Teri Puketapu in Bore is an image by Johanna Mechen who works with still and moving images exploring the relationship between art, photography and science.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but with the rise of fake news and doctored images, it can be difficult to decipher whether what you are seeing is real or not.
This conundrum is one of great interest to Demi Heath, as director and curator of Photival, Wellington’s documentary photography festival focused on vital social, economic and environmental issues.
Heath started the non-profit festival last year after moving from the UK and seeing a gap in the local market for an event focused on documentary photography
âI see this type of photography as a true focus on the world around you rather than an internal examination of emotions or conceptual ideas. It’s really about human relationships with the planet and how we all interact. with each other and the stories around us. “
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This year’s festival, which Heath describes as a “labor of love,” features panelists Nicky Hager, Ann Shelton, Robbie Nicol, Nina Tonga and Geoffrey Batchen: a diverse group that she is happy to have on board.
âIt’s been a series of conversations long enough over the past few months to get a diverse base of expertise, with a solid foundation in photography, but also drawing on areas like journalism, NGO people, that sort of thing.” I was very lucky that the local community here was so supportive. All of our panelists do it for free. “
Unlike its inaugural release in 2017, this edition of Photival is not exhibition-focused, with Heath opting for a new format.
“This festival is definitely more documentary-oriented … I like to push it more towards the social side.
“If you want to have a platform to show the work and discuss the issues, then you might as well do it for the public good.”
Keynote speaker Michael Hall, originally from Wellington but now based in Australia, is an artist willing to share his work, capturing the human impact and contribution to climate change.
Having traveled the world to document this global process, his work offers rare insight into the diversity of landscapes and the devastation that plagues the planet.
His work fits well with Heath’s vision for the festival as a whole – offering an in-depth look at how national issues are portrayed through imagery.
âIt’s about examining the role of photography in journalism and the way newspapers use photography as well as the rise of ‘fake news and fake images,’ says Heath.
“Basically it focuses on how images can be manipulated to meet people’s needs.”
* Photival runs until April 29 in Wellington. For the full program and ticketing, visit: photival.com/programme-20/