Ballarat International Foto Biennale – Core Program

The Ballarat International Foto Biennale, the largest photography festival held in Australia, will open in Ballarat next week for a month-long celebration of photography.

Running from 20 August to 18 September, BIFB boasts an impressive line up of photographers from Australia and overseas. There is so much to see in this photographic extravaganza that it is easy to get overwhelmed by all the information, so this post focuses on the Core Program which showcases the work of 21 photographers. Further details about the full program of the Ballarat International Foto Biennale can be found on the BIFB website.

Perhaps the photographer with the highest profile in the festival is Jan Saudek, the ‘Enfant Terrible’ of Czech photography, renowned for his darkly erotic and at times confronting imagery. The controversial artist is exhibiting with Sara Saudkova who began her career as Saudek’s assistant and is now an important Czech photographer in her own right. Their exhibition, Dolce Vita, offers Australian audiences a rare opportunity to see their extraordinary, hand-coloured photography ‘in the flesh’, which looks at themes of movement, emotion, pain and beauty.

Sara Saudkova, Tatra Mod 1935. Image courtesy BIFB.

‘The Man Who Shot The Sixties’ is a retrospective of UK photographer, Duffy, showing at the Art Gallery of Ballart. Duffy, who died last year, is remembered for his iconic fashion photography documenting the hipsters of the ‘swinging 60s’ London scene and his creation of several album covers for David Bowie, most notably Aladdin Sane.

Duffy. Jean Shrimpton and Barbara Miller in Biba for The Telegraph.  Image courtesy BIFB.

Other international artists include Lisa M. Robinson and Cynthia Karalla from America, New Orleans collaborators Jeff Louviere and Vanessa Brown, US/Japanese artist Osamu James Nakagawa, Hungarian photographer Istvan Horkay, and Tony Whincup from New Zealand. Look out for the works of upcoming Chinese photographer Maleonn Ma, heralded as one of the exciting new photographers of his generation in China.

Maleonn Ma, Little Flagman No.10, Image courtesy BIFB.

Although BIFB is global in scope, Australian photographers are also well represented.  Architectural photographer John Gollings reveals new subject matter in Bushfire Aerials showing the devastating aftermath of Black Saturday and the bushfires of 2009. Gollings is also the creative co-director of Now and When – Australian Urbanism showing at BIFB. Now and When, a major project by the Australian Institute of Architects, impressed the crowds at the 2010 Venice Architecture Biennale with its stereoscopic (three dimensional) images taken from a helicopter.

John Gollings, 739M 11’01.45’S037 18’56.42, Image courtesy BIFB.

Other Australian artists include Melbourne photographer Les Horvat who is exhibiting a series of work from Vietnam, emerging photographer Sarah Louise Jackson whose works portray the innocence of wildlife, eminent elder of photography Maggie Diaz, and leading documentary photographer Jack V Piccone now based in Thailand. There are also works by Alfred ‘Greg’ Gregory, Frances Mocnik, Heather Dinas and Roger Donaldson.

Alongside the established Australian and international photographers, BIFB is exhibiting photographs from up-coming artists Judith Crispin and Colin Page.

An accomplished composer and poet currently living in Berlin, Crispin has been lauded for the poetic quality of her photography. She is exhibiting a series of works exploring the emotional spaces of memory, The Cartographers Illusion.

Judith Crispin, Self-diptych. Image courtesy BIFB.

Colin Page creates his striking portraits using ultraviolet light to expose his subjects. In his series Gossamer, he creates haunting images that highlight both the vulnerability and determination of his subjects. They seem to loom out of the gloom with a ghostly presence.

Colin Page, Pan. Image courtesy BIFB.

In a recent interview on ArtsHub, BIFB Director, Jeff Moorfoot explains that photographers were selected for the originality of their vision.

“I am looking for things that aren’t just interesting pictures … We have a lot of photographers who take fantastic technical pictures but they’re imitations,” he says. “I’m always looking for photographers that have an original vision, for photographers that have something to say other than ‘I’m a very good technical photographer and I can work in the style of Ansel Adams’ or whoever.”

… Moorfoot explains that the exhibitions “need to have the really interesting, subversive art stuff, but there also needs to be something the general audience can relate to.”

Given the eclectic mix of exhibitions, there will certainly be something for everyone. All exhibitions in the Core Program are open daily throughout the festival, and located within 5 minute’s walk from each other in the town centre, and admission is FREE.

In addition to the Core Program, BIFB is running a Fringe Program featuring about 70 artists. In total, nearly 100 exhibitions have been organised as well as projections, seminars, workshops, portfolio reviews, competitions, prizes and artist talks.

To find out more about Ballarat International Foto Biennale, go to the BIFB website and discover all the exhibitions and activities on offer.

Photographer in Focus: Alberto Sanchez


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