There aren’t too many photographers who I would deem a major influence. I draw most of my inspiration not from peers of music and /or street photography, but of visceral artists who preach, incite and illicit all that is carnal within the human (and not so human) psyche.
H.R. Giger has been one such artist whose works I have studied and digested since I was gifted one of his books for my 18th birthday. It changed my life. It literally did.
Joel-Peter Witkin came into my mindset in the mid to late nineties. His works bordered on the taboo and utterly unbelievable and the more extreme the reaction he would generate, the closer my interest and fascination in his work grew.
Yet as much of a fan as I was, I had absolutely no idea Mr Witkin would be exhibiting in Australia if it were not for a friend’s Facebook post of her and the artist in a photograph together.
My jaw dropped and before I could pick it up and put it back in its place, I began doing research on where the exhibition would be held.
A few frantic minutes later and all the info I needed had been collated.
In his first ever Australian exhibition, Joel-Peter Witkin would be exhibiting from August 3 until August 25 at the William More Galleries in Richmond. A suburb or two away from me.
I had obviously missed the opening night and the chance to meet the artist, but at the very least I would see his show.
Again via Facebook I found out about an artist talk that was to be held at the National Gallery Of Victoria. Of course the event had long sold out so it would require the pulling of several strings if I was to be there. Even with my girlfriend’s sister an employee of the gallery, we couldn’t get access to the event.
Like hell we were not to be let in. We arrived at the Gallery early and mingled within the current Bill Henson exhibition. Joel-Peter was right next door. I told the girlfriend to just act like we totally belong and by the time the artist talk was to begin, we were already seated and ready for the experience! Sometimes, you just gotta do what needs to be done hey?
Unfortunately, I did not have my camera with me so the resultant photos had to be compiled with my trusty iPhone.
Joel-Peter Witkin discussed several of his works to a very receptive and large crowd. It was a fascinating insight into several pieces which sometimes need to be defined and explained to be believed. His manipulation of cadavers and the living in concert to create amazing imagery is as captivating as it is spellbinding. And, oh so disturbing!
The exhibition entitled ‘Joel-Peter Within Photographs 1980-2016‘ is taking place at the William Mora Galleries. Unfortunately the gallery has bizarre hours of only being open between 10am and 4pm between Wednesday and Friday so it is very difficult to get to without having to take a day off from work (!)
Still, it is Joel-Peter Witkin so small sacrifices were made!