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By Zacha Rosen
May 20, 2012

3 Exhibitions

Tessellated watermelon, migrant landscapes and some dead things.
By Zacha Rosen
May 20, 2012

The Head On Photo Festival brings a collection of four photographers across the three main galleries at Gaffa. In Gallery One, The Alien in Our Midst combines the work of real-life partners Belinda Allen and Christopher Lawrie. Lawrie's section combines a selection from his History of SaltFrom Weavers to Wapstraws is a volume of family history caked in salt and the Insular Australia series has folio pages slowly and similarly ossifying — while The Land of Dreams series shows portraits of recent migrants juxtaposed with the skeletal ruins of bush houses. Their faces are by turns circumspect, calm, sad, cautious and confident.

Allen's History Tree lets a stunning series of trees push out from the pages of maps and rough reference books, laid out over poster size grids. For The alien in our midst … series of twinned photos, she takes a similar approach to Lawrie's Land of Dreams, mixing immigrant youths literally draped in printed images of the outback, with other landscapes behind. The results are mixed: The alien in our midst (Lake Eyre) shows a sky of seagulls flattened into a broken, sandy lakebed but some of the others don't lose their three-dimensional subjects enough against the flat landscape behind.

Gallery Two shows Christian Pearson's Conversations with the Land. Not all of his photo montages work, but those that do are fantastic. In We're all red in the middle, spots of rounded watermelons sit tessellated in boxes, green dots adrift on a broad, dusty red land, while The wind has been cuts together rusted shades of desert like a Pantone deck from nature: red, then milky, then bone-yellow sand.

In Gallery Three, Clare Weeks' Outside In has dead animals sitting against wallpaper, nonchalant as a collection of pensioners' china cups. Almost all of the animals have their heads out of frame, as though even in death they're trying to escape this domestic scrutiny. A curl of claws and paws suggests movement that's no longer on the cards, and only a crested pigeon stares back, dead and indignant.

Images We're all red in the middle and The wind has been by Christian Pearson.

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