Being here - Regional News | Connecting Wellington
 Issue 211

Being here by Alessia Belsito-Riera

Fascinated by the sense of time and place in relation to photography’s sacred connection to light, photographer Ben Lowe spent the last three years wandering through the south coast’s Te Rimurapa Sinclair Head at night to experiment with long-exposure photography – often sleeping under the stars until sunrise. His exhibition Here, on display at the Courtenay Place light boxes until the 12th of February, makes light of the dark.

Tell me about your fascination with light.

The combination of wanting to be more contemplative and reflective, the shift from digital sensors to the materiality of photographic film, and the desire to share appreciation of the passage of time are just some of the interwoven developments behind my photographic process.

Working with light, especially at nighttime, you must slow down. The sensitivity to light in the vertical format black and white photographs reflects a nocturnal perception that reveals a parallel world of night that deepens our perspective and sense of time, place, and self. To accomplish this, the role of duration throughout the process is at the forefront of the work. I can’t help but feel grateful for starlight, which travels at such speed through the universe over vast distances and time to illuminate Te Rimurapa and bounce into my retina and camera lens. Through devotion and perseverance, it feels right to offer the cosmos and whenua my vulnerability, time, and energy too.

What draws you to photography?

Photography brings me into the world. I’m beneath the sun – or the stars – feeling the breeze, looking around as my body, imagination, and wide world are in conversation with each other. Photography is also an excellent way to hold onto moments and thoughts – expressing, compressing, and translating the weight of a recorded moment in the whole of existence. Photography reminds me to see and take pleasure in the wide world, to draw closer to others and see behind barriers, to find myself and to feel.

What do you hope visitors take away from Here?

The core ambition of the exhibition builds upon the sentiment of wonder, sense of place and time, meaning, and connection to places we care for as well as our particular place in the cosmos. I hope that the images will broaden viewers’ horizons beyond their commute in the city, going out of their comfort zone and recognising the complex personal relationships to places they cherish. Aotearoa New Zealand is one of the few places on Earth where people can still see the vast cosmos from their homes, and I hope we never take it for granted. From the meaning and relationships to whenua and place; the recharging of wairua fostered by the moon and night world; the retelling of experiences; the sense of place and layers of time within photographs; the inward reflection and woven connections between the body, imagination, and wide world – this is what being Here is all about.

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