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‘Alpha Beta Gamma’ – p1xels

Renowned Melbourne photographer, p1xels, is bringing an experiential Chernobyl showcase to a secret Melbourne location August 9 – 16 2019.
The walk-through exhibition, ‘Alpha Beta Gamma’ will uncover the nuclear ruins, through raw photography, iconic dodgem cars, a bespoke bar and immersive sound show.

The nuclear explosion that was the Chernobyl disaster of 1986, during the height of the Cold War, saw more than 53,000 people evacuated from within a 30km radius of the plant. Today, this exclusion zone is still one of the most radioactively contaminated areas in the world, with scientists predicting it will remain uninhabitable for 20,000 years.

p1xels’ work focuses on how nature is working to reclaim the once barren town, which the UN Chernobyl Forum described has “paradoxically become a unique sanctuary for
biodiversity.”

p1xels kindly spoked to us in the lead up to her exhibition:

What was the motivation behind visiting Chernobyl?
 
Chernobyl is one of, if not the largest abandoned human areas in the world. I have been exploring buildings that have been left in ruin by way of damage or, like Pripyat, due to a man made disaster. My visit was locked in in February after almost a year’s worth of planning, to go with the right people who understood what I wanted to get out of the visit.

What was the main thing you wanted to capture and why?
 
I was interested in the city, Pripyat, not the nuclear power station. I wondered what happens to a place when man leaves it alone for thirty years, structurally and also how plant life changes the landscape. That was one of the reasons for visiting in the summer. Much of the time we were pushing through the green dense overgrown jungle and all of a sudden a building would appear. There was a village I visited where we walked for ages to find houses and then a gap and more houses, realising that the main road through the village was now a mass of vines and small trees that had broken through the road.
 
One of the people who connected me to my guides runs a not-for-profit organisation, ‘The Clean Futures Fund’ and they work with the animals who live within the zone. I wanted to meet all of the animals, the dogs, the cats, but most of all Simon the Fox. We looked everywhere for Simon, but due to the heat he was nowhere to be found. I’d love to go back to meet him one day but on the other hand I like that all animals are wild in the zone. They do what they want and are not influenced by humans.


What was the most surprising aspect of the trip to Chernobyl?
 
How big Pripyat was, but how well planned and accessible it was for the residents. Multiple schools, gymnasiums, medical facilities, cinemas, Pripyat had it all!
 
What was the most confronting element of the expedition?
 
Being locked inside the accommodation overnight, Its a safety precaution but its strange how the psychological effect of being locked in a cage and not able to go anywhere with only the dull ‘bip bip bip’ of the geiger counter around you.

How do you respond to comments recently in the media that people currently travelling to Chernobyl are cashing in on others misfortune, and using it to boost their social media status? 
 
My position is that I love abandoned places, there is a stillness there for me and that stillness allows me to appreciate my life, the opportunities I have created, and that there are people who aren’t in a position to travel to some of the places I’ve visited or not here anymore who aren’t able to explore and see places like Pripyat. 

I can assure you I was considerate in every way while visiting Pripyat and I felt first hand the sadness in a city with so much potential and futuristic forward thinking planning to have come to such an unfortunate end.

I have received positive feedback on my images and the visit so I guess that there will always be opposing opinions but Pripyat is such a beautiful place that I feel it needs to be shared. My trip was exciting and beautiful and one that I’ll never forget. 

What do you hope the viewer takes away from the exhibition?
 
An appreciation of the images on show, the time money and effort I made to bring them into the public eye and the reality that the evacuation of 116000 people from their homes, not being able to return and leaving all their worldly possessions behind impacted so many and they are remembered through the generous guides who escort tourists through Pripyat and what the city looks like, not what has been seen on a TV show.

What’s next for p1xels?
 
I would love to be invited to photograph some of Melbourne’s abandoned spaces, I have a little list that I am hoping opportunities come up from through this exhibition. I’m rarely without my camera so I will continue to work with the incredibly talented artists and writers who invite me to work on their projects, travel wise I’ll be local to Australia. 2020 however has a number of international opportunities on the cards!

Alpha Beta Gamma is a free event and will open to the public 6pm Friday August 9 until
Friday August 16. The location will be revealed 24 hours prior to the exhibition over at @p1xels

Q&A with LING

Born in New Zealand and raised on Melbourne’s Hurstbridge line, Ling is a multi-faceted artist based in Melbourne’s infamous Everfresh Studio. With a background in stylised lettering and graffiti, Ling is also well known for his 80’s and 90’s pop culture pieces, littering the streets of Melbourne and beyond, pushing those who come in contact with the pieces to reminisce of days gone by.

Having shot to international notoriety through his “Allure of Gold” project, taking everyday items like trains and cars that have been left to degrade and painting them gold, giving them the illusion of value once again, Ling is now pushing things even harder. Whilst on the hunt for a holy grail gold piece – ‘I noticed an abandoned fighter jet at Santorini airport…’– Ling has started working on far more diverse projects, pushing the canvas-based boundaries of portraiture and abstract work. A member of Melbourne’s ID crew, Ling is no stranger to collaboration, and is as familiar working alone as he is taking part in full scale productions, including most recently at Denmark’s Roskilde festival.


Photo: LING

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A few questions with Scott Albrecht

Last time I saw Scott, we were playing ping pong at The Marcy Project in Brooklyn.  Sadly for me, he beat me in a best of 7.  It still stings a bit.  I mention it here as a form of therapy I think.  Anyway, I’m catching up with him now as his two person show with Mary Iverson called ‘Correspondence’ has just opened at Andenken in Amsterdam on November 11th.

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‘FACING DECONSTRUCTION’ by Unwell Bunny

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‘FACING DECONSTRUCTION’ by Unwell Bunny is somewhat of a self-portrait for Unwell Bunny otherwise known as Ed Bechervaise. It represents a point of reflection both on himself and the urban art movement he has a lengthy relationship with. Captured are faces of Ed’s contemporaries, mentors, figure heads and the new breed of an independent disestablishment art movement.

‘FACING DECONSTRUCTION’ opens at Backwoods Gallery on October 20th from 6pm. Visit the exhibition page for more information. In the lead up to the show, Ed sat down with Damo….

Damo: We’ve finally managed to actually speak in person! Could we just start with who is ‘Unwell Bunny’ and how do you describe your current style?

Unwell Bunny: Unwell Bunny is kind of like my second artistic incarnation; an incarnation of Ed Bechervaise and my first graffiti name in Adelaide that I ran for about seven years. Moving to Melbourne I felt the need to reemerge in a slightly different form and Unwell Bunny was the reemergence. It came from a comic book that I did very early on in about 2002 or 2003 whilst I was actually witnessing the Melbourne street art boom happening. I had not quite ten years’ graffiti heritage and the street art boom was just completely new and I’d never experienced anything like that before. So, Unwell Bunny is the reincarnation of my graffiti past in a new form which has gone on to resemble urban contemporary art -giving me another sphere to project myself beyond my own name.

This allows the work to have secondary perspective on things and that works quite well for me. Keeping my name as a part of the linkage to my artistic practice with Unwell Bunny being an easier vehicle to move forward with.

Face one 700 x 600
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‘Content by the Kilo’ – Callum Preston

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‘Content by the Kilo’ is Callum Preston’s first venture north to exhibit artworks from his home town of Melbourne, with Church Brisbane being the perfect venue considering his history creative visual work in the music industry.

The artworks are a collection of what he calls ” fast and loose” butchers shop signs, the kind of thing you would have seen as a kid while shopping with a parent, proclaiming the finest cuts, the cheapest prices or the freshest produce. Big bold and eye catching, from a time before social media, you wanted to say something, you wrote it down and put a splash of neon around it.

Callum sat down with Damo over at Everfresh Studios to have a yarn about his show and what else is happening in his world.

Damo: Thanks for taking the time to hang out today. Can you introduce yourself and talk about your various artistic practices?

Callum: My name is Callum Preston I am based out of Everfresh Studios in Collingwood (Melbourne, Australia). I’ve been part of Everfresh since around 2004/2005 when I was a lot younger. I’m currently 33 and I’m a full-time… I don’t really have a full-time title but I’m sort of a full-time artist / designer / sculptor. It’s kind of very blurry; basically I’ll have a go at anything. That’s sort of my motto. I have just come to accept that I don’t really like the ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ phrase. I think it’s not as simple as that, it’s more that will do a lot of things to the best of my ability and then I have to decide whether I think that’s an acceptable quality. I’m sort of still finding my feet in all elements of my practice but I really am enjoying myself.

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‘Lateralisation’ – Liam Snootle

L A T E R AL I S AT I OИ
noun
[lat-er-uh-luh-zey-shuhn]
The functional specialisation of the brain with some skills, such as analytical and mathematical occurring primarily in the left hemisphere and others, such as perception of visual and spatial relationships occurring primarily on the right.

Liam Snootle presents new paintings that encourage an internal dialogue by stimulating the viewer’s lateralisation.

VNA: It’s been 12 months since we last spoke, what has been happening in your world?
LS: Yes, well if I’d said it’d gone quickly I’d be lying. At the time of my last show we were blessed with the very early arrival of our first child, little George. He had a pretty hectic first few months, I think it was 137 days in the hospital but now he is home and doing amazingly well, such a happy and inspiring person.

Liam_Snootle_31082017_038_08
Photo: Nik Epifanidis

VNA: How has the birth of your son changed the way you look at things? Has it changed your artistic practice at all?
LS: I’d have to say it has completely changed me, priorities have been totally reworked. I struggled to find time to paint but I’m in such a great space at the moment, after a really tough time and I’d like to think this newfound optimism and inspiration is reflected in my latest body of work which has come together nicely.

Liam_Snootle_31082017_050_12
Photo: Nik Epifanidis

VNA: Tell us a little about ‘Lateralisation’. There is often a lot in the name of a show, why did you go down the ‘Lateralisation’ path?
LS: Lateralisation is the theory that people have a tendency to use different hemispheres of their brains in different ways, a preference of one over the other, mathematical/analytical on one and creativity on the other. I’ve always felt I did both of these naturally and these paintings are my attempt a creating an environment where the viewer was forced to get both hemispheres working in unison.

VNA: What is the make up of the show? Is there a piece you are particularly proud of?
LS: Most of the paintings are diptychs of colour blocks with a black and white dynamic geometric expression. I’m hoping that the two halves complement one another. I’m fond of all of them but there is a personal favourite that I’m hoping stays unsold (they probably all will).

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Photo: Nik Epifanidis

VNA: What do you hope people will take away from the show? What messages (if any) are you trying to convey to your viewers?
LS: I’m hoping that people that usually walk away from contemporary art saying “I don’t get it” might have an awakening.

VNA: If you could collaborate with anyone, who would you choose and why?
LS: I’ve got a soundtrack that plays during the show which was designed and recorded by my brother, Dylan. He’s an amazing singer, songwriter and guitarist and I guess this was our first art/music collaboration. It’s something I’d love to build upon for future projects.

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Photo: Nik Epifanidis

VNA: When we last spoke, you commented on the generational gap between you and your students ever increasing and your goal is to make art full time. How is that journey coming along?
LS: Oh yeah that gap is getting wider and wider, they’ve just made me realise that cool music is now called Dad Rock and that my preference for double denim is downright embarrassing. As far as full time art is concerned, well I still have a mortgage and the bank insists that I keep going back to the classroom most days!

@liamsnootle

‘Lateralisation’ opens this Friday at ‘Off the Kerb Gallery’ 66B Johnston St, Collingwood.