I caught an interesting photographic exhibition yesterday at Pataka yesterday, amidst a thoroughly pleasant visit to the Kapiti Coast. Titled Protest and Celebration it showcased 50 or so works by some of our top documentary and media genre photographers. The themes covered were, unsurprisingly, protest - hikoi, land occupations, and marches - and celebration - sporting achievement, royal visits and returning unknown soldiers.
What I found most interesting was the ratio of protest and celebration images. It was roughly 10 protest to 1 celebration (contrast this to the website which features 1 protest to 2 celebration...)
I'm wondering to what extent this is a curatorial identification and response on a national tendency towards the negative - a commentary on that disturbing aspect of our culture that likes to prune tall poppies, tack a but onto every positive statement, and (contrary to Saatchi's old ad campaign) eliminate the positive.
Or was it merely a reflection on the quantity of images available to the curators. Anyone armed with a camera can encounter a yelling waving street protest, whereas only a handful of New Zealand photographers were able to capture Sarah Ulmer's stunning achievements in Manchester and Athens.