Tuesday, 21 March 2017


Don McCullin 
 

Don McCullin, title unknown to me, exact date unknown to me. I saw this picture in his retrospective at Arles in France last year, and found myself in front of it for eight days straight.


Unknown woman in a room, you whom I’ve seen through someone else’s mind and eyes, you whom I can’t forget – it is as if I knew you. It’s been a year, and when I close my eyes at night, I see you. I think myself into your world, one that has been and gone, and that remains. I can smell the room in which you stand – old, damp, tired; it has seen a lot and has survived; it bears all the signs of a fighter; look, there, the crumbling and tumbling wall sighs under the weight of the role of the witness; I can see it breathing, heavy, in and out (wait, are you breathing in sync, such as lovers might in the most intimate of unconscious gestures?) – cold old stone mustering against itself to lend you, woman, something known to lean on.

Is this your home? You belong, and yet you don’t. You are there, and still you aren’t. Your face, like that of the stone, bears legacy and weight of war. Not hopeless for it lives, but it is marked by a great melancholy. You are made made up – for the photographer’s visit? Your hair combed back, the skirt, the shining shoe. These shoes – whom are they shining for; a love, the stranger’s presence, a child? Who shined them? Something tells me it was you. Your gaze is warm and distant both, there and here but gone. Unknown woman in a room who burns behind my retina – what have you seen?

To your left wrist clings a watch, marker of time and death, alien and dislocated, it seems beyond your era; from now, not from then. Its imminence seems double-fold; did an unknown future drop it into the scene while no one cared to look, and what is its role against your skin? Your melancholy and your arms, the way they hold each other, remind of Picasso’s Woman with folded arms, 1902, Blue Period. Have your eyes read this work of art? Your scorny legs so close and straight – they make me feel an absence stronger still.

You, unknown woman in a room, I hear the sound of yet another clock, its ticking as untried as the silent presence of your watch. Together they count down to death, every tik one step closer to wet earth. But wait, I hear distant children too, some commotion in the hallway maybe, close but muffled. The tiny flat is one of many; crammed and modest, but still a sacred cave; your lover, after all.

The table you stand near to – it’s ever so telling! One setting only, either done or waiting to feed; either hastily shoved aside for the outsider’s visit, or waiting to be used, once he has left. Who is it for; you, a child, a friend, a lover? Are you alone, are you together? Are you in waiting, are you in mourning? Did someone die, did many die? One thing I know – you and the wall, you both have seen. You share a striking patience, and the look of knowing.

What are those coats or clothes behind you, hanging? Dark, like deep wraps, like ghosts, are they another marker of loss, or does it only seem that way to me?

Everything around you, unknown woman in a room, is in waiting. Time stands silently still, and yet the being-there of your future- watch is one of utmost urgency. The past, the present, the future – all of them are written here, and none. Past and future in the present, present and future in the past…and so it goes. Is it for them that the table is dressed?

And then there’s this, the greatest and perhaps most easily overlooked: the repetition. So perfect, so aligned that only visible when studied for long and scrutinised with an eye that can’t let off – there is one form that weaves throughout the scene of you like the ceaseless song of a cricket in high heat; the V. Can you see it? Here it is, in the paper ineffably clothing the wall. Here it is, in the front most part of the tablecloth, protruding out to us; a V. Here, lopsided, a trod mark on the floor. Here it is, in the bits of walldress eaten by time. Here it is, like body ornament layered around your legs; your veins. And here, finally, in your face, both ways. One V down, one V up. The strange man that came to make your picture – his eye is honest, tender and compassionate. He recognised the tired stone, the V, and you.

The scene before our eyes is naked as the house, signed of loss and scarcity and grief, but also signed of hope, strength and humanity. We’re given clues but not too many. Something is suggested but leaves me wanting more; burns your face into my half-sleep. In the dark I lie and see you leaning with the wall, quietly breathing in sync, in and out, through time and time and time. I’m IN your photograph, me and the present, in presence of history. I think I smell a faint whiff of burnt coal. The picture informs but more, it makes me feel. What is denoted is an unfixed state, a questionmark, a story told and left untold.

You, unknown woman with the wall, are insignia of the nature of story - written and lost somehow, and found again. Right here then lie offering and agony of stories from and in and with the world: forever fragmented, always unearthed and lost in translation.

You, unnamed woman with the wall, your life was real, you mattered. Through the eyes of the stranger that connect us, I am assumed the ultimate gift: I cannot know you, but I think I know you now. Your image burns.





Thursday, 9 March 2017



Perimeter is thrilled to continue its new programming initiative for 2017: Perimeter Talks. Taking place approximately once a month on a Sunday afternoon, the series features lectures, panel discussions and more casual in-conversations with publishers, artists, curators, designers, writers and editors. The talks explore and address various themes and issues relating to contemporary photographic, art and design publishing – helping demystify, challenge and offer insight into publishing as a medium and a practice.

Our second talk for 2017 features Melbourne-based German photographer Katrin Koenning, whose debut book Astres Noir (Chose Commune, Paris) – which drew upon images that Koenning and Bangladeshi photographer Sarker Protick had made for their Instagram feeds – went on to become an international phenomenon, making the final shortlist of the prestigious 2016 Paris Photo-Aperture Photo Book Award and winning the 2016 Australian Photobook of the Year Award. The talk will explore the making of the project, Koenning's wider practice and the bleed between Instagram and more traditional photographic contexts.

Where: Perimeter Books, 748 High Street, Thornbury. When: Sunday March 12, 3pm-4pm. Seating strictly limited. RSVP essential (hello@perimeterbooks.com). $5 donation on the door.

Saturday, 4 March 2017




NEW CITIZENS
Right now, no matter where we are, we find ourselves in a fireball of political confusion that sees us descending rapidly into liberal authoritarianism, fascism and border-euphoria, and in which humanism is under grave threat. It seems all the more important then to find and draw on what connects us. United in a new and bottomless placelessness (whether physical, metaphorical or virtual), our mechanisms of exclusion and our judgement of each other are still so fiercely place-attached. In this instalment of the festival, following on from examining Revelations, we are concerned with expanded and creative thinking around notions of New Citizen. We ask: who are we as humans? How did we come to be this way, where are we headed? What does it mean to be participant of an utterly computerised 21st Century that pulls us ever closer together, yet paradoxically, even further apart? In this era, our collective knowledge is richer than it ever was, yet we’ve lost sight of ourselves. Are we traversing an ocean of possibility while sinking under our own weight? In a world where the borders of real and imagined are incessantly blurring yet sharper than ever defined, is the very concept of belonging itself drifting away from the physical realm into another? Perhaps New Citizen is the individual we ought to strive to be. As a species wandering dangerously close to the edge of itself, New Citizen cannot be understood as a label or fixed term. New Citizen encourages: a politic of transformation and a thinking of indefiniteness of what describes identity and ultimately us as humans; a humanity of insiders concerned about the state of a distressed world in which politicisation of space and violent legacy of white dominance have long caused the mentioned to require new balance. It is about us as a society, addressing the collective state of urgency in which we find ourselves. In this sense, New Citizen advocates a need of breaking out, of acting, of mobilising towards a new and shared horizon. The New Citizen is global more than ever, a cosmopolite; a human being most of all who always comes from story. We are calling for the artist-communicator equipped with the power of language to show us a voice of dissent, challenging and foraging against the very things that are made by systems in power to keep us divided. We ask for your views of a New Citizen that far extend the conventional understandings of its ‘origin-definition’ which is confined to state and city and town; we ask you to think citizen as a anywhere-human, beyond entitlement, nationality or allegiance to government. Show us counter-language; a new way of navigating what it means to be alive and to live in a (post)capitalist, climate-changed 21st Century world. Whatever your photographic approach may be, show us new dialogues and new imaginaries. We ask: who or what are we as image-makers reflecting on the world in which we live? Where are our stories of unmapping, our stories of stories? How do we navigate this world of image and this world of World as people drawing from the toolset of communication? What is it like to be, now, as New Citizen in this, our time? What are our responsibilities, collectively and individually, to the world and to each other, in and towards a change of course? And what kind of boat can carry us together into the world of World that needs us less than ever?     -   Katrin Koenning



 
 
'With her series entitled 'Indefinitely', Katrin Koenning invites us to wander through a universe that is 'decardinalised', wandering in such a way as to resist static vision and spatiotemporal points of reference. These disorientating effects plunge us into a confusion between day and night, a confusion of seasons, a confusion between the world of humans and animals, a consufion between the world of the dead and the living. The imaginary world becomes immense, just as the vast expanse of salt water that washes over the globe is immense, and we are no longer therefore faced with images, but instead with images of the mind.' - Jerome Montagne