Head On Festival back for 2021
Jewish artists

Head On Festival back for 2021

Head On Photo Festival is back for 2021 featuring beautiful, haunting and inspiring imagery. It’s a jam-packed program with spectacular outdoor exhibitions throughout Sydney.

  • Quarantine in Queens
    Quarantine in Queens
  • Roger the Rat
    Roger the Rat
  • COVID-19 Metaphors
    COVID-19 Metaphors

The Head On Foundation believes that all photo-artists need a chance to show their work and in their words, “every picture has a story to tell”. Which is why it’s so exciting that the festival is back for 2021. Offering a bridge between Australia and international photographic markets, Head On seeks to raise awareness of important issues through photography.

Important issues like COVID for example, which is what Israeli photographer Anat Icar Shoham focuses on in her work, COVID-19 Metaphors.

Shoham was inspired by the photogenic drawings of botanical samples created by William Henry Fox Talbot, a forefather of photography. Rather than taking photos using a camera, Shoham uses scanning to create the images, with the scanner light flashing to illuminate plant samples. Each scan uproots the objects, presenting them as fragments, floating in a black emptiness. This alludes to the state of isolation, social remoteness, and trauma many have faced over the past two years.

“At the same time, it is a personal character project, which reflects my subjective view of reality,” she said. “It is my way of expressing my thoughts and feelings about the current challenging situation creatively. It tries to understand how the virus is spread and affects us and demystify it by making it visible.”

It gives a form to the invisible through a metaphor to deal with it easier in an action that highlights the healing power of photography and its ability to help us experience things and situations.

Regarding the scanning process, Shoham says she looks for the exceptional in the ordinary, saying the use of a scanner transforms reality. “It creates a unique black space where everything seems to float, and mysterious things happen. An unknown world emerges through the darkness that fascinates us,” she said. “The dark space also leads us from the microcosm to the macrocosm, connecting life with a philosophical mood. In many cases, the shape, the size, and the abstraction of the depicted elements create the illusion of pictures from outer space. So, the metaphorical meaning of the work becomes multilevel, as it is open to more than one interpretation.”

Shoham is joined by other Jewish artists including Neil Kramer from the USA with his work Quarantine in Queens.

“In March 2020, my neighbourhood of Queens, New York, became the epicentre of the COVID-19 outbreak. Through unusual circumstances, I found myself living in my two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment with my 86-year-old mother from Florida and my ex-wife from Los Angeles,” he said. “We couldn’t go out to shop for food, and it seemed like I couldn’t even take a bath without my mother or my ex-wife walking in on me.
I documented our confinement using a good dose of humour. It started as a temporary project and lasted an entire year. Quarantine in Queens is a personal commentary on caregiving, love, and family responsibility. What started as a personal Instagram series has gone viral worldwide.”

Roger Ballen from South Africa has been referred to as one of the most influential and important photographic artists of the 21st century. Ballen will be exhibiting his work Roger the Rat, exploring the human psyche and forces that make us who we are, including those we repress and never celebrate.

In the words of Roger the Rat himself, “there is little hope of a better world until humanity comes to terms with the unpleasant fact that repression and fear are ultimately the masters of their destiny.”

Founder, Creative Director and Lead Curator of Head On Photo Festival, Moshe Rosenzveig OAM is excited about bringing a complete festival to life.

“It feels incredible to deliver a complete festival program for people to visit after the past couple of years. We have an extensive program of outdoor exhibitions at Bondi Beach and Paddington Reservoir Gardens, allowing everyone to see great photography from around the world in a COVID-safe environment,” he said. “It’s also terrific for our team to reconnect after months of online meetings and a completely-online festival (a world first) we delivered last year.”

I’m in awe at the incredible turn-around over the last few months from our dire COVID situation and am very thankful that Head On Photo Festival is a part of the post-lockdown celebration.

Shoham certainly appreciates the opportunity to exhibit her work. “There is symbolism in presenting my exhibition at the end of the extended lockdown in Australia,” she said. “The open space at Bondi Beach, which symbolizes freedom, reflects a hope of the pandemic situation.

Head On Photo Festival also features Glen Lockitch from Sydney, Paula Bronstein from the USA and Oded Wagenstein from Israel.

As well as the exhibiting artists, Head On Photo Festival also includes events including talks, workshops and panels. For more information and to view the program, visit the Head On website.


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