To celebrate the launch of “Thirty Years of the Screaming Hand: A tribute to the artist Jim Phillips” opening tomorrow night at Sydney’s aMBUSH Gallery (and next week at Melbourne’s SoHigh Galley), our Australian correspondent, Damo, has teamed up with curator Eddie Zammit to bring you a selection of interviews with some of the Australian talent involved with this epic show.
“The Screaming Hand is a timeless illustration. The fact is, 30 years after Jim Phillips created it, it’s more popular than ever. The artists chosen reflect diverse backgrounds and prove that there is power in the most universally recognised skate symbol ever. For the Australian part of the show, I wanted to showcase how creative and innovative our country is.” – Eddie Zammit
To begin it seems right to introduce you to p1xels. p1xels has documented 20 artists documenting their creative process for the show.
For the uninitiated, p1xels is a Melbourne-based photographer whose subculture-specific photo documentation of the graffiti scene has spanned over seven years. She has worked with highly regarded local and international artists, documenting public aerosol art, as well as capturing its illegal side.
p1xels’ dark and moody compositions are an insight into her passion for exploring urban environments. It is apparent in her work that she has developed a specific style – look closely, and her lens angles, viewpoint and subject matter have a synergy with one another.
The past three years has seen p1xels travel to Atlanta, Berlin, London, New York and Tokyo to photograph artists and writers at work, and to investigate empty urban places. Locally she has captured the scene in Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.
When exploring, p1xels prefers to work by herself, but acknowledges it’s safer to travel in groups. She has investigated and shot in abandoned castles, churches, country clubs, hospitals, hotels, mental asylums, power stations, prisons, sheep stations, subways, towns, and tunnels, as well as other more uninhabited places.
Travel has allowed p1xels to achieve incredibly isolated and beautiful photography that provide a glimpse into a world she is fascinated with, and which would otherwise not be seen. Beyond abandoned locations, graffiti belongs at the heart of her work. In a medium where tags and pieces have only a short life span, her portfolio of images allows these works to live on, long after council buffing has removed any trace of them.
Damo: What’s your first memory of the Screaming Hand? Where does it take you back to?
p1xels: Wow, the image takes me back to Manly beach, I’m not a skater but would ride my bike along the beachfront with my friends to Keirle Park where they would skate and I would occasionally take photos, so days of sitting on the grass in the sunshine, good times.
Damo: What do you think the future may hold for such an iconic image?
p1xels: That’s just it, Jim Phillips created an icon – I’m sure it will evolve with time as it has such a strong following and reach. I just hope that in another 30 years I’m walking down the street and see the familiar blue hand looking back at me from someone’s board or t-shirt..
Damo: How does it feel to have documented the project?
p1xels: Humbling, I was fortunate to have had the idea accepted by Eddie Zammit when I suggested it to him a few months ago, initially I was going to capture just a small selection for him to use in promoting the show. I never expected that I would have had the opportunity to meet and work with 20 incredibly talented artists who all have connections in one way or another to the screaming hand. I am really proud of the work I have created and feel that in my own way I have been true to each artist and that Lush Productions wanted to use the images as a part of the exhibition & catalogue.
Damo: What was the most interesting story you heard from all the artist visits?
p1xels: There were so many but they are their stories, I value the trust between artist and photographer, so if you want to know more about this question would be better if you asked them directly!