken Duncan on August 8.

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Maud Gallery window

Maud Gallery window

 

John Wiseman’s photography exhibition Respectfully Intruding at Brisbane’s Maud Gallery presents an invitation to go on safari and peek over his shoulder while he observes and photographs wildlife on the African savannah or in the Costa Rican rainforest. Luckily for us his invitation is to the gallery and the trials and complexities of journeys to exotic places are made easy for us. He also saves us the trouble of waiting, waiting, fighting impatience and the agonies of cramped photography vehicles and observation hides. Dust, flies, mosquitoes, things that will sting or eat you are not part of Wiseman’s plan. We are also spared the burdens of travel, airports, border guards with guns and the grind of life in these exotic lands. What we are given are his photographs.

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Maud Gallery installation

Maud Gallery installation

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In the white spaces of Maud Gallery, a kind of ‘safari of wonder’ is encountered –as the visitor wanders through the exhibition of wildlife and flora images. Rhino, elephant, leopard and lion of Africa inhabit the front room. Then in contrast to the ochres, browns and blacks, there are birds, flowers, frogs and snakes in green, yellow and turquoise of the rainforest that inhabit the large inner gallery. The bridge between these two environments is the photography style and vision of John Wiseman.

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Leopard

The Lioness

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We are no stranger to subjects like these as they have adorned National Geographic magazines, a thousand Attenborough ‘Life on Earth’ TV programs and countless coffee table books. We may have become so familiar with these subjects that these new works may just become just another ‘one of those’. But I would say look again. Wiseman is no quick snap wildlife shooter – his images exhibit careful consideration for subject and the moment captured. His arrangement and design of the image and concern for lighting takes images to the perfect moment that we think only Photoshop fakery could reveal. But these are real images from single exposures straight out of the camera without much post capture treatment.

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Blue Eyes

Blue Eyes

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Individual images stand out and draw your attention to the framed photograph – for those who love cats, a stunning image of a leopard with clear eyes will hold you in it’s mesmerising and piercing gaze. In another photograph entitled, ‘Family Portrait’, a lioness and four playful cubs look off camera with ears pricked up, attention aroused – for the viewer there is an ability to take in that frozen moment. Someone with an understanding of safari photography will wonder low long and what patience it took for Wiseman to get such an image.

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Family Portrait

Family Portrait

Hummingbird

Blue Hummingbird

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In the Central American space humming birds dance and glide in many frames. Frozen in flight, something that is particularly difficult to photograph, these birds are like airborne jewels with iridescent colouring attracted to equally colourific blooms. Once again Wisemans mastery of technique gets the photo but his sense of design, moment of capture, concern for background and subject placement make these extraordinary photographs. A multiple electronic flash setup is used to create these images and in a few photos Wisemen has synchronised the flash with a slow shutter speed allowing a frozen moment, as in the other images, to be combined with the blur of the wings in the longer moment of capture. For me this tells the greater story of the little bird’s hovering capacity and the beauty of this feathered flight.

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Hummingbird

Hummingbird Feeding

Scarlet Macaw

Scarlet Macaw

Toucan in the rain

Toucan in the rain

 

The Costa Rican rainforest also has its share of frogs that perform for Wiseman’s camera. Colours, backgrounds, movement and clarity once again reflect Wiseman’s fascination for the natural world. Other images that evoke response include a toucan in the rain, and the sinister shapes of snakes, the most beautiful of which hides camouflaged in the framework of a heliconia flower.

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Frog

The Serenity of Sleep

Snake on heliconia

Viper on heliconia.

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In an artist’s statement Wiseman states that he finds in his photography adventures: ‘The intoxicating excitement of the animals of Africa; the size, beauty and grace of these creatures and the love of the chase.’ And that most certainly is evident in the photographic works presented to us in this exhibition. And unlike many who venture, or have in the past, ventured into exotic lands in search of the hunt and big game with a gun – John Wiseman has been, and shot big and small game, and presented his trophies of the living things for us to observe and share his excitement and wonder of these things.

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John Wiseman reading up on Costa Rican birds

John Wiseman reading up on Costa Rican birds

 

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Doug Spowart   18 August 2014

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Texts and installation photos © Doug Spowart 2014     Photographs from the exhibition © John Wiseman

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ALEX STALLING’s PORTRAITS [part two]

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Alex Stalling in her Portrait exhibition

Alex Stalling in her Portrait exhibition

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Portraits: Layers of Meaning

Portraits [part two] An exhibition by Alex Stalling at Culliford Gallery, Toowoomba. July 28 – August 24, 2014

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Alex Stalling’s latest exhibition Portraits [Part Two] will certainly challenge the idea we might have of what a portrait can be. The bare white walls of the Toowoomba Art Society’s Culliford House Gallery, are punctuated by 20cm square pieces of white art paper onto which the artist has meticulously drawn and painted a ‘portrait’. Now these portraits are not of people we might know, someone famous, auntie Ethel, a sleeping child or a happy couple – they are … of animals – meta animals!

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Alex Stalling's Portrait exhibition

Alex Stalling’s Portrait exhibition

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Stalling has essentially created works made up of the shape or outlines of different animals. The animals sometimes morph and overlap – other times they are juxtaposed to suggest associations. A deer’s head and antlers adjoin a similar shape at 180o to form what looks like tree roots. A prancing deer dances with the outline of a upright bear. A moose stands on top of another, and a doe stands yet again on top! These works are like Mr Squiggle drawings gone wrong, or prints where the paper has jammed in the printer.

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Portrait #5

Portrait #5

Portrait #36

Portrait #36

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Many animals are bedecked with garlands of pink and orange flowers. This decorative element links individual artworks in the exhibition. A limited palette of flat colours of brown, orange, bright blue, pink and dark green also provides a cohesive aspect to the show.

The confusion of meaning continues. As if to create a cryptic challenge to the viewer – the animal outlines are partially filled-in often with bright and fluoro colours, but not in ways that help identification. The colouring implies another shapes or patternings which are partially obscured by the outlined edge of the animal. It is as though the animal outline has been cut out to reveal the abstract flat colour shape below on a background sheet.

 

#9

Portrait #9

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From a distance the outlines and colour shapes may appear to the gallery visitors as maps of continents, countries or localities. The colours perhaps define boundaries within those spaces. Moving up-close the another interpretation emerges – but it too, as discussed, is puzzling. Every image becomes a game, a riddle of confused meaning, a mind recognition trick, something that can amuse, entertain or stimulate the viewer to action.

Just who are these animal motifs a portrait of? The artist? A thought? And idea? A dream or muse, or influence? Or all of these…

The strength of Alex Stalling’s Portrait works is that they are not unchallenging easy-lookers, but rather works that demand the viewer to seek within themselves a resolution to a visual challenge – there, maybe they will find their ‘portrait’, and the meaning within the artworks.

Perhaps too, when an artist does a portrait, it also becomes a self-portrait of the artist themselves …

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Doug Spowart

August 12, 2014

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MORE INFORMATION 

 

http://www.alexstalling.com/

 

THIS SUNDAY in the exhibition space:

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https://www.facebook.com/bespokemarkets

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Text and installation photos ©2014 Doug Spowart     All artworks ©2014 Alex Stalling

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BOOKS AS ART: 30 YEARS IN THE MAKING – Catherine McCue Boes

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BOOKS AS ART: 30 YEARS IN THE MAKING by Catherine McCue Boes

Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery – 14 May – June 29, 2014

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An observation of artists and artmaking in the regions…

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Artmaking and artists from the regions are constantly sidelined by the power of proximity that pervades these ‘blessed’ centres of art and culture. People who make ‘real art’, it seems, come from places where populations are concentrated, like ‘big cities’ or localities where a place of learning (university) or an uber vibrant arts community exists. In Australia the place names of Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Hobart and perhaps Bris-vey-gas, are part of a roll call of significantly charged places for artmaking, presentation, commentary and critique. *[Note: artists’ books have a wider community of practice that is more inclusive due to the fact that regional centres tend to present events, awards and workshops that bring the city and country together. SEE https://wotwedid.com/2013/05/13/2013-libris-awards-the-judges-view/]

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With this in mind, then consider my surprise when I recently encountered an exhibition of artists books at the Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery. The main gallery held one of the largest exhibitions of artists books I’ve seen for some time. The show was more impressive because it was essentially the book works of one person with additional books by others coming from the artist’s collection. The exhibition, entitled Book as art: 30 years in the making, was by Catherine McCue Boes a local Bundaberg artist. As the title implies the exhibition encompasses a significant period of time and the life of the artist.

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Exhibition frontpiece

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Engaging with the artists books on display was a challenge – I walked around the space, glancing at and visually grazing the works on display. In keeping with the gallery display norm for artists book display the books were not for touching with many in vitrine glassed cages. Many books were the concertina form that allowed for easy reading and connection with the narrative. The artist also presented alongside the books wall works to give the reader an idea of the contents of the book.

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Exhibition installation of 'Books as art'   Photo: Doug Spowart

Exhibition installation of Books as art: 30 years in the making

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After my initial viewing, the sheer volume of the work on display and the demands that such a volume of complex and at times conceptually dense places on the viewer, I had to go away and come back to the gallery for a second viewing.

On my return I was drawn to a number of the accessible concertina books. The first of was, In Paris 2012, which dealt with the artist’s personal experience of walking in Paris and the extraordinary things experienced. The book’s plain white paper surface is inscribed with diaristic jottings, a quick unfinished drawing of the Eiffel Tower, a textural pattern element, and deep-etched monochrome photographs of sculptures and architectural details. A pink abstracted form with a pigment-bled edge repeats over many pages – is it a memory of a figure walking in the rain with an umbrella or is it a self-portrait?

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Books as Art: 30 years in the making Catherine McCue Boes Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery

In Paris 2012, Catherine McCue Boes

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In another work, Preserved in Australia, an old Kodak folding camera has the concertina bellows extended ready for use. Spilling from the rear of the camera explodes a concertina of 20 or so images attached to the viewing hood. The book is derived from a period of time where the artist worked in Roebourne in Australia’s north west. The photos are from the early 1900s, loaned by their owners – residents from Roebourne as well as from the local Historical Museum. McCue Boes has metamorphosed the camera and it’s image legacy into a device for viewing history.

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Books as Art: 30 years in the making Catherine McCue Boes Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery

Preserved in Australia, Catherine McCue Boes

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An early book, First Revolution (Macbeth) Lithographs 1989, represents the artist’s reference to the Shakespearian theatrical character of the same name. These stone lithographs are accompanied by screen-printed texts on the verso page. In the style of the livre d’artist this large format book with it’s thick deck-edged pages and codex binding make it a strident piece of work. Whilst the book is firmly enclosed in a vitrine and opened to one page only, individual prints from other pages of the book are presented as a framed artworks on the wall.

The First Revolution is also referential to the artist’s major influence, an 1800s book of rococo etchings she discovered in the 1980s and bought at an auction. She states in the exhibition materials that: ‘this was the catalyst for me to not only collect artist books but also create them’. The binding, its construction, materials and its red covering are echoed in many works.

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A New Book of Shields 1770-1800

A New Book of Shields 1770-1800

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Books as Art: 30 years in the making Catherine McCue Boes Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery

First Revolution (Macbeth) Lithographs 1989, Catherine McCue Boes

 

The hybrid mix of traditional printmaking and digital techniques creates an opportunity for McCue Boes to extend the artist’s vision and the nature of the outcome. In the 2005 book The Red Shoes, Mark 3 the artist references the Hans Christian Anderson children’s story of the same title. Seven linocuts have been enhanced through scanning into the computer, being redrawn and with text added – the result is a blending of the tradition of print with the graphic elements of typography to convey the story.

Catherine McCue Boes works with other artists in international mail art projects that are presented in another section of the exhibition. A collaborative work curated by the artist, entitled, Life Line, Flood project 2014, brings us back to the idea of the artist’s work being affected by the places they come from. In 2013 devastating floods inundated Bundaberg and upper reaches of the Burnett River. The swollen river gouged out land, animals, houses, trees and farms and significantly affected the land and people of the whole region. McCue Boes curated a collection of photos and texts from friends and assembled a concertina book that carries the sentiments of the contributors. The book is a narrative of many voices with text and image carrying the emotion and the spirit of the contributors. Art often has a dual role, that of the healing catharsis and also to present accounts that can inform those who did not witness the grief first-hand. While this work may be a little uneven in its attempt to blend the individual contributions it is profoundly successful in its purpose and outcome.

Working around to other books in the show a persistent source of inspiration is the artist’s surroundings and environment. I’m reminded of Lucy Lippard’s statement that: ‘Everybody comes from someplace, and the places we come from–cherished or rejected–inevitably affect our work[i]’. This is most notable in a body of work arranged on an island-like plinth towards the rear of the gallery. Assembled is a collection of books that relate to mining environments. McCue Boes works with photographic images, irony and conceptual play to present a variety of book forms and commentaries.

The book, Inspiration from the Artificial Environment 2012, consists of 16 photographic images and borders printed on canvas that are presented in a form that mimics wallpaper, soft furnishing and curtain material sample books. The patterns are photo elements flipped and flopped to form plausible, although somewhat 1960s dated looking designs for decorating your home. The reality of the source images is that they are the detritus of mining workspaces and consist of rusting drums, cable, pipes waste and pondage.

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First Revolution (Macbeth) Lithographs 1989,

Inspiration from the Artificial Environment 2012, Catherine McCue Boes

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Other books, some that are more book-like sculptural forms, are part of this body of work. Presentation includes commercial boxes, simulated strips of black and white negatives, abstracted photographs and industrial labels – one stating, ‘Danger – This energy source has been LOCKED-OUT’.

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Books as Art: 30 years in the making Catherine McCue Boes Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery

Fragile 2012, Catherine McCue Boes

 

.A major contribution to this environmentally themed piece is the book/s, Fragile 2012, which is a collection of 12 small concertina books each containing 10 photographs. When assembled the covers create a full-sized image of flaming torch-like structures. The unsuspecting viewer may encounter these little photobooks as a pleasant visual wander through shapes, forms and colours. However the artist has seductively blind-sighted the viewer – these are not pretty and benign subjects. The accompanying didactic explains the photographs were made while participating in an artist in residence in a gas mining plant in Queensland. The artist adds to the didactic that: ‘The work demonstrates my concern for the environment and the depletion of the country’s resources.’

A position pervades many works in the show and I’m reminded of Lucy Lippard’s closing comment in the catalogue for the exhibition Weather Report: Art and Climate Change, where she speaks of the artist as a commentator, communicator and as one who acts as a provocateur. Lippard proposes, ‘… it is the artist’s job to teach us how to see.’ (Lippard 2007:11) Through these works McCue Boes is as an artist ‘teaching us to see’. The strength of her communiqué in these political works is achieved through with irony and humour, and the association with reality of the photographic image.

Books as Art: 30 years in the making is not an exhibition about art, or about making, or even about books. It is an exhibition about the very stuff of life and the human experience of the world – an experience that needs to be shared.

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Portrait: Catherine McCue-Bowes

Portrait: Catherine McCue-Bowes

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I’ve made a note also about the importance of proximity in regional centres as well – the ‘big city’ should come visiting sometime. They may be amazed!

 

Doug Spowart

July 28, 2014


VISIT CATHERINE McCUE BOES Website: http://catherinemccue.blogspot.com.au/

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Reference:

[i] Lippard, L. R. (1997). The Lure of the Local: Sense of Place in a Multicentered Society. New York, The New Press. P36.

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Review text © 2014 Doug Spowart

All photographs  © 2014 Doug Spowart

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Creative Commons-by-nc-nd.eu

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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