Aletheia Casey

Aletheia Casey

Women from the Stolen Generation

by Aletheia Casey (Australia)

I wanted to do this workshop because I have previously heard Ed speak at a conference in London and I was both incredibly impressed with his photographic work and also the manner in which he spoke about photography. The passion, honesty and integrity in his work are greatly inspiring. I have learned so much from this workshop and have loved every second of it. I’m currently based in Sydney and am working on long term documentary projects.

Portfolio from the Photojournalisme workshop with Ed Kashi, June 2013.

Written review by TAJ FORER,
Photographer and cofounder at Daylight Publishing

Dear Aletheia,

I have very much enjoyed looking at and thinking about your work. Below, I paste a few images drawn out of the portfolios you presented in Flickr. Beneath each image I have written write my reactions / observations / feelings in response. In all, I feel this represents my summarized reaction to your work, as presented to me.

I am immediately struck by image n°3; drawn in. The use of color in this photograph feels “right” – the interaction of the crisp, vibrant foreground and subtle, soft background/landscape is alluring. Then, the subtly synchronized angle of two of the women’s heads builds tension. I think, “What do the see? Are they on alert?” and a slight feeling of unease enters me.

Formally, I am a bit frustrated with the buildings behind the two figures to the right of the frame. It would have been fantastic if the angle had shifted enough that you could have rendered the two figures to the right in such a way that they, too, were composed against the soft, negative space of the sky (as is the one figure to the left of the frame). In any case, the photograph still draws me in and holds my attention wonderfully and I very much like this picture. In relation to the series from which it is drawn, it holds-­‐up quite well conceptually; perhaps even just a touch too directly.

After the Apology; Women from the Stolen Generation
I have two primary reactions to the photographs I am presented with from this project: 1.) The affection of the images feels very forced and I question your intention 2.) The writing on the image drives me away. You are a strong, visual storyteller and I don’t feel that the use of text overlaid on the image does anything to add to your photographic representation of this story. Rather, I believe it detracts from the strength of your images, and in turn, the story that you seek to tell. Having said this, I do like the landscape-­‐human pairings, in most of the diptychs that I reviewed from this project.

I would pay close attention to your alignment (or lack thereof) of the horizon and dominant compositional elements in all of the images you present together as single pieces. You probably already do this to some extent, but I would encourage you to perceive the two images together, as one single image, consisting of two complementary parts. I see this in some of the pairings, but less so in others. In general, I think the subject matter is rich, important and worthy of your exploration but, particularly resulting from the weighted/significance of the story behind these people, I think the affection of the imagery and use of text detract from your depiction or examination of these people and the story that surrounds them.

Perhaps you can simply re-­‐present the work and it would create a different reaction in me?

Image n°5 tells a story and I like that very much. Furthermore, I like that the story doesn’t have a clear beginning or end, let alone a defined plot. In other words, I (the viewer) am able to create a story of my own in my mind, rooted in the information known to us in the image (as well as the subject matter of the project from which it is drawn). This device is wonderful and I encourage you to employ it more frequently. I suggest this because it results in a truly “collaborative” experience between you (photographer), and the viewer of your picture. When I encounter this image, I feel something and that feeling unfolds, emerges – visual experience of the image becomes at once psychological and physical, as emotions begin to stir. This is a beautifully subtle photograph. Technically, the use of the subtle vignette works well, although I am not typically fond of vignette – to me, it easily becomes too heavy-­‐handed. Regardless, here I like it because it seems primarily shadow-­‐based, rather than affected in-­‐camera or via post-­‐production work on the image. The juxtaposition of the foreground and the fence is lovely and creates a similar tension (good) to what I referenced in the image above. The football and its busy patterning resonates with the busy patterning of the wall – spot on. My attention is held by this picture and it supports the underlying subject of the series in a way that is wonderfully complicated; eliciting a more deepened investment from the viewer. Achieving this is a great thing in my mind, particularly when utilizing a more traditional documentary methodology such as you do.

I do not like photograph n°10 very much. It feels quite “known” – very simplistically photojournalism-­‐like, rather than rooted in the artful documentary / concerned photographic storytelling tradition with which I associate much of your work (a much better thing, in my mind). I would rather see a detail of the dry lakebed, or something surprising, than this image. I don’t mean to be blunt but you have so many wonderful / strong / engaging pictures that this stands out for me as not nearly as good as the pictures above. I would edited this out of the project.

Picture n°9 is spot-on in; it tells a human story – one that all of us can relate to. By making this human connection to your viewer, you draw us into your picture and we become instantly and involuntarily connected to the subjects of your images. The use of yellow is incredible – wow – and the spread arms mimicked above in the flying kite is brilliant. The colors stand out and make an even greater impact as a result of the otherwise drab, dimly and evenly lit landscape. I also find the relationship between the building in the upper left corner and the yellow kite towards the bottom right corner to be formally engaging – the bulk of the image’s information being held nicely between these two object-­‐anchors at opposite edges of the frame. More than anything, however, it is the instant connection to the human story that is told here that draws me into the image and its theme. Simultaneously, the image sets-­‐up a deep relationship between the human subjects and the expansive body of water behind them in a nuanced and complex way; this I like.

Well done and it would be great to see more of your work. Please feel free to keep me updated about your work and thanks for the opportunity to have spent some time with your pictures.

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