18
Jul
13

Openings: ‘John Cato Retrospective’ / Erika Diettes ‘Sudarios (Shrouds)’ at the Ballarat International Foto Biennale

Opening date: 17th August 2013
BiFB dates: 17th August – 15th September 2013

Venue: The Mining Exchange, 12 Lydiard Street North, Ballarat
Opening hours: 9am – 5pm daily

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I have the great honour of being guest speaker at the John Cato Retrospective and book launch at the Ballarat International Foto Biennale on the 17th August, 2013. My essay … And His Forms Were Without Number from the 2002 retrospective I co-curated at the Photographers Gallery, has been included in the book. John is one of the most underrated but influential artists in the history of Australian photography and it is wonderful that a book is being published about his work. Finally, the recognition he so strongly deserves.

I have also written the catalogue essay for another core program, Erika Diettes Sudarios (Shrouds) that also opens on the same day. This was one of the most complex writing assignments that I have undertaken for the subject matter is very difficult and I wanted to do the work justice. I will publish the essay in an upcoming posting. The artist is flying over from Colombia for the opening so it will be great to meet her.

I hope you can make the trip to Ballarat for these important events!

Marcus

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John Cato Retrospective opening and book launch invite
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John Cato Retrospective


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“The meeting of land and sea has always held a mystic fascination for me. Through my camera, my experience of it has been heightened, my awareness of its wonder deepened. Above all, I remember its clamourous silence.”

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John Cato 1976

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“John Cato was one of the first photographers in Australia to consider the lyrical and poetic aspects of landscape and to create extended series of photographic essays. He wanted to ‘explore the elements of landscape’ and gave himself 10 years to complete his study, two years for each of the five elements. His practice would take him into the desert for extended periods of time. He would spend 40 days, seeing, observing and waiting for the perfect conditions for the shot, on one occasion exposing 3 rolls of film and being satisfied enough to use only 11 photographs from them. These powerful images, free of manipulation, capture the essential qualities of natural elements and indeed how John Cato saw the world.

This exhibition of work from 1971-1991 honours the achievement of John Cato as mentor and as teacher. It pays homage to his significant contribution of photography in Australia. John Cato was born in Hobart, Tasmania in 1926. From the age of 12 years he was apprenticed to his father the photographer Jack Cato. John Cato had been a press photographer with the Argus newspaper and a commercial photographer in partnership with Athol Shmith for 20 years before experiencing ‘a kind of menopause’. He walked away from a successful career, quietly burned all his commercial work and became an educator and fine art photographer. Cato was involved in the foundation years of the Photography Studies College, still in South Melbourne, and a lecturer there and at Prahran College of Advanced Education becoming Department Head in 1979 until he retired in 1991 by which time it was called Victoria College. He felt ‘duty bound’ to hand on his experience. He loved teaching and he was a much-loved teacher. Many of his past students are now highly regarded photographers, whilst others hold important positions in universities and art institutions around Australia.

Cato exhibited nationally and internationally in solo and group exhibitions and his work is featured in many public collections, including the National Gallery of Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria and the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris.”

Text from the Ballarat International Foto Biennale core special guide.

The exhibition is curated by Paul Cox.

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John Cato (1926 - 2011) 'Tree, a journey #1' from the 'Tree, a journey' series 1971-73

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John Cato (1926 – 2011)
Tree, a journey #1

from the Tree, a journey series 1971-73
Gelatin silver photograph
45.3 x 35.1 cm

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John Cato (1926 - 2011) 'Tree, a journey #18' from the 'Tree, a journey' series 1971-73

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John Cato (1926 – 2011)
Tree, a journey #18

from the Tree, a journey series 1971-73
Gelatin silver photograph
45.3 x 35.1 cm

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John Cato (1926 - 2011) 'Double concerto #13' from the 'Double Concerto' series 1985-91

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John Cato (1926 – 2011)
Double concerto #13
from the Double Concerto series 1985-91
Gelatin silver photograph
45.5 x 32.8 cm

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Erika Diettes Sudarios (Shrouds)

“Many times, with my camera, I have been a witness of the moment when people have to close their eyes as they recall the event which divided their life into two parts. My decision to create Sudarios (Shrouds) comes from unanswered questions that came out of my pervious series Silencios (Silences), which dealt with survivors of the Second World War who live in Colombia. Similarities are also to be found in Río Abajo (Drifting Away), a series which focuses on the victims of forced disappearance, and A Punta de Sangre (By Force of Blood), a series in which I examine the idea of the search for the bodies of the disappeared by their families, who, in the midst of despair, find a ray of hope in the vultures that might lead them to the remains of their loved ones. To date, I have received the testimonies of more than 300 victims of the violence in Colombia. They have confided intimacies of this violence to me: not only its harrowing details, but the way they rebuild their lives and keep going despite what they have suffered.

The women who serve as the models in Sudarios were first-hand witnesses of acts of horror. The intention of the series is to enable the spectator to observe the moment when these women close their eyes, with no other way to communicate the horror that they witnessed and the intensity of the sorrow they were subjected to. They were forced to feel on their own flesh, or in front of their own eyes, that there is no difference between man and the most savage beasts of nature; but that we are the only species capable of mass murder and the only ones who do not adapt to our own kind (N. Timbergen, 1968). I am convinced that this series speaks of something that is timeless, universal and infinite.

Erika Diettes is a visual artist who lives and works in Bogotá. Her work explores the problems of memory, sorrow, absence and death. She has a Masters in Anthropology from the Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá, with a major in photographic production, and a degree in Social Communication from the Pontificia Universidad de Bogotá.”

Text from the Ballarat International Foto Biennale core special guide.

Erika Diettes website

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Erika Diettes. 'Untitled' 2011 from the series 'Sudarios (Shrouds)'

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Erika Diettes
Untitled
2011
from the series Sudarios (Shrouds)
Digital black and white photograph printed on silk
2.28 x 1.34 m
© Erika Diettes

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Erika Diettes. 'Untitled' 2011 from the series 'Sudarios (Shrouds)'

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Erika Diettes
Untitled
2011
from the series Sudarios (Shrouds)
Digital black and white photograph printed on silk
2.28 x 1.34 m
© Erika Diettes

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Installation photograph of Erika Diettes Sudarios (Shrouds) at Iglesia de Chinquinquirá (La Chinca). Santa Fe de Antioquia [COL] December 5-9, 2012

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Installation photograph of Erika Diettes Sudarios (Shrouds) at Iglesia de Chinquinquirá (La Chinca). Santa Fe de Antioquia [COL] December 5-9, 2012

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Installation photographs of Erika Diettes Sudarios (Shrouds) at Iglesia de Chinquinquirá (La Chinca). Santa Fe de Antioquia [COL] December 5-9, 2012 © Erika Diettes

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Installation photograph of Erika Diettes Sudarios (Shrouds) at Ex Teresa Arte Actual. México D.F. [MEX] May-Jun, 2012

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Installation photograph of Erika Diettes Sudarios (Shrouds) at Ex Teresa Arte Actual. México D.F. [MEX] May-Jun, 2012 © Erika Diettes

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Installation photograph of Erika Diettes Sudarios (Shrouds) at Trinity Episcopal Church. Houston TX [USA] Feb-Apr 2012

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Installation photograph of Erika Diettes Sudarios (Shrouds) at Trinity Episcopal Church. Houston TX [USA] Feb-Apr 2012 © Erika Diettes

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Ballarat International Foto Biennale
Office: upstairs at the Mining Exchange, 12 Lydiard Street North, Ballarat.
Postal address: PO Box 41 Ballarat, Vic 3353 Australia
Telephone: + 61 3 5331 4833
Email: info[at]ballaratfoto.org

Ballarat International Foto Biennale website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes the Art Blart blog which reviews exhibitions in Melbourne, Australia and posts exhibitions from around the world. He has a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne and is currently studying a Master of Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne.

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