Friday, 30 September 2011

Chris Town for China Heights

Chris Town is no stranger to China Heights being a regular exhibitor for the gallery. Unsurprisingly many of his well priced and accessible prints (which appeared to be collages flattened by a high quality colour photocopier) had several red dots next to them (for those who don't know a red dot indicates sold). The theme for his latest offering 'Randy Credit Ruins Daily Contrast' was born out of his visits to China, where he found life synthetic and polluted. And reworked newspaper cuttings, mostly from tabloid press, exploring the manipulation of the media in a comedic light. The visual diary featuring flowers and advertising is the most engaging and even left me contemplating a purchase.
Exhibition runs until October 15th , L3, 16-28 Foster Street, Surry Hills

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Where he creates, he encourages others to create

Here is an edited interview with an inspirational photographer, Paul Barbera, originally written for Academy for Men. His generosity has connected me with some delightful people in Melbourne, the perfect Melburnian to feature on my blog.  

Where They Create, he creates
Paul Barbera shoots ACNE Stockholm for Where They Create

Released on Frame this month, Where They Create is a weighty hard backed publication born out of Photographer Paul Barbera’s blog of the same name. It offers a glimpse into the international design spaces of Fantastic Man, Olaf Breuning, Julie Verhoeven, Opening Ceremony and Matali Crasset to name a few. Still very much a side project squeezed into a hectic photography schedule, this self-professed labour of love, has grown organically from an ingrained fascination with the world, to a voluminous reference of creative working environments.

Barbera maintains another blog, entitled Love Lost, a sumptuously voyeuristic peek into the bedrooms and occasional panties of smoulderingly unconventional muses. Hunger for exploration bubbles over into most probably all of his artistic endeavours, shooting editorial for high-end glossies including Vogue Living, Jalouse, View on Colour, Bloom and Elle Decoration.

Barbera is an effusive combination; disarming, dyslexic and driven, belonging to the pre Y Generation, son of migrants, he understands the value of working hard. He began shooting for Marie Clare at 24 and has lived in Rome, Warsaw, Berlin, Singapore and Amsterdam. Maneuvering his way with ease through the exchange I was surprised to discover Barbera rarely gave interviews in person or posed for photographs, the curious had become the subject of curiosity.  

Martina Randles: So tell me, what was the appeal of the project, how did it come about, was it a natural evolution? 
Paul Barbera: I can't just walk into a studio, it’s a way of getting into peoples faces, photography is a by product more than anything. It started 20 years ago documenting my best friend in high school, painter, Dominic Wood, the whole family are painters, it began in his fathers studio and has been evolving ever since.  

Martina Randles: You’ve managed to cover a lot of ground, how do you decide on where to shoot? 
Paul Barbera: Scott McCleland loves Where They Create and will pull me into jobs where I can work on my projects, recently I shot two artists in Beijing and one in the Kennedy headquarters. I don't care where it is, if a job comes up I take it, its completely random I can't wait to go to Russia. I had this job in Thailand and I took four weeks off to shoot, then I struggled to find places in Bangkok.

Martina Randles: You’ve just been working in China and have recently moved to New York, how do they compare? 
Paul Barbera: New York feels like a third world city compared to China, the doors have opened and they might close again. I shot some stuff in Beijing and Shanghai, for Nike, they are trying to introduce women’s exercise to Chinese women but they're not allowed to sweat and they are all skinny anyway, it’s an uphill battle. I could make a book on New York there are so many spaces to shoot, and to dig up, it’s such an important city in the world.

Pages from the book Where They Create  

Martina Randles: What original and obscure places has Where They Create taken you to? 
Paul Barbera: The internet has changed everything I go to Bangkok, Shanghai - it’s not like all of sudden you enter another world, its difficult to find culturally original. I went to one of the Dutch colonies to shoot a very famous Curaçaoan artist; he was off his head totally drunk, I spent half a day with him I wasn't allowed to shoot. I get very restless when I don’t shoot anything, fortunately we ended up at a local surf beach, there was an old lady selling coke and little bits of food. She lived there with a little generator, painting her dreams and making little sculptures of aluminum foil, she couldn't understand why I was so interested in photographing her.   

Martina Randles: How important in terms of ‘bigger than you’ social development is your work? Would you like to go to say, Iraq to find creative’s? 
Paul Barbera: I'm a big fan of Poland and the Polish, I spent a summer in Warsaw and shot a Street Art Festival for a friend’s magazine Beast, there was no budget. The Polish went to Europe and realised that London isn't as great as they thought it would be, came home and bought there energy with them. In Amsterdam in particular you have this attitude that every Polish person is a crook and cheap laborer, because that’s what they are in Amsterdam. But actually there is so much going on there, I have out four or five spaces online and two made it into the book. I'm a fan of Poland. That’s my little bit, you change the landscape, but you’re right I’d love to go to Iraq, I’d love to go to Palestine, but I’d have to do it when stuff comes up, economically I can't afford to just take six months off.  

Martina Randles: What was the biggest change you encountered when switching to digital? Paul Barbera: My interaction socially up until digital was the camera, that was the way that I dealt with people in a social context. Now I shoot so much, my surroundings, in the blog and love lost that I don't do any private stuff. There was this supposed civilized weekend away with some Czech people that turned out to be a complete two day non-sleeping bender. One guy fell off a balcony and cracked his face open, it was pretty graphic, and I’d documented the whole sequence from the train ride until the morning. I couldn’t be bothered doing that now when I’m out with my friends, its quite a funny story.  

Martina Randles: What camera do you use? 
Paul Barbera: It’s a dialogue that’s not important, not relevant. You've got love your equipment, what it is that you're using, but it doesn't matter what that thing is. Years ago shooting a lot of ad work I was way too young; 25 and working on bigger than me ad campaigns. I was shooting above my weight - I spent 30 grand on camera kit and had four assistants. It was about bringing confidence to the shoot; the client was spending a lot of money. I was young creating an illusion of mirrors; I don't play that game anymore.

Where They Create, is available to buy from Frame and most good bookstores.
Paul Barbera shoots Fantastic Man, Amsterdam for Where They Create
Paul Barbera shoots Pandarosa, Berlin for Where They Create

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

How to survive Melbourne

Thank you Miss K for your email, it’s reassuring hearing from other ‘out of towners’ about their perception of Melbourne, I sense there are a few similarities of opinions, I too am struggling to find ‘the place’, the Cheers bar that keeps pulling me back, the club that I can’t resist forming bonds with to ensure I am treated with an air of familiarity and acceptance. Perhaps the non-existence of these places is what makes Melbourne unique or maybe the do exist and I am yet to discover then, or dare I say it, I’ve become too desensitised (coming from a bigger city or being slightly more worldly wise ‘ahem’ older) that I fail to appreciate everything I have uncovered thus far.

I have managed to wind up/stumble upon quite a few decent house parties, a particular highlight was a Winter themed party, with jumpers, fake snow, fires and ski suits, pretty much all visits have occurred randomly and have the result of probing, persevering and saying yes to unpredictable and on occasion uncomfortable situations. Melbourne is a place of great cafes and even better house parties, all of which require a great deal of smiling and work to infiltrate, even now my links to these worlds are at best tenuous. However there is a lot to be said for stamina, and momentum, I haven’t stopped speaking to people since I arrived no matter how much of a dick I’ve felt at times.

For information on how to find people to talk at, try here

1. Melbourne Art Openings This is a fantastic tool for free booze and art; pretty much most of my Wednesdays/Thursdays when I've been lost and looking for inspiration have come blossomed here. There are lots of cute, creatively dressed types at these events. You can even go it alone under the guise of art - most importantly, the booze is heavily discounted or FREE, a great social lubricant. Be careful of too many fizzy whites on an empty stomach.

2. The Thousands (Three Thousand for Melbourne) The Thousands are GREAT, slightly more user friendly and less fluro before the revamp; I’m slowly adjusting to the new design. The OUT section usually has better ideas on what one should be doing with there time, whether its music, art or fashion there is something to entice. The guys at Rightanglestudio are business savvy and are making the site work.

3. FESTIVALS There are an unbelievable amount of Melbourne based festivals to attend, volunteer - be involved in. The Australian World Music Expo (AWME), happens in November, I’ll helping the producers which is a great way to make connections. There are a ridiculous amount of events happening, there is an international film festival running now. The Wheeler Centre always has something interesting on.

I make myself go to as many places in Melbourne as possible, from shopping visits to obscure Savers to visiting well reviewed cheap eats in Footscray. It’s important to explore and find your own little spots. Okay so maybe (as you seem nice) I’ll share a few with you, certain places work at different days/times of the week, bars/spots have changeable vibes/crowds.

(i). Max out your area to suss out the best coffee shops, its an obvious one, yet imperative. I live just off Lygon so the best ones near me are Small Block, Each Peach, Sourdough and Greens if I’m looking for quantity. The Gelobar is tacky but nice, bar wise Eydies has great décor and friendly staff, feeling welcome is important. Shame but that’s the only bar I’ve really enjoyed near me, oh dear, perhaps I need to invest more time. Blackhearts and Sparrows - great for take out booze. To be honest I’m convinced there are some killer bars that I’m not cool enough to know about, with dancing and everyone being nice to each other whilst they go nuts. If anyone finds them…?

(ii). Smith Street, Northcote High Street, Sydney Road, Carlton, all these places you know already I can name specific bars, however I’ve not been blown away by any of them, half decent ones include, Gasometer, Joes Shoe Bar, Wesley Anne, Retreat, Old Post Office, Geralds Bar. In town, there are plenty of options, get the pack of playing/bar cards and ask around.

(iii). Take up an activity, Go-Go Dancing, Drawing Straws (life drawing), Choir, Vintage Fairs, anything that encourages interaction with humans is good. (iv) Club wise the is RGOB (Buffalo club), Anytime Place, Worker’s on a Monday, nights pulling the cool kids are Can’t Say and _____ (trying to find on facebook will update).

Basically I spend a lot of time reading, stalking, eavesdropping and drilling people for information, it could work for you too.

Slipping in disguised as a child ready to listen in on peoples conversations

Monday, 12 September 2011

~ Apollo Bay ~

Mirage magazine and AFM have been consuming all my writing juices.  For respite we decided to escape to the country/sea for the weekend. In the hills of Apollo Bay we observed seven rainbows, there was one that danced around the valley...