Sunday, October 19, 2008

Is it Art?

I have been taking photos for a living since the mid 70's. Before that I had the odd photo published in school magazines and some specialist sport publications, but mostly the subject material was the human face, as this is always what has interested me. So it was really photos of family and friends, pretty much the same as everyone else. When I was getting paid for doing the job, it seemed so easy and natural, I used to say it sure beat work. The more good photos I could take, mostly portraits of children, the more I got paid. As time has gone on, I have done other subjects, but never seem to get the 'difference' between my photos and everyone else's. So maybe I am not a photographer at all, just a 'people organiser'. This means really that the 'art' part of it is getting people in the right place with the right expressions rather than the finished product itself. Though I still believe the human face is the greatest of all works of art, and I am just recording what is there. A recorder. A documenter. There must be some other word for it.
The first photo by Peter Peryer I became aware of was "Dead Steer". He has come across a swollen corpse of a black and white cattle beast somewhere on a road side and took a photo of it. It sort of became famous because someone tried to stop it being published in Europe, as the fear was it would tarnish New Zealand's clean green image, or something. (No mention was made of the thousands of possums, slow hedgehogs and rabbits that daily feed the hawks on our roads around here!).
At Central Stories on Friday night, Peter Peryer launched his latest book. He has had several launches around the country, and this one was probably the smallest, but it was a launch all the same.
This guy is so good that he really challenges me to examine what I have been doing all these years. While I have been trying to get the 'photo that sells', he has photographed what he likes, and makes it work.
The Henderson Arts Trust Residency is a trust based here in Alexandra, that invites Artistic people to stay in Henderson House for a year. They don't have to do anything while they are there, you can't apply to get in, you are selected, and it is a great system. Peter Peryer is the latest resident, and we are very pleased to have him.
The above photo is of Martin Haanen, from the Henderson Arts Trust, Peter Peryer holding his new book, and Brian Patrick, the Director of Central Stories.
Get the book. It is Art.

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