The Perth International Arts Festival has been hijacked.
Back for a third instalment without a remote chance of being stale, the visual art project Hijacked deftly asserts the Festival's international aspects with a cross-geographical examination of cutting-edge photography in a book and an exhibition teased from its pages.
Following the strand of Hijacked I, with photography from Australia and the US, and Hijacked II (Australia/Germany), Hijacked III looks at photographers from Australia and Britain, but with a difference.
Drawing on a new group of artists, the exhibition strikes a new level of collaboration by running largely concurrently in Perth and at the QUAD Gallery in the English Midlands city of Derby.
Hijacked, at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, is the brainchild of Mark McPherson, the Perth-based editor, curator and founder of Big City Press. Up until now, the publishing company has been the embodiment of the walking, talking encyclopaedic production, marketing, sales and creative superman behind it.
McPherson says the collaboration with QUAD in Derby and PICA in Perth has let him take a back seat for a change. "It's been fantastic to have a bigger team. It's resulted in a bigger book, with every single component changed, from the production team and designer to the curators."
PICA curator Leigh Robb says it's an amazing project because McPherson has an incredible vision, a real dedication and persistence. "To have engineered a structure which is growing in strength and richness and reach is really exciting and great for Australian artists," she says.
Sometimes shocking, sometimes hilarious and often thought-provoking, the artists in Hijacked put a magnifying glass up to the world through an array of diverse themes.
London-based Natasha Caruana, for instance, posed as a prospective buyer of a wedding dress, collecting images from disgruntled brides. Robb says they're depressing.
"They're these beautiful expensive wedding photographs and someone's put a piece of Blu-Tack over the face, or burnt a hole in it, or put garish smiley faces on them."
Polish-Welsh artist Maciej Dakowicz brings alcohol-fuelled weekends from the streets of Cardiff into focus with images of kissing, fighting, despair and public slumber. Robb says everyone knows these places exist in every town. "I think that's their universality. It could be Northbridge, or it could be Piccadilly at the end of a night after a big concert."
For the first time, Aboriginal artists have been included in Hijacked. South Australian Christian Thompson is the first Aboriginal to be accepted into Oxford University. Joining him in the exhibition and book are three others - eminent photographer Tracey Moffatt, Tony Albert and Bindi Cole.
A documentary of Cole's time living with the transgender Sistagirls of the Tiwi Islands, who are the subject of her photography, is included. Sistagirls were once held in high esteem as nurturers but colonisation altered indigenous understanding of gender expression and today many are excluded from their tribes.
There is much in Hijacked to ensure the geographically distant countries of Australia and the UK feel at least close in mind. Filmed interviews with all 35 participating artists will run during the exhibition.
Sometimes shocking, sometimes hilarious and thought-provoking, artists in Hijacked put a magnifying glass up to the world through an array of diverse themes. <div class="endnote">