“Only the unknown frightens men…

But once a man has faced the unknown, that terror becomes the known.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

CoverI can’t wait to see The Heart of the Great Alone: Scott, Shackleton & Antarctic Photography at the Canterbury Museum (the library has copies of the book).

H. G. Ponting’s images record Scott’s Terra Nova expedition of 1910 – 1913 and F. Hurley’s icescapes were taken during Ernest Shackleton’s polar expedition on the Endurance in 1914-16. They were presented to King George V and today belong to the Royal Photograph Collection.

From 20 August 2010 to 20 February 2011 Canterbury Museum is the only venue for this exhibition outside the Queen’s galleries. Not bad, eh?

I’m amazed by how they managed to get such good photos in such weather conditions, it demonstrates that it’s not the equipment that matters but the photographer’s ability (remember to breathe in when you press the shutter!).

If you want to hear and see how Antarctic photography works nowadays, book your spot at the Canterbury Museum for New Zealand’s independent publishing mogul, photographer and conservationist Craig Potton‘s presentation on the 26th of August 2010.

Or perhaps you might prefer to listen to the Curator of the Royal Photograph Collection on the 24th of August 2010.

Who is your favourite great outdoors photographer?

I am very fond of Light and Landscape by Andris Apse, beautiful New Zealand. And it’s hard not to be moved by Ansel Adams‘ black and white masterpieces.

Exit Through the Giftshop

Cover image of "The Birth of Graffiti"This weekend I headed along to the 2010 New Zealand International Film Festival to see Exit Through the Giftshop, the (supposed) documentary directed by and featuring Banksy, enigmatic street artist extraordinaire. Deciding there’s a better story to tell than his own, Banksy turns the camera on one of his more interesting admirers Thierry Guetta. In true Banksy style, the film manages to make clever observations about popular culture in a tongue-in-cheek kind of way that you can’t help but grin at.

Thierry Guetta, you see, is a man on a mission. He takes his video camera wherever he goes and records everything he sees, desperate to capture each moment before it is lost forever. Introduced to the art of graffiti through his cousin, the Invader, he becomes obsessed with following various street artists as they sneak around the city at night with their spray cans and stencils. One serendipitous moment leads to the next, and Thierry’s biggest wish comes true – he gets the opportunity to meet the elusive Banksy. He becomes Banksy’s accomplice, helping him paint elephants and cause havoc at Disney Land, all the while with camera in hand. Eventually Banksy realises Thierry is not the documentary maker he has made himself out to be, and encourages him to ditch his film-making ambitions and start graffiti-ing the town instead. Thierry embraces Banksy’s instructions like God himself has spoken to him. He is reborn as Mr. Brainwash and sets out to take street art to a whole new level…

My favourite bit? Watching Thierry sit in the LA sun in all his 70s shirts and sideburns glory, waxing lyrical about his passions. His French accent and confused use of the English language makes him the new Bruno in my eyes. I’ll be quoting him for weeks to come. Oh, and the TV monster was AWESOME.

While Exit Through the Giftshop clearly points and laughs at the art world, you get the feeling that Banksy is having a bit of a giggle at his audience too. Hoax or not, it’s one worth seeing. Brilliant.

Going to the opera in your jeans

CoverLooking at the Rialto Cinema website recently I noticed that bookings for The Met Live in HD recommences in November this year and bookings are already open.

I have allowed myself to be put off  attending these in the past because of the thirty dollar ticket price and the thought of three hours in a picture theatre. Feedback from those who have attended the Emmy Award winning series suggest I have missed out on a treat. According to the Rialto website:

the show is shot with a dozen cameras, some of which move, and the changes in perspective provide new dimensions to a stage picture usually seen from a single vantage point …

and of course the Met is one of the world’s premier opera companies, with productions which would far outshine anything I could see here.

This year the series features an entirely new production of the Ring Cycle, beginning with Das Rheingold featuring Bryn Terfel at the head of a stellar cast. To put in perspective the benefits of attending the film version, this opera opens in New York at the end of September and is expected to be sold out well in advance. The Met are offering priority access to two tickets to the opera and to the gala opening if you join the “Golden Ring” at the small cost of $10,000. For $25,000 dollars you get extras thrown in, like attending rehearsals. Of course you would then need to purchase the best tickets at US$245 a pop and naturally one would also need to dress the part.

A quick trip to the Rialto in my favourite jeans and a ticket for $33 is starting to look very cheap and attractive. What do opera lovers out there think of these productions? Is it as good as it looks? Is it worth a punt for a dabbler in opera?