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photo-eye Book Reviews: Hijacked 2

Hijacked 2. Edited by Mark McPherson. 
Published by Big City Press/Kehrer Verlag, 2010.

Hijacked 2
Reviewed by Colin Pantall
Edited by Mark McPherson, Ute Noll
& Markus Schaden.  Big City Press/
Kehrer Verlag, 2010. 412 pp.,
Illustrated throughout, 10-1/2x8-1/2".

At first glance, there are few similarities between German and Australian photography. German photographers study at prestigious colleges and produce work that owes allegiance to the organisation and clinical finishing of the Bechers and their disciples. Australian photographers follow a more organic path in their work, bringing together a range of influences that include film, folklore and the mythology of the Australian landscape. 

The divergence of the work is apparent in Hijacked 2, the latest volume in Mark McPherson's quest to put Australian photography on a global stage. The German photography is more focussed on specific working practice and so has a sense of place provided by the visual history from which it has emerged. The Australian work is more chaotic, with Australian features such as the landscape providing connections between work that is incredibly diverse.

From the German side comes earnestness and anxiety, political sensibilities that point to the traumas of the past, and possibly the future. Josef Schulz's pictures of abandoned border posts show the disintegration of European national identities.  Backlit booths provide a nostalgic light, but there is also a feeling that the border posts are in mothballs and that one day soon, stamp-wielding officials in peaked caps will once again be checking exactly who is going where and why.

Hijacked 2, by Mark McPherson. Published by Big City Press/Kehrer Verlag, 2010.

Many of the German photographers play with our generic expectation of images. Jens Liebchen's DL07 does this most effectively with his smudgy black and white images providing an aura of threat and violence. It's supposed to be a war zone but it's not - it's Liebchen's holiday snaps of Tirana, Albania.
Hijacked 2, by Mark McPherson. Published by Big City Press/Kehrer Verlag, 2010.
Counter-culture is present in the form of Julian Roder's G8 protestors. Best of all is Johanna Ahlert's Convoi - sensitive and rather touching portraits of German travellers.

It's not all grim though. Jan von Holleben makes Stephen Gill style montages in Mystery of Monsters, his latest investigation into childhood, dimensions and play, while lyrical beauty comes courtesy of Thekla Ehling's delightful Sommerherz series, a nostalgic series that puts into visual form what it might mean to be 21st Century German.
Hijacked 2, by Mark McPherson. Published by Big City Press/Kehrer Verlag, 2010.
What it is to be Australian is an altogether more difficult question. Tamara Dean looks at motherhood, especially the less glamorous aspects of it, James Brickwood photographs Australian teenagers partying during the Down Under equivalent of the Spring Spreak, and Georgia Metaxas photographs homeless Australians while they're having a haircut.
Hijacked 2, by Mark McPherson. Published by Big City Press/Kehrer Verlag, 2010.
Both the rural and the suburban environments are portrayed through Louis Porter super-saturated pictures of the suburban landscape as well as Lee Grant's documentation of Adelaide. The new Australian and its up-and-down relationship with Asia is felt in Jackson Eaton's autobiographical series of his South Korean girlfriend Hasisi.

Hijacked 2, by Mark McPherson. Published by Big City Press/Kehrer Verlag, 2010.

Michael Corridore's Angry Black Snake is a fitting end to Hijacked 2, an antipodean reprise of Liebchen's DL07. Crowds of people crouch down and shelter in smoke-filled dunes of sand. It looks as if a bomb has gone off or a building collapsed. But it's no disaster, just pictures of smoke from the burning engines of car burnout competitions.—Colin Pantall

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Colin Pantall is a photographer, writer and teacher based in Bath. His photography and writing have been shown and published in North America, Europe and Asia. More thoughts of Colin Pantall can be found at Colin Pantall's blog     (