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in the loop may 15: full on, head on

While the Head On Photo Festival in Sydney is the new kid on the block, starting up in 2010, it appears to have had a shot of rapid growth hormone. Now the largest photography festival in Australia, it claims to be the second largest in the world. (Sydney does like to do big!) Of course it manages this via conglomeration so there’s probably not a gallery in Sydney that you will walk into in late May that isn’t part of Head On. With so much happening it’s hard to know where to start the adventure so below are a few thematic inroads.

via the document

Tom Goldner, Volta Tom Goldner, Volta
courtesy the artist
Photography is perhaps most associated with its power to bear witness to events—violent, confronting, humbling or inspiring—and there’s no shortage of documentary realism in Head On. Jimmy Pozarik has spent a year as photographer in residence at the Sydney Children’s Hospital, his images illustrating the devastating fragility of life. At the same gallery are Tom Goldner’s portraits of children from Lake Volta in Ghana, an area known for its human trafficking. The contrasting exhibitions create a complex dialogue about how young lives are valued. (Global Gallery Paddington, May 15-26;

Barbara McGrady, Visions In Black & White: Images From Indigenous Australia Barbara McGrady, Visions In Black & White: Images From Indigenous Australia
courtesy the artist
At Redfern Community Centre you can see Visions In Black & White: Images From Indigenous Australia by Barbara McGrady, a Gamilario/Murri woman who has been documenting contemporary Aboriginal life for 30 years. This exhibition features photos from the last three years including coverage of the Occupy Movement and significant Aboriginal cultural and music events. (Redfern Community Centre, May 10-June 30;

Anton Kuster, YAKUZA Anton Kuster, YAKUZA
courtesy the artist
For a taste of the hyper-real gangster life, check out Anton Kuster’s photographic series which follows a Japanese Yakuza family for two years. (The Muse, TAFE Sydney Institute, May 18-June 22,


Dean Tirkot, Betty Grumble, 2013 Dean Tirkot, Betty Grumble, 2013
courtesy the artist
A number of exhibitions feature a playful use of the photographic medium, highlighting it as a tool for identity construction. At MOP Gallery Dean Tirkot has worked with “gender-ambiguous characters” including Glitta Supernova, Betty Grumble and Dallas Dellaforce. The images are captured on a large format 8x10” Deardoff field camera and are accompanied by texts by Welsh writer Wil Gritten. (MOP Gallery, May 9-26;

Kourtney Roy, Auto Myths Kourtney Roy, Auto Myths
courtesy the artist
Canadian artist Kourtney Roy’s Auto Myths are nostalgic reconstructions, a “tragic mythology of the self, a personal universe where the prosaic is pervaded with the marvelous and strange” (website). Think Cindy Sherman meets Sophie Calle. (Customs House, Level 2 Library, May 15-July 15;

Cordelia Beresford, Presence Cordelia Beresford, Presence
courtesy the artist
At Gaffa Gallery, filmmaker Cordelia Beresford continues her investigation of haunted spaces with Presence (see RT100). These photographs re-create imagined inhabitations of spaces such as a farm in Normandy used to house WWII prisoners and the reform school for girls on Sydney’s Cockatoo Island. (Gaffa Creative Precinct, May 30-June 8;


Ben Lowry, iAfghanistan Ben Lowry, iAfghanistan
courtesy the artist
New developments in technology mean that everyone identifies as a photographer. Rather than fighting it some professionals are embracing the new democratising methods and testing their limits. In iAfghanistan, New York photographer Ben Lowry uses mobile phones and the free online Instagram App to explore life in Afghanistan. (State Library of NSW, Macquarie St. Foyer, April 28- July 27;

Tim Hixson, Starry starry night, Ludlites Love Music Tim Hixson, Starry starry night, Ludlites Love Music
courtesy the artist
In the group exhibition Ludlites Love Music, artists such as Patrick Boland, Heleana Genaus and Steve Godbee use plastic cameras to create images inspired by popular song lyrics. (Bondi Pavilion Gallery, May 15-June 23;

Jaroslaw Klups (2010), Pinhole Photo, Ghost Machine Jaroslaw Klups (2010), Pinhole Photo, Ghost Machine
courtesy the artist
Taking an opposite approach, Ghosting Machine is a group exhibition featuring Australian and international artists, including Bronwyn Rennex, Aaron Seeto, Katthy Cavaliere and Jaroslaw Klups (Pol) presenting works made using 19th century techniques such as daguerreotypes, wet collodion prints and cyanotypes to create other worldly images. (Delmar Gallery, May 12-June 6;

This is just a taste of the 80 featured exhibitions and 60 associated exhibitions as well as workshops, portfolio reviews and forums.
The best way to tackle the onslaught? Head on!

Head On Photo festival, various venues Sydney, launches May 17; see website for full info

RealTime issue #114 April-May 2013 pg. web

© RealTime ; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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