2015 & 2016 Auckland Photographer of the Year

Bare Truth Exhibition

by admin on 04/06/2016 · 0 comments

in Bare Truth,Exhibition,Media articles


Naked honesty at Bare Truth exhibition

TV3 Newshub –

Wednesday 8 Jun 2016 5:32 a.m.

Auckland’s North Shore currently features an exhibition of topless men — but it’s not what you think.

Bare Truth is a collection of 40 black and white photos of men showing their vulnerability and their pride.

For Dave Grant, it was picturing him as he’d never been pictured before, as he was once certainly not be proud of his body.

“When I was very young I got quite a large burn on my chest and I’ve hidden it,” he says.

“This is the first photo that’s ever been taken of me like this and I’ve just turned 50, so it’s taken a while for me to get here. This is a very healing process.”

Mr Grant’s wife volunteered him for the shoot and he’s grateful.

“I think this is a therapeutic step so that hey, I’m going out there but hey, this is who I am, this is really me,” he says.

And Mr Grant is not the only one baring his soul for the first time. Photographer Ilan Wittenberg found many with life’s battle scars.

“And when they take their shirt off I suddenly discovered all these tattoos that remind them to be clean of drugs, or remind them of loved ones who have died or simply huge scars of a triple bypass or chemotherapy or some operation they went through.

“It simply reminds them of how fragile we are,” Wittenberg says.

“I think it’s important that men are shown to be vulnerable and not just, you know, big tough guys. That you get your kit off and you bare yourself, you expose yourself in a different kind of way.”

John Botton is a photographer too, a friend of Wittenberg’s; not always the proud man staring back at the lens, but rather someone who had to fight to get noticed.

“I had acne as a child so I did have a self-image problem, and looking at myself in the portrait now I’m quite proud of myself,” he says.

“I think I’ve earned my scars and they look good.”

Wittenberg has a portfolio of more than 100 photographs, but it took time and courage for subjects to agree.

“Four people said no to me, four said maybe and two said yes but only one showed up, so that’s the statistics behind this,” he says.

But there’s a serious message too: men should embrace their vulnerability and not feel any stigma in asking for help, emotionally or for their health.

“They show courage they’re proud of their bodies, they feel comfortable in their own skin even though some are not as lean or muscular, this is beautiful,” Wittenberg says.

The exhibition continues at Northart Gallery for another two weeks.

Newshub.


Bare Truth wins at Iris Awards

North Shore Times, July 5, 2016
Award Winning Print


Our Auckland

See a striking collection of images of bare-chested Kiwi men

Auckland Council, Tuesday 31 May 2016

One of the key aims of photographer Ilan Wittenberg’s ‘Bare Truth’ campaign was to counter-balance the portrayal of men as strong, physically and emotionally.

“This stereotype sometime leads to dire outcomes when considering how poorly typical men treat health symptoms such as depression, stress and anxiety,” he says.

“I wanted to raise awareness; give men the freedom to express their feelings and connect with their emotions. This fresh look at men is an eye-opening opportunity to see real people without the ‘shield’ of clothes. The project simply reminds us of how fragile we are.”

The combination of shooting in monochrome, using soft, directional light and adopting a special post-processing technique allowed Wittenberg to enhance the features of his ‘models’ so that the images are raw and crisp. The simple backgrounds eliminate distractions so the viewer can focus on their body language and facial expression.

The biggest challenge was finding the first man to agree to pose. After a few rejections, Wittenberg created portraits of close friends and family members. As the portfolio expanded, he formalised a consistent style and became confident in approaching strangers – men who had an interesting appearance or whose face told a story.

“While some men are very comfortable with having their portrait created, others feel this is completely outside their comfort zone, particularly when asked to strip down to the waist. One man expected the experience to be therapeutic while others were slightly nervous. The results show a captivating mix of men that are humble, courageous and vulnerable.”

The project gained momentum after selected prints from the body of work won awards in the Portrait Classic category of the 2015 Iris Awards from the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography. ‘Bare Truth’ was also selected to be an Associated Exhibition at the 2016 Head On photo festival in Sydney.


Men stripped bare

Tuesday 31st May 2016

Rebecca Kamm, The Wireless

We spoke to Auckland photographer Ilan Wittenberg about the thinking behind his latest collection.

Beyond the shiny, white-toothed fitness models who beam out in all their taut glory from men’s health magazines, images of topless men in the public sphere are all but absent. In obvious contrast to photographs of near-naked women’s bodies, at this point part of the furniture, we’re rarely invited to inspect the male torso.

That’s one reason Bare Truth, a collection by accomplished Auckland photographer Ilan Wittenberg, stands out. Another is his knife-sharp focus on every bodily detail of his 100-or-so unsmiling subjects, which include a former drug addict and a burns victim.

“I treat the photos in such a way that you see the hair, the pimples, the scars, everything,” Wittenberg says of his unapologetic approach. “It’s interesting, because we don’t see people like that anywhere. If you go to the beach you’ll see topless men, but you dont get close to them like that.”

“Raw”, says the artist, whose work can be found at Auckland’s Northart gallery from June 5-22, is what he hears most in response to Bare Truth. But the photographs have no rough edges; they are exquisitely, acutely rendered. That’s intentional: Wittenberg chose specific lighting and processing techniques that would bring the literal mark life leaves on our bodies into sharp relief.

It’s also something of a warning. “There’s this idea that men are stronger,” says Wittenberg, whose 18-year old son features in the collection (he bares the scar of a tumor removed when he was small). “That may be true in some strength-related areas; men have more muscle tissue, for example. But when it comes to mental health or emotional health, the fact is that women actually talk more. They share more. They’re more open.”

Conceived when Wittenberg took a topless portrait of a friend and was struck by the result, Bare Truth is designed to flip any lack of openness on its head. “I looked at the image of my friend and I thought, there’s some meaning behind his eyes. I could see his vulnerability.”

He began to approach men on the street. “Out of every ten, four said maybe, four said no, two said yes, and one showed up.” But as the collection grew, so did their trust, and the project picked up pace.

Stories are unavoidable when nakedness enters the picture. “Suddenly [when] they take off their shirt I see they’ve had a triple bypass, or chemo, or some other surgery,” he says.

“I asked them about their tattoos: What is it? What does it mean to you? One of them said, ‘Well, I was a drug addict and this tattoo helps me to remind myself how to be sober, and how good it is to be clean. Another said, ‘Oh, this is about my bestfriend who died.’ We’re all vulnerable.”

He gave his subjects a print out of their final image and, overall, reactions were positive. The men loved their portraits and were proud to have taken part. One even used the word “therapeutic”.

That didn’t mean they were all ready to share the experience. “Some men didn’t show it to their wives, because they think [their image] is too confronting. They’ve asked their daughters to do it for them; to explain the context to their wives for them when they pass away. Because it is confronting. We never show ourselves like this to other people.”

Bare Truth will show at Northart gallery in Northcote, Auckland from June 5-22. Admission is free. The collection is also part of the 2016 Auckland Festival of Photography. 


Bare Truth in OUR AUCKLAND

Bare Truth in ourAuckland


Ilan Wittenberg – Bare Truth

May 23rd, 2016

photoforum

 

BARE TRUTH – Ilan Wittenberg

A compelling collection of images showing bare chested men will feature in the Auckland Festival of Photography 2016 Signature Programme.

5-22 June 2016

Northart Gallery
Norman King Square
Ernie Mays Street – Northcote Shopping Centre
Open daily 10am -4pm

One of the key aims of Wittenberg’s ‘Bare Truth’ campaign was to counter-balance the portrayal of men as strong, physically and emotionally. “This stereotype sometime leads to dire outcomes when considering how poorly typical men treat health symptoms such as depression, stress and anxiety,” he says.

“I wanted to raise awareness; give men the freedom to express their feelings and connect with their emotions. This fresh look at men is an eye-opening opportunity to see real people without the ‘shield’ of clothes. The project simply reminds us of how fragile we are.”

The combination of shooting in monochrome, using soft, directional light and adopting a special post-processing technique allowed Wittenberg to enhance the features of his ‘models’ so that the images are raw and crisp. The simple backgrounds eliminate distractions so the viewer can focus on their body language and facial expression.

The biggest challenge was finding the first man to agree to pose. After a few rejections, Wittenberg created portraits of close friends and family members. As the portfolio expanded, he formalised a consistent style and became confident in approaching strangers – men who had an interesting appearance or whose face told a story.

“While some men are very comfortable with having their portrait created, others feel this is completely outside their comfort zone, particularly when asked to strip down to the waist. One man expected the experience to be therapeutic while others were slightly nervous. The results show a captivating mix of men that are humble, courageous and vulnerable.”

The project gained momentum after selected prints from the body of work won awards in the Portrait Classic category of the 2015 Iris Awards from the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography. ‘Bare Truth’ was also selected as an Associated Exhibition at the 2016 Head On photo festival in Sydney.

About the photographer:
Having studied and worked in industrial engineering and information technology, Ilan Wittenberg is a relative newcomer to professional photography, only starting his journey in 2011. But his talents were quickly recognised, winning him a plethora of national and international awards. Ilan is a Fellow of the Photographic Society of New Zealand and a Master of the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography. Selected works from the Bare Truth portfolio won Ilan the title: 2015 Auckland Photographer of the Year.


Photographer Ilan Wittenberg exposes the Bare Truth in portrait exhibition

'Attitude", a portrait from Ilan Wittenberg's latest exhibition, Bare Truth.

‘Attitude”, a portrait from Ilan Wittenberg’s latest exhibition, Bare Truth.

A former drug addict, a burns victim and a burly builder are hardly typical male models.

But these men – and around 100 more – are the subjects of an Auckland photographer’s latest exhibition.

Ilan Wittenberg began his project, Bare Truth, a year ago, with an idea to portray New Zealand men as they truly are.

'Pukana', a portrait from Ilan Wittenberg's latest exhibition, Bare Truth.

‘Pukana’, a portrait from Ilan Wittenberg’s latest exhibition, Bare Truth.
 Bare-chested, blemished, scarred, and tattooed, the men’s histories are etched on their skin. One of the men had received skin grafts as a child – a pot of boiling jelly had ended up on his chest. Another has a prayer inked onto his arm.

“It’s interesting where people find strength,” Wittenberg says.

At first, his subjects were friends and family (Wittenberg’s 21-year-old son is among the men featured in the exhibition).

'LOKADIE', a portrait from Ilan Wittenberg's latest exhibition, Bare Truth.

‘LOKADIE’, a portrait from Ilan Wittenberg’s latest exhibition, Bare Truth.

But as his collection and his confidence grew, Wittenberg began approaching strangers on the street. Market-goers, roadworkers, hedge-trimmers – any man who looks like he might have a story to tell.

“Out of every 10, four say ‘no’, four say ‘maybe’, two say ‘yes’, and one shows up.”

Wittenberg spent an hour speaking with the men before they went in front of the camera, asking them about their families, jobs, and the tales behind their tattoos.

 The first photograph was of a friend who’d resisted participating in the project until the day before he departed New Zealand forever.

“He wasn’t very tidy – not scruffy, but he didn’t take great care of himself,” Wittenberg says of the man.

“In the photograph, you will see he puts his hand up to chest and he touches his heart… he has a little bit of sadness in his eyes.

“I thought, ‘this is real’.”

Wittenberg has about 100 photographs in the Bare Truth collection. Each of his subjects received an A4 copy of their photo, as thanks.

'Skulls', a portrait from Ilan Wittenberg's latest exhibition, Bare Truth.

‘Skulls’, a portrait from Ilan Wittenberg’s latest exhibition, Bare Truth.

Some of the men were happy with the result, others felt confronted by the image.

“They didn’t actually show it to their wives, because they never saw themselves that way,” Wittenberg says.

The series is inspired by the work of famed photographers Robert Mapplethorpe and Platon. Shot before a blank background and converted into monochrome, the photographs depict a stark spectrum of Kiwi masculinity.

“When people look straight into the camera they actually look at the person on the other side, they look at the person who views them, and you can read their eye, you can actually see their soul – that’s what I felt.”

Bare Truth is Wittenberg’s third exhibition this year, showing in Sydney earlier this month, and in Auckland in June.

While images of topless women have become cliches of Western society, there’s something about a photo of a shirtless man – unretouched – which makes observers take a closer look.

“We see thousands of photos every day – on social media, in magazines, on tv, on the internet, billboards – and we ignore…” Wittenberg says.

“If you go to an exhibition, it’s not like looking at something on the computer… you stand in front of a photograph… and you let it talk to you.”

Visitors to the Sydney exhibition offered a range of interpretations, Wittenberg says.

“They say this person is looking very confident, very strong. And that person looks a bit… shy, and that person looks dangerous like, I wouldn’t want to meet that guy down a dark alley or something like that.

“It’s so interesting how in a fraction of a second we judge other people, even when they’re not there, just based on their body language – their eyes, their shoulders.”

But Wittenberg hopes the exhibition will also raise awareness of men’s health issues. Without a shirt, it’s difficult to hide the hallmarks of past surgeries, or chemotherapy.

And the camera offers insight into the soul.

“When people look straight into the camera they actually look at the person on the other side, they look at the person who views them,” Wittenberg says.

“You can read their eye, you can see their soul – that’s what I felt.”

Wittenberg emigrated from Israel with his wife and two children in 2001. The North Shore resident had been working as a business analyst before he took up portrait photography full time in 2011.

While portraits pay the bills, the Bare Truth project was a labour done for love, not money.

Quoting business leader Stephen Covey, Wittenberg says: “We’re here to live, to laugh, to love and to leave a legacy.”

“We’re not getting any younger… my legacy is about pictures I do.”

Bare Truth will be exhibited at Northart gallery in Northcote, Auckland from June 5 – 22. Admission is free. 

The exhibition will also feature in the 2016 Auckland Festival of Photography.

 – Stuff


The ‘Bare Truth’ exhibition at Gaffa Gallery

Before Ilan Wittenberg became an award winning photographer, he worked in the corporate world, with a bachelor of science in industrial engineering up his sleeve.

“Four years ago I was made redundant and was contemplating whether or not to get back into the industry,” he explained.

“I just wasn’t as engaged as I used to be with my work, so I thought I could try pursuing my hobby of photography.”

The photo extraordinaire said he wouldn’t have been able to make the career change without the motivation and support from his wife and close mentors.

“I stand on the shoulders of giants. I’ve learnt a lot and I couldn’t have done it without my beautiful wife,” he said.

“When I migrated from Israel to New Zealand in 2001 with my wife and children, I had a dream to become a man who would make a mark on this earth.

“Motivational speaker Stephen Covey once said ‘Live, love, laugh and leave a Legacy’, for me, photography is a way to leave my legacy.”

Mr Wittenberg will exhibit an assortment of 97 portraits, titled Bare Truth, at the Gaffa Gallery from May 12 to 28.

Bare Truth is a captivating collection of portraits of New Zealand men who are humble, courageous and vulnerable,” he said.

“Their photographs expose and reveal who they really are and their edgy portraits are presented in monochrome to emphasize their shape and form.

“The combination of using a soft, directional light while adapting a special post-processing technique, enables me to enhance their features so the images are raw and crisp. They look directly into my camera so there is always a highlight in their eyes.”

Mr Wittenberg explained the idea of creating portraits of men who exposed their chest evolved gradually.

“The biggest challenge was finding the first man to agree to pose topless.

“After a few rejections and setbacks, I created a portrait of a close friend and became really engaged with the look in his eyes,” he added.

“Many cultures portray men as strong, physically and emotionally. This stereotype sometime leads to dire outcomes when considering how poorly typical men treat health symptoms, depression, stress and anxiety.”

He said one of the biggest goals for his project was to raise awareness and to give men freedom to express their feelings and connect to their emotions.

“This fresh look at men is an eye opening opportunity to see the real people without the ‘shield’ of clothes.

“We are all flesh and blood and we are here on this planet for a short period of time. This project simply reminds us of how fragile we are.

“It takes us just one-tenth of a second to judge someone and make a first impression, so it’s fascinating to see how quickly we form our opinion, based solely on physical appearance.”

Bare Truth gained further momentum after selected prints won prestigious awards at the Portrait Classic category of the 2015 Iris Awards form the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography.

The collection was then chosen to be exhibited as an Associate at the 2016 Head On Photo Festival, which will run until May 29, as well as the 2016 Auckland Festival of Photography.

“It’s been said that photography is the easiest medium of art to be competent in but it’s the hardest medium in which to have a truly personal vision,” Mr Wittenberg said.

“It’s very much like talking – everyone can talk but very few have something to say,” he added.

When asked what his overall goal was for the collection he replied: “My goal is to present work that is strong and distinguished with a clear narrative sense. I wish to inspire people with images that are crisp and sharp, to be creative and artistic, to evoke emotions and to show a personal vision.”

Details: Bare Truth will run from May 12 – 28 at Gaffa Gallery, 281 Clarence Street, Sydney.


Exposing men’s hidden side in Bare Truth

Lain Moger

NORTH SHORE TIMES

May 17, 2016

Auckland Portrait Photographer



Head On Photo Festival exposes New Zealand men

April 22, 2016 by Keren Cook
Read on for article

This year’s Head on Photo Festival showcases the work of New Zealand photographer Ilan Wittenberg – a new collection of monochrome images of bare-chested New Zealand men.

IMG_0549-Edit-3The Sydney-based international photography exhibition offers a different skew from the standard approach. All work submitted to the festival is judged without the artists’ names or pedigrees so the proposals stand on their merit.

Head on Foundation (est.2008) is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the work of photographers at all stages of career, encouraging excellence and innovation, making photography accessible to all and raising awareness of important issues through photography.

IMG_7261-Edit-3One of Wittenberg’s objectives in his ‘Bare Truth’ campaign was to counter-balance the portrayal of men as strong, physically and emotionally.

Bare Truth is a collection of portraits of New Zealand men who are humble, courageous and vulnerable. Their photographs expose and reveal who they really are. They look directly into the camera so there is always a highlight in their eyes.

Wittenberg says it’s all about challenging stereotypes and presenting his subjects in a way that allows the viewer to think and reflect on issues like strength, power and emotion. Stereotypical perceptions of strength and well-being can be problematic according to Wittenberg.

“Stereotype sometimes leads to dire outcomes when considering how poorly typical men treat health symptoms such as IMG_7701-Edit-2depression, stress and anxiety,” Wittenberg says.

Wittenberg’s photographs are created to drive awareness and to offer men the freedom to express their feelings and connect with their emotions. Wittenberg says: “ This fresh look at men is an eye-opening opportunity to see real people without the ‘shield’ of clothes. The project simply reminds us of how fragile we are.”

The combination of shooting in monochrome, using soft, directional light and utilising special post-processing technique allowed Wittenberg to enhance features of his ‘model’s so the images appear raw and crisp. His use of simple backgrounds allows the viewer to focus on the body language and facial expression of his subject.

Initially, Wittenberg asked only family and friends to participate, but after sometime expanded his portfolio and began approaching total strangers.

The photographer then focused on capturing a variety of ethnic groups, poses, age groups and body sizes. He says: “it’s the set of photos that makes the collection engaging.”

Exhibition details:

Ilan Wittenberg – Bare Truth
Head On Photo Festival – Associated Exhibition Where:
Gaffa gallery, 281 Clarence Street, Sydney
When:
May 12 to 23, Mon-Fri 10am to 6pm, Sat 11am to 5pm Opening event: Thursday 12 May 6pm
Artist talk: Saturday 14 May 12pm

Ilan Wittenberg – Bare Truth

Photojournalism/Documentary

 Portrait

12 May – 23 May

Gaffa Gallery,  281 Clarence St,  2000 Central Sydney, NSW, Australia

Bare Truth is a captivating collection of portraits of New Zealand men who are humble, courageous and vulnerable. Their photographs expose and reveal who they really are. The edgy portraits are presented in monochrome to emphasize their shape and form. The simple background eliminates distractions so the viewer can focus on their body language and facial expression.

The combination of using a soft, directional light while adapting a special post-processing technique enabled me to enhance their features so the images are raw and crisp. They look directly into my camera so there is always a highlight in their eyes.

Many cultures portray men as strong, physically and emotionally. This stereotype sometimes leads to dire outcomes when considering how poorly typical men treat health symptoms, depression, stress and anxiety. One of the goals of this project is to raise awareness; give men freedom to express their feelings and connect to their emotions. This fresh look at men is an eye-opening opportunity to see the real people without the ‘shield’ of clothes.

We are all flesh and blood and we are here on this planet for a short period of time. This project simply reminds us of how fragile we are. In creating this collection I aim to demonstrate a clear style, to tell a story while being imaginative and thought-provoking. I wish to inspire people with distinct images that are crisp and sharp, to be creative and artistic, to evoke emotions and to show a personal vision.

The idea of creating portraits of men who expose their chest evolved gradually. The biggest challenge was finding the first man to agree to pose. After a few rejections and setbacks, I created a portrait of a close friend and became really engaged with the look in his eyes.

At the beginning I asked only family and friends to participate. After gaining valuable experience and formalising a consistent style, I expanded the portfolio and became confident in approaching total strangers. Having a small folio helped in overcoming objections, until the project gained a critical mass with dozens of portraits. I focused on capturing a variety of ethnic groups, poses, age groups and body sizes.

Once the portfolio increased in size, I became more selective and started approaching men who had a more interesting appearance; those whose face tells a story. While some men are very comfortable with having their portrait created, others feel this is completely outside their comfort zone.

The Bare Truth project gained further momentum after selected prints from this body of work won prestigious awards at the Portrait Classic category of the 2015 Iris Awards form the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography as wall as international awards.

The Bare Truth portfolio was later chosen to be exhibited as part of the Signature Programme of the 2016 Auckland Festival of Photography.

Opening Hours: Monday – Friday:10:00 am-6:00 pm
Artist Talk: 14 May 12PM
Saturday: 11:00 am-5:00 pm

Portrait Photographer Auckland

Bare Truth – Auckland Festival of Photography

Ilan Wittenberg – Bare Truth

Northart Gallery • 5 June – 22 June

Opens 4:00pm on Sunday 5 June
Hours 10am-4pm daily
Where Norman King Square (Opposite the Library), Ernie Mays Street,Northcote Shopping Centre

021 503441
http://ilanwittenberg.com/bare-truth/
Yes

Artists Ilan Wittenberg
Theme Exhibitions

Bare Truth is a captivating collection of portraits of New Zealand men who are humble, courageous and vulnerable. Presented in monochrome to emphasize their shape and form, the simple background eliminates distractions so the viewer can focus on their body language and facial expression. Using soft, directional light and adopting a special post-processing technique enhances the men’s features, creating images that are edgy, raw and crisp. The Bare Truth portfolio was chosen to be exhibited at the 2016 Head On Photo Festival in Sydney and has won national and international awards.Artist talk: Sunday 12 June at 2pm

BARE TRUTH PORTFOLIO IS SET TO TURN HEADS AT HEAD ON PHOTO FESTIVAL

Head On Photo Festival’s Associated programme for 2016 includes at least one show that’s bound to turn heads – a striking collection of monochrome images of bare chested New Zealand men.

One of the key aims of photographer Ilan Wittenberg’s ‘Bare Truth’ campaign was to  counter-balance the portrayal of men as strong, physically and emotionally. “This stereotype sometime leads to dire outcomes when considering how poorly typical men treat health symptoms such as depression, stress and anxiety,” he says.

“I wanted to raise awareness; give men the freedom to express their feelings and connect with their emotions. This fresh look at men is an eye-opening opportunity to see real people without the ‘shield’ of clothes. The project simply reminds us of how fragile we are.”

The combination of shooting in monochrome, using soft, directional light and adopting a special post-processing technique allowed Wittenberg to enhance the features of his ‘models’ so that the images are raw and crisp. The simple backgrounds eliminate distractions so the viewer can focus on their body language and facial expression.

The biggest challenge was finding the first man to agree to pose. After a few rejections, Wittenberg created portraits of close friends and family members. As the portfolio expanded, he formalised a consistent style and became confident in approaching strangers – men who had an interesting appearance or whose face told a story.

“While some men are very comfortable with having their portrait created, others feel this is completely outside their comfort zone, particularly when asked to strip down to the waist. One man expected the experience to be therapeutic while others were slightly nervous. The results show a captivating mix of men that are humble, courageous and vulnerable.”

The project gained momentum after selected prints from the body of work won awards in the Portrait Classic category of the 2015 Iris Awards from the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography. ‘Bare Truth’ was also selected for exhibition as part of the Signature Programme of Auckland Festival of Photography.

The show will run from May 12 to 23 at Gaffa gallery in Sydney.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: