Confronting Photography Exhibition at City Gallery Wellington

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Media Release: February, 2015. 

An exhibition of portraits of Mongrel Mob members by New York-based, New Zealand photographer Jono Rotman will open at City Gallery. Mongrel Mob Portraits opens on 14 March and runs until 14 June.

Mongrel Mob Portraits is a body of work that has been over seven years in the making. It’s seen Rotman travel all over New Zealand photographing over 200 men. “I was given access no outsider has ever had,” Rotman says.

“This is an important and challenging project by a Wellington photographer that extends his inquiry into life on the margins,” says City Gallery Chief Curator, Robert Leonard. “Rotman’s images are confronting because they clash our expectations of gangs and our expectations of portraiture”.

Rotman employs traditional techniques of portraiture used to capture heroes, celebrities, politicians and royals. His photographs of mob members unsettle our expectations of portraiture. “Is it glorification because they are good photographs? Should these guys only be shown in bad photographs or police mugshots?"

Rotman’s Mongrel Mob portraits were first shown at Auckland’s Gow Langsford Gallery in 2014. City Gallery's exhibition expands on this selection, extending Rotman’s engagement with different types of portraiture and the perspectives he offers on the country’s most notorious gang.

Rotman’s portraits offer neither glorification nor caricature. He says, "I hope that viewers are forced to consider each man in person and consider deeply the forces that made him.”
In 2013, Rotman was awarded the prestigious Marti Friedlander Award for Photography for his Mongrel Mob photographs.  Renowned photographer Marti Friedlander says, “The photos of these men moved me to tears. It seems almost as if Rotman has understood something and revealed the person behind the Badge without prejudice.”

Jono Rotman grew up in Ohariu Valley, Wellington. He studied printmaking in Argentina and photography in Wellington and has exhibited throughout New Zealand and Australia, including in Parallel Worlds, a joint exhibition between the Adam Art Gallery in Wellington and the Centre for Contemporary Photography in Melbourne (2011). Rotman’s work is represented in the Wellington City Council Art Collection, and the Chartwell Collection, Auckland.

 Jono Rotman is represented by Gow Langsford Gallery in Auckland.

Jono Rotman: Mongrel Mob Portraits
City Gallery Wellington
14 March – 14 June 2015 | FREE Entry | citygallery.org.nz

For all media enquiries and images, please contact: Olivia.Lacey@wmt.org.nz 04 801 4258