Auckland Festival of Photography looks north to Japan
2014’s Auckland Festival of Photography (AFP) is turning to Japan for its key artist and some of its most prestigious exhibitions.
The annual festival, which runs for three weeks from 29 May to 20 June, will for the first time this year exhibit work by Japanese artists, photojournalists, as well as a touring exhibition of one of the world’s longest running competitions, the Nikon Photo Contest.
AFP director Julia Durkin says the opportunity to exclusively exhibit such work for the first time in New Zealand is a meaningful development, and cause for celebration. “This work comes to us direct from Tokyo, the home of international camera brands, digital imaging technology and photography. The opportunity to feature this work will expand the appeal of the festival, which has for the past decade grown audiences keen to celebrate photography as an accessible, international art form.
AFP produces an annual 24-hour ‘day in the life’ photography competition, Nikon Auckland Photo Day, and is a founding member of the Asia Pacific Photoforum. Ms Durkin, who was also a judge of Japan’s 2012-2013 Nikon Photo Contest, says AFP is keen to work with other members to build cultural bridges around the Asia Pacific.
“Currently Bangladesh, Cambodia, Thailand, China, Australia, South Korea, Guatemala and Colombia each have an annual or biennale photography festival. While Tokyo, Japan does not have such a festival, the AFP and Asia Pacific Photoforum members are keen to see one develop, especially given Japan’s leading contribution to photographic technology and its development as an accessible art form. This objective is part of the motivation for inviting Japanese artists and photographers, and major camera competitions, to exhibit at this year’s Auckland Festival of Photography.
Japanese performance artist Tatsumi Orimoto’s work, Art - Mama features himself and his ageing mother who suffers from alzheimers. The artist has agreed with the AFP to exclusively show his video works as part of the festival’s key themed “Memory” series of exhibitions this June. One of the works exploring dementia and ageing issues, Beethoven Mama was shown at Japan’s Mori Art Museum, and Australia’s Mosman Art Gallery.
Photojournalist, Rob Gilhooly (UK/Japan), worked for several years as a staff writer for The Japan Times, while developing his photojournalist skills. Suicide Forest, is a haunting collection of works shot over several months in the Aokigahara Jukai forest, near Mt Fuji. Each year more than 30,000 people in Japan commit suicide and Gilhooly’s work is a contemplative study that seeks to highlight and educate about the suicide deaths, which have a long tradition in Japan as part of its honour culture. Gilhooly went to the forest 25 times for the project, which will exclusively premiere in New Zealand as part of the AFP’s key themed series of "Memory" exhibitions.
With more than a million photographs being shared on the internet daily, photography is undergoing tremendous change. The Auckland Festival of Photography is delighted the worldwide Nikon Photo Contest exhibition will come to Auckland for the first time in 2014’s festival. “The annual competition celebrates its 34th anniversary last year,” says AFP director Julia Durkin. “Hosting this Nikon Photo Contest award-winners exhibition is a meaningful and celebratory achievement for the Auckland Festival of Photography,” she says.
The contest fosters a growing, global community of photographers creating images that stand apart through their creativity, their ability to move people and their capacity for communication. The Nikon Photo Contest is a forum that brings together people with a passion for photography and an active commitment to bettering their art. Here, photographers of all sorts can acknowledge each other, be stimulated by diverse points of view and thrive through competition. Since the first contest in 1969, more than 370,000 photographers from around the world have participated in the international event, submitting 1,460,000 photographic works. In 2012-2013’s contest alone, 22,752 photographers from 153 countries and regions submitted 99,339 images, the largest number of entries in the contest’s history.
Auckland Festival of Photography and Nikon share a belief in the power of the image to tell stories that cannot be told any other way. AFP director Julia Durkin says “The Nikon Photo Contest celebrates that belief in the power of the image. We are excited to be able to feature this prestigious international exhibition to the people of Auckland, and wider region.”