The 2017 Ballarat International Foto Biennale, brings together superb international and Australian photography in an ambitious program.
Deluge Cathedral, Los Angeles, 2010, David LaChapelle
Opening on 19 August and running for 31 days across five weekends to 17 September, the 2017 Ballarat Foto Biennale can be ranked with the other great world photo festivals and biennales. The theme, performance of identity, is one everyone can relate to, looking at different cultures around the world and ‘how genders and cultures are globally unequal’, says Director, Fiona Sweet. ‘Photography is the most democratic of art forms, everyone uses it every day and we have such a visual literacy now, especially with young people,’ said Fiona. ‘I hope this program provides something everyone can relate to.’
Founded by renowned Victorian photographer Jeff Moorfoot in 2005, the festival is a not-for-profit celebration of photography which is staged at locations all across the city of Ballarat. There are eight core venues ““ including the Art Gallery of Ballarat, Post Office Gallery, the Town Hall, The Observatory and The Mining Exchange. Ensuring there will be lots of new and emerging work to be seen, there are also another 70 Fringe Program offerings dotted across the city’s many cafes, bars, galleries and other exhibition spaces. With Melbourne only one-and-a-quarter hours away by train, ‘you can just come for a day. But the idea is that you’d come for the weekend so that you can really feel the show. You’ll really need two days to see everything.’
Headlining this year’s Biennale is Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine protø©gø© and now internationally celebrated fine arts and fashion photographer, David LaChapelle. His eye-popping, high gloss works will be on show at the Art Gallery of Ballarat for the duration of the Biennale.
Gas am pm, Hawaii, 10/08/2012, David LaChapelle
Hayley Millar-Baker, Untitled photographic collage (Australia Tackles Black Death Rates), 2017.
‘Each exhibition space is curated with a theme,’ says Fiona. ‘Our Indigenous Photographic Exhibition includes 18 indigenous photographers and is curated by an indigenous curator. Our artists include Stephen Rhall, Maree Clarke, James Tylor, Dianne Jones, and local photographers, Wadawurrung women Deanne Gilson and Bindi Cole.
Connoisseurs of fashion photography will be delighted to hear that there’ll be an exhibition devoted to that art form as well. ‘We have works that have never been seen before by Robyn Beeche and she’s being teamed up with 1960s fashion photographer Bruno Benini. We have young contemporary photographers like Nancy de Holl, Prue Stent and Atong Atem ““ a South Sudanese artist who lives in Melbourne.’
Documentary photography, too, will have an important place, but with a different emphasis. ‘The documentary section is different from what we’ve had in the past. What we’re focusing on is people from their land, talking about their land ““ people and place.’ Along with the Core and Fringe exhibitions, the Biennale will also offer a host of activities for visiting photographers. For instance, in addition to workshops and talks, there will be a Ballarat Photo Day (#ballaratfotoday) event which will challenge photographers to capture the spirit of the city across a single 24-hour period.
David Shen, Still Life After Penn #1
The hugely popular folio reviews will be back as well. ‘Due to the immense popularity of our Portfolio reviews we have developed three events: An art-based portfolio review with curators and gallery directors of commercial and public art galleries from around the world; secondly a program for students wanting to get into photography courses with reviewers who are lecturers from photography schools from around Australia; we will also offer a folio review day for professional photographers. This one I am most excited for.’
Reviewers for the professional photography program include art directors and creative directors from major advertising and design agencies, as well as professional event organisers. ‘Professionals are going to be able to put their folios in front of people who could potentially give them work ““ as well as good suggestions and criticism.’
As the Biennale website puts it, We will present the world on our doorstep ““ celebrating and creating a shared, exciting perspective of how we see our surrounds, our community and ourselves.
2017 Ballarat International Foto Biennale
19 August – 17 September, every day 10am to 5pm
Article by Don Norris, first published in Photo Review Magazine Issue 72
Ballarat International Foto Biennale Workshops
1. CREATIVE OFF CAMERA FLASH WITH MICHELLE DUNN https://ballaratfoto.org/events/creative-off-camera-flash/
2. THE ART OF FOOD AND WINE PHOTOGRAPHY WITH LISA SAAD https://ballaratfoto.org/events/the-art-of-food-and-wine-photography/
3. POST PRODUCTION WITH MICHELLE DUNN https://ballaratfoto.org/events/post-production-workshop/
4. LIGHTING WITH ROCCO ANCORA https://ballaratfoto.org/events/lighting-workshop/
5. PHOTOGRAVURE WITH SILVI GLATTAUER https://ballaratfoto.org/events/photogravure-workshop/
6. NIGHT SKY PHOTOGRAPHY WITH ALEX CHERNEY https://ballaratfoto.org/events/night-sky-photography/
7. DIGITAL REPRODUCTION FOR FINE ART WITH TIM HANDFIELD https://ballaratfoto.org/events/digital-reproduction-for-fine-art/