August 18, 2017

Photojournalism Now: Friday Round Up - 18th August, 2017

This week on Photojournalism Now: Friday Round Up it's all about the 2017 Ballarat International Foto Biennale.

Special Feature:
2017 Ballarat International Foto Biennale


(C) Meg Hewitt Tokyo is Yours - Fringe

Opening tomorrow in the Victorian regional centre of Ballarat, an hour's drive from Melbourne, the 2017 Ballarat International Foto Biennale (BIFB) runs for four weeks. Its expansive program promises to showcase work that appeals to a broad audience and the success of the festival is largely pinned on its major drawcard, the blockbuster David LaChapelle exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ballarat.

This exhibition, which is ticketed (a first for the festival), has received considerable publicity and is advertised on billboards, trains and in the media showing a new level of promotion for this regional event.

LaChapelle's celebrity profile is clearly a great asset for the festival, and his works, some of which you can see in this post, are larger than life, drawing on religious art history tropes and celebrity tackiness. His photographs are lauded in the art world and if nothing else, are most definitely eye-catching, although this type of photography doesn't interest me, as my readers know! Nor does some of the more conceptual photography on show, much of which leaves me cold.

But there are most definitely exhibitions which have caught my attention and for those documentary lovers you won't be disappointed having made the trek to Ballarat. From the Core program my top pick is Rearranging Boundaries, a group show curated by Australian documentary photographer Aaron Bradbrook and featuring the work of Zanele Muholi (South Africa), Tanya Habjouqa (Jordan), Abbas Kowsari (Iran), Wei Leng Tay (China) and Remissa Mak (Cambodia). You can read my feature article on this exhibition in Saturday's Australian Financial Review Weekend.

There are also a number of exhibitions in the large Fringe program which are worth checking out - Lloyd Williams Rustic Remnants, MAP Group's Beyond Borders 2017, Meg Hewitt's Tokyo is Yours and Helga Leunig's Three Weeks in Havana, Tony Evans' The Faces of Sovereign Hill - to name a few. In fact, the Fringe has more appeal for me than the Core this time around.

This year's BIFB is headed by new festival director Fiona Sweet, who has swept into the job, and Ballarat, after a successful career in design and I suspect her background is reflected in the choice of some of the exhibitions such as Reverie Revelry: Fashion Through Photography and LaChapelle. Sweet's agenda, to take the festival from its regional roots and elevate it on the national arts calendar, is ambitious as it is hard enough to get audiences to galleries in the capital cities let alone country towns. Let's hope the program with its stars and its breadth heralds success.

If you're in Melbourne, then it's an easy drive down the highway. For those interstaters, make a weekend of it. I'm sure you won't be disappointed by the program, or by Ballarat, which is one of the most beautiful Victorian country towns, its Gold Rush architecture a visual treat in itself. There's good coffee and food to be found too. So do your bit and support the Arts, because they are vital to the health of our society and shouldn't be undervalued or ignored.

BIFB in pictures - a random selection

Core Program

Rearranging Boundaries
Ballarat Trades Hall


(C) Abbas Kowsari


(C) Remissa Mak


(C) Tanya Habjouqa


(C) Wei Leng Tay


(C) Zanele Muholi


Reverie Revelry: Fashion Through Photography
Ballarat Mechanics Institute

This group show features the work of Robyn Beeche, Noé Sendas, Prue Stent and Honey Long, Nancy de Holl and Matthew Linde.  


(C) Bruno Bernini

(C) Robyn Beeche

(C) Honey Long and Prue Stent, Wind Form 2014

David LaChapelle
Art Gallery of Ballarat

(C) David LaChapelle

(C) David LaChapelle

Fringe Program - a selection
(C) Meg Hewitt Tokyo is Yours

(C) Helga Leunig Three Weeks in Havana

(C) Helga Leunig Three Weeks in Havana

(C) Lloyd Williams Rustic Remnants

(C) Lloyd Williams Rustic Remnants

(C) Tony Evans The Faces of Sovereign Hill

Ballarat International Foto Biennale
19 August - 17 September