A Precarious Convergence of Light: The Photography of Peter Karuna
by Simon Orpana
Karuna situates his photographic practice largely within the tradition of street photography. The moments he simultaneously captures and composes “come together” in an unexpected way in what he calls a “confluence” of factors. Through the portal of his camera lens, the coincidence of situation, light, figure and ground coalesce into unplanned moments of beauty, curiosity and revelation. Like the chemical codes stored in a seed, invisible until they interact with the wind, soil and rain, Karuna's visual imagination is intricately linked to his environments in a relational process that occasionally manages to crystallize the hazard of the moment into decipherable shapes. By translating the vagaries of thought, instinct and emotion into visual fields of information, Karuna's photos become allegories for his political and existential concerns, proliferating meanings that make the works sites of personal and collective narrative as much as records of a particular instant of time.
Cone, Herne Bay, UK, 2008
He defines himself as an artist who has managed to navigate the cracks and margins of society, a position born partly from necessity, partly from choice, that Karuna has turned to his advantage. The careful distance he keeps from the mainstream has allowed Karuna to avoid the pigeonholes of both the workaday and art worlds, providing a unique, outsider's perspective that informs a prodigious artistic production across a variety of mediums. His films and short videos such as, Missing Culture (1993), Black On White (1994), and PC (2001), address such themes as diaspora, racism, and ecological concerns, playing with genre, trope and stereotype in a manner that is simultaneously humorous, moving and challenging.