Head On Photo Festival unveils huge program

The prestigious Head On Photo Festival will return to Sydney from May 5 – 20, with a jam-packed exhibition and workshop program which celebrates the finest local and international photography.

Image credits top left to right: Charlotte Reynolds, Paula Bronstein, Taro Karibe, Samantha Everton, Jose Maria Carvalho Ferreira, Nancy Borowick, Emma Hack, Justin Tan Torres, Debi Cornwall

From personal photography by Pattie Boyd during her time with George Harrison and Eric Clapton; to Japanese love dolls; the death rituals of Indonesia; John F. Kennedy; and an emotional exploration of a family’s dual cancer fight, Head On Photo Festival has delivered yet another broad selection of exhibitions.

Over 100 exhibitions will pop up around town, splashing colour onto Sydney’s walls.

Paddington will again serve as the festival hub, with over 20 exhibition taking place at venues like the Town Hall and Reservoir Gardens, as well as inside more than 30 Oxford Street shopfronts.

Public art installations will spread to new places, with the Royal Botanic Gardens playing host to a series of interactive exhibitions – including a floating exhibition in one of the ponds, and an interactive app based collection.

‘We have some of the most incredible work coming to Sydney for this year’s Festival. The very best photographers from around the world are bringing their works to Sydney for the Festival, and we’re excited to be exhibiting works from over 700 photographers from 22 different countries,’ said Moshe Rosenzveig, director of Head On. ‘Once again Head On Photo Festival launches with a special opening night gala event where we announce the winners of the Head On Photo Awards, Australia’s most prestigious photography awards. Representing a global selection of the best work from emerging and established photographers, the Head On Photo Awards is made up of four categories: Portrait, Mobile, Student and Landscape.

‘In a first for the Festival we’ll also be showcasing works from some of the biggest and most respected photo competitions and awards, from Australia and internationally. Finalists and winners from the most recent Moran Contemporary Photographic Prize, Tokyo International Photography Competition, Alpha Awards and Wildlife Photographer of the Year will be shown at Head On this year.’

Here’s a few exhibition highlights:

Personal documentation
In Nancy Borowick’s The Family Imprint, the audience is introduced to a deeply personal story of family, looking at the experiences of Borowick’s own parents who were in parallel treatment for stage-four cancer, side by side.  The project looks at love and life in the face of death, from dual diagnosis to the moments of love shared with each other and their family.

Other explorations of personal life include Juan Pablo Echeverri‘s miss fotojapan where hundreds of photo booth images of the artist depict his changing appearance over 17 years; and in American Visionary: John F. Kennedy’s Life and Times the golden age of photojournalism in America is on full display, featuring a wide range of images of the world’s most photographed politician. The exhibition during Head On also coincides with what would have been the Former President’s 101st Birthday on 29 May, 2018.

Pattie Boyd was the original ‘1960’s It girl’, model and first wife to both The Beatles’ George Harrison and Eric Clapton. Known as a muse to both artists, Boyd was also renowned for her work behind the lens and will be coming to Sydney for the Festival with a collection of never-before-seen photographs that offer an intimate glimpse into her life with the two British music legends. George Harrison, Eric Clapton & Me: The Photography of Pattie Boyd will run throughout the entire Festival.

The World Today
Culture and the way people live in today’s society is explored in a number of exhibitions at the Festival. Focusing on the one subject, 61-year old Senji Nakajima, Saori looks at the human condition, connections and the fascinating popularity of realistic, life-sized ‘love dolls’ in Japan.

America’s obsession with guns is explored in two very different shows. Garret Hansen’s HAIL, responds to the fact that there are enough guns in America to arm every man, woman, and child in the country.  Images are created from individual bullet holes displayed on 12 panels that represent a single month in Kentucky and records every homicide involving a gun that occurred during that month. In 2nd Amendment Cowboy, photographer Daniel Gonçalves attempts to understand America’s gun culture and owners, as well as his own feelings towards them in a series of striking portraits.

2018 marks the 16th anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo Bay, the first war on terror prison. Former human rights lawyer turned photographer, Debi Cornwall paints a vivid and disorientating picture of life in and after Guantanamo in her series Welcome to Camp America: Inside Guantanamo Bay. The exhibition will leave audiences questioning the choices made by the West, including Australia, in the era of the War on Terror.

Changing Perspectives: Renewable Energy and the Shifting Human Landscape is a multi-year aerial and ground-based photography project by Jamey Stillings that documents the important renewable energy development around the world. Renewable energy is a hot topic and new projects are being built around the world at a remarkable pace, this project documents the efforts being made globally to shift energy production away from Fossil Fuels.

Somos Brasil is a multimedia exhibition by Marcus Lyon and explores the diversity of Brazilian identity at the outset of the 21st century through ultra-high quality portraits, image activated app based soundscapes and DNA. Over a six-month period Lyon toured Brazil exploring the most diverse corners of the country with a producer and sound recordist. Together they mapped the ancestral DNA, personal stories and visual identity of over one hundred remarkable Brazilians.

Other exhibitions providing a window into the world today include Living for Death, in which photographer Alain Schroeder documents the complex and expensive Indonesian ritual Ma’nene, where family members dig up, clean and redress their deceased loved ones. In James Whitlow Delano’s Normalizing Extrajudicial Murder in the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal campaign against drugs is explored by focusing on the stories of the people most affected by the estimated 13,000 extrajudicial killings.

Australian Photographers
Australian photographers shine at Head On, with a fascinatingly wide variety of subjects captured and on display. In Of Caravans and Canvas Queensland-based Photographer Craig Holmes sets out to capture the human face of the circus, following Australia’s longest running family-run circus, Ashton Circus, and investigating the individuals and environment that combine to create the travelling canvas theatre.

Having earnt international acclaim when her body painting was featured in Gotye’s music video Somebody I Used to Know, Emma Hack returns to Australia for Head On Photo Festival with two colourful new series, Flight of Fancy and Geometric.

Stuart Spence is a man of many talents, a photographer, columnist, presenter and author but most importantly he’s a man with the ability to turn garbage tins into Daleks, camping chairs to nervy beasts, and blow up dolls into anxious girlfriends. Enter the world of When A Man Snaps, at the Festival where Stuey’s words and photographs come together, uncovering the humour, whimsy and confusion of a world most of us walk right past.

Two Australian artists look to the east with their premiere Festival shows. Samantha Everton’s series, Indochine, explores notions of female identity and the meeting of eastern and western traditions by depicting Oriental women posed against intensely Ornate backdrops, whilst Olivia Martin-Maguire’s Double Happiness looks into China’s 80 billion dollar wedding industry and how pre-wedding photography has grown to become one of the most significant and curious parts of the industry.

These spectacular photographic works and many more will be on display in galleries and other locations all over Sydney throughout May for Head On Photo Festival 2018.

As well as exhibitions, the prestigious Head On Photo Awards will take place, along with an assortment of world-renowned speakers, and innovative workshops, all showcasing the work from over 700 Australian and international photographers.

But wait, there’s more!

Recommended exhibitions:
-Waves and Water, Various Artists. The work of nine important Australian photographers, including Max Dupain, working over the course of the past one hundred years reveals differing perspectives of the Australian beach and the swimmers and surfers who populate it;
– Papua New Guinea field studio portrait series, Brian Hodges. An exploration of the style and the aesthetic values of the Papua New Guinea highland tribes, who remain largely unadulterated by external influences;
– Heterotopia: the Promised Land, Demetris Koilalous. Heterotopia looks at what has been accomplished in contemporary Israel in the name of the Promised Land;
Unregognized Nation, Forgotten War, Emanuele Amighetti. This exhibition explores the escalating and ongoing war between Armenia and Azerbaijan;
– Words In Sight, Gillian Hyland. A narrative photography series that has been inspired by poetry written by the artist over the past decade;
– AddOn 2018, Various Artists. One of the core events of Head On Photo Festival, AddOn showcases a diverse and exciting range of square images, taken by more than 100 photographers spanning professionals, artists, enthusiasts, celebrities and politicians;
– AUSSIE STREET 2018, Various artists. The best contemporary street photography from around Australia;
– Jon Lewis Classics, Jon Lewis.  A look back at the work of multi-faceted photographer and educator, Jon Lewis, who has produced some of Australia’s most iconic images – from Bondi to the bush;
– EL CLOT, Jorge López Muñoz. A look at the slum like neighbourhood of El Clot, located in El Cabanyal, Valencia’s historic fishing district;
Surface Deep, Kim Percy. An installation of floating photographs that creates an ethereal and poignant exploration of the timeless beauty of our most precious resource: water;
Progress?, Leah Kennedy. An exploration of humans through our interaction with the environment in the early stages of our mark on the land;
Eternal Presence, Misha Pedan. A series of eighty-two photographs, taken at various locations and mostly showing us everyday scenes from urban life;
Portraits et icônes, Philippe Vermès. This exhibition is compiled of classic portraits of famous photographers;
The Pool Grant 2018: To Set Fire to the Sea, Sinead Kennedy. Explores mandatory immigration detention in Australia;
– Dead and Dreams, Zalmai Ahad. This exhibition brings together photographs Zalmai made between 2008 and 2013 against the backdrop of the fourteen-year US-led invasion of Afghanistan that culminated with the withdrawal of American troops;
Reaction, Dafina Tal. The project investigates the response of various participants as they listen to the sounds of Christian, Jewish and Muslim prayers. The outcome is a series of vertical ‘video portraits’ preforming identical soundtrack, depicting the various recipient’s reactions;
Diversity, Pat Brassington, Blak Douglas, Juno Gemes, Nasim Nasr, William Yang. A celebration of cultural diversity of renowned Australian photographers with different ethnic and cultural heritage;
In Memory of Water, Shoufay Derz. From the Badlands of the USA to the Chalk Cliffs of Rügen Germany, Derz explores monumental eroded landscapes to generate what she calls ‘luminous voids’, a visual poetry of the unknown;
Beach & Mardi, William Yang. Celebrated LGBTQI photographer William Yang has spent his career photographing two iconic symbols of Sydney, the beach and the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. This exhibition is a collection of his photographers from the early eighties to today.


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