Exhibitions online and opening soon


While many of the PHOTO 2020 exhibitions have been postponed to our new dates in 2021, this week we would like to celebrate the museum and gallery exhibitions that have already opened or will be ready to open as soon as it is safe to do so – featuring over 60 artists, photographers and collectives from Australia and around the world.

This is a first taste of the expanded Festival program curated in response to the theme, The Truth, leading up to PHOTO 2021 International Festival of Photography. Major group exhibitions explore photography’s complicated relationship with the truth through a variety of topics including First Nations stories, the impact of machines viewing and making photographs, the connection and disconnection to country, and the representation of the black body and black lives. These are presented alongside solo exhibitions and new commissions by Atong Atem, Justine Varga, Robert Fielding, Patrick Pound, Damien Shen, Agnieszka Polska, James Tylor, Jacky Redgate, David Noonan and Minstrel Kuik.


We have been amazed at the adaptability and ingenuity of our exhibition and program partners creating virtual tours, digital programs, and rescheduling exhibition programs to ensure audiences can see them when they reopen. Here is a small snapshot of what was planned for PHOTO 2020, and a taster for what is to come in 2021.


Central (CBD)


The Image Looks Back

RMIT Gallery

7 September – 24 October 2020

Leading Australian and international artists, photographers and technologists explore the impact of machines viewing and making photographs.

If the photograph has conventionally been understood as a record or memory of the world, what happens when the image looks back? This exhibition explores the reconfiguration of photography in the context of algorithmic processes, machine vision and networked circulation.

Jacqueline Felstead (AU), Joan Fontcuberta (ES), Forensic Architecture (UK), Generative Photography (UK/CH), Mike Gray (AU), Joe Hamilton (AU), Thomas Hirschhorn (CH), Rhonda Holberton (US), Fei Jun (CN), Amalia Lindo (AU/US), Rosa Menkman (NL), Tyler Payne (AU), QueerTech.io (AU), Joachim Schmid (DE), Winnie Soon (HK)

Curated by Alison Bennett (AU), Shane Hulbert (AU), Rebecca Najdowski (US), Daniel Palmer (AU)


Michael Gray, Batu Karas, 2018

Michael Gray, Batu Karas, 2018

Destiny Deacon: Destiny

NGV Australia, Federation Square

24 July 2020 – 31 January 2021

Destiny Deacon (Kuku, Erub/Mer) is internationally renowned for her darkly comical work that offers a nuanced, thoughtful and, at times, intensely funny snapshot of contemporary Australian life. The largest retrospective of Deacon’s work to date, DESTINY is a collection of more than 100 photographs, videos and multi-disciplinary works made over more than three decades. The exhibition includes the world premiere of a new body of work, as well as an early collection of videos that have never before been exhibited at the NGV.

Destiny Deacon, [Smile], 2017. Courtesy the artist.

Image: Destiny Deacon, Smile, 2017. Courtesy the artist.


Atong Atem: To Be Real

Immigration Museum

Opening August 2020

Surreal mythologies and constructed un/realities are brought to life in To Be Real, a major new commission by South Sudanese/Australian artist Atong Atem for PHOTO 2020.

Atem is known for exploring migrant narratives, postcolonial practices in the diaspora and identity through portraiture. Her dynamic compositions are drenched with colour, pattern, and potent visual references. These scenes reference the ways in which we construct personal and collective narratives, in an interplay of truth, reality, drama and artifice.


Atong Atem, Sahara, 2020

Atong Atem, Achol, 2020



Koorie Heritage Trust

Until 23 August 2020

Affirmation is a major exhibition that explores truth-telling through a First Nations lens.

First Nations people, their stories and images have been obscured and manipulated throughout history. Affirmation empowers Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to tell their own stories, capture their own truths, and express themselves through their own lens.

Bringing together some of Victoria’s most exciting multi-disciplinary Indigenous photographers – Paola Balla (Wemba Wemba, Gunditjmara), Deanne Gilson (Wadawurrung), Tashara Roberts and Pierra Van Sparkes (Pibbulman), each artist will explore the concept of truth in the context of place, ancestral identity and cultural pride.

View the virtual exhibition.

Paola Balla, The Mok Mok Cooking Show 2, 2016


Justine Varga: Tachisme

Tolarno Galleries

4 April 2020 – 9 May 2020

Justine Varga’s work ruptures any distinction between photography and painting. In Tachisme, Varga explores the activity of decipherment in photographs and its relation to inscription, meaning and knowledge.

Varga’s film negatives are smeared and stained with pigment during long exposures. When these negatives are printed large-scale, the latent inscriptions reveal artist’s fingertips, a trace of touching generally forbidden in photographic production. Varga sees her photography as a drawing with light, or as a lightsensitive substrate on which she makes marks or allows the world to leave marks. These photographs highlight practice that is physical and chemical, autobiographical and contingent, painterly and photographic.

Enter the virtual viewing space now, until 9 May 2020.

Image: Justine Varga, [Influence], 2018-19.

Justine Varga, Influence, 2018-19

Image: Justine Varga, Contusion, 2018-19

Justine Varga, Contusion, 2018-19


Inner North (Collingwood, Fitzroy)

No True Self

Centre for Contemporary Photography

24 July – 11 October 2020

Arvida Byström, Thibaut Henz, Artor Jesus Inkerö, Hanna Putz, Jana Schulz, Andrzej Steinbach, Thomas Taube.

Curated by David A. Kerr

Emerging artists from Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Poland and Sweden reflect on the impact of technology on the presentation of self in this Australian exclusive.

This exhibition reflects on the way digital technologies mediate our relationships through virtual and physical realities, and the effects on our performance of self. Through a variety of conceptual approaches spanning photography, video, installation, new media and performance, the artists investigate the blurring of private and public realms and the agency of the individual within a post-digital society.

Image: Hanna Putz, [Everything Else is a Lie], 2019. Courtesy the artist.

Image: Hanna Putz, Everything Else is a Lie, 2019. Courtesy the artist.


This Is No Fantasy

In Livin’ the dream, Cook offers a retake on Australian history by imagining a contemporary Indigenous community with Aboriginals living the lifestyle prescribed by white norms. The disjuncture between the reality of Indigenous life and the white Australian dream/ideal raises the questions ‘what makes a person civilised?’ and suggests how different history might have been if those Europeans had realised that the Aborigines were indeed civilised. Cook asks provocative questions: If the British had realised Aborigines were indeed civilised, would history have been different?

Cook’s photographic works reinterpret Australian history and reframe entrenched narratives through the eyes of Indigenous Australians. His carefully choreographed images reflect on notions of truth and identity and consider how art and images shape history and cultural memory. The images explore the continued effects and ongoing aftermath of colonisation and cultural marginalisation.

The works are characterised by a dramatic and seductive aesthetic. His highly staged and carefully constructed images are realised in a monochromatic palette that gives the work a timeless and wholly contemporary quality.

Image: Michael Cook, [Livin’ the dream (Welcome Home)], 2020. Courtesy the artist.

Michael Cook, Livin’ the dream (Welcome Home), 2020. Image courtesy the artist.

South (South Yarra, St Kilda, Windsor)


Robert Fielding: Routes / Roots

Linden New Art

Until 30 August 2020

Western Arrente, Yankunytjatjara and Pitjantjatjara artist Robert Fielding’s new work is grounded in archival, institutional and community research. It raises questions about ownership of cultural knowledge, the institutionalisation of sacred objects, and change as an integral part of resilient cultures. View the catalogue online now.

Robert Fielding, Echoes #2 (Kapi Pilki Kapi Ilu), 2019. Image courtesy of the artist and Mimili Maku Arts.


Patrick Pound: The museum of there, not there

Station Gallery

25 April – 23 May 2020

Patrick is interested in representations of things you can’t really see. For his solo exhibition at STATION, he decided to respond directly to the current situation and the specific peculiarity of presenting an exhibition that no one can attend. At STATION, while the world is locked down (and locked out of the gallery), The museum of there, not there will stand alone, unvisited but not unseen. Visitors are restricted to experiencing the exhibition in a virtual space.

Patrick Pound,
The big sleep
20, found photographs, dimensions variable,
approx. 150.0 x 500.0 cm. Courtesy the artist and STATION

Patrick Pound, The big sleep 2016 – 20, found photographs, dimensions variable, approx. 150.0 x 500.0 cm. Courtesy the artist and STATION


Damien Shen: A Stone from Another Mountain


23 April – 16 May 2020

Damien Shen’s new body of work reflects the nuances of his cultural identity as a man of Ngarrindjeri and Chinese bloodlines. In the new series, Shen’s work explores the many facets of his identity and experience beyond reductive constructs of Indigeneity – drawing into the frame his Chinese culture, which influences the way he works and lives. MARS Gallery is now closed to the public but their large front windows allow for an unobstructed view of the main gallery. MARS Gallery also remains open by appointment.

East (Bulleen, Hawthorn, Narre Warren)


The New Black Vanguard: Photography between Art and Fashion

Bunjil Place

Until 27 September 2020. Check gallery for opening hours and booking details.

This exhibition presents artists whose vibrant photography fuses art and fashion in ways that break down long-established boundaries. Creating photography in vastly different contexts — New York and Johannesburg, Lagos and London, the artists’ images open up conversations around the roles of the black body and black lives as subject matter. Seeking to challenge the idea that blackness is homogenous, the works serve as a form of visual activism. The results — often made in collaboration with black stylists and fashion designers — present new perspectives on the medium of photography and the notions of race and beauty, gender and power.

Campbell Addy (UK/GH), Arielle Bobb-Willis (US), Micaiah Carter (US), Awol Erizku (ET/ US), Nadine Ijewere (UK/NG/JM), Quil Lemons (US), Namsa Leuba (CH/GN), Renell Medrano (US), Tyler Mitchell (US), Jamal Nxedlana (ZA), Daniel Obasi (NG), Ruth Ossai (UK/NG), Adrienne Raquel (US), Dana Scruggs (US), Stephen Tayo (NG)

Curated by Antwaun Sargent

View the virtual tour now.

Image: Campbell Addy, [Adut Akech], 2019. © the artist.

Campbell Addy, Adut Akech, 2019


You Are Here

Town Hall Gallery

A collection of artists explore their connection and disconnection to country in an exclusive group show.

For the First Peoples of Australia and those more recently arrived, relationships with the Australian landscape are defined by both a deep sense of cultural belonging and the country’s history of conflict and displacement.

You Are Here is a meditation on ideas of home and identity within the environment informed by cultural, personal and historical narratives.

Duha Ali & Justine Youssef, Ophelia Bakowski (AU), Miriam Charlie (Garrawa, Yanyuwa, AU), Club Ate: Bhenji Ra (PH/AU) & Justin Shoulder (AU) with Tristan Jallah (AU), Nici Cumpston (Barkindji, AU), Tammy Law (AU), James Tylor (AU), Anne Zahalka (AU)

View the exhibition online and read the exhibition catalogue.

Image: Anne Zahalka, [You Are On Dharawal Land!], 2020. Courtesy the artist and ARC ONE Gallery.

Anne Zahalka, You Are On Dharawal Land!, 2020

Regional (Albury, Ballarat, Geelong, Horsham)


Bendigo Art Gallery
8 August – 8 November 2020

Hoda Afshar, Peta Clancy, Rosemary Laing and Michael Cook

The Burning World brings together major works by four leading Australian artists Hoda Afshar, Peta Clancy, Rosemary Laing and Michael Cook. Taking its title from the apocalyptic science fiction text of the same name by JG Ballard, the exhibition interrogates urban and natural landscapes to reveal truths about human inhabitations. Addressing the contemporary ramifications of past actions, the works hold confronting realities in tension with idyllic and iconic environments, challenging dominant narratives to focus attention on what has been overlooked, denied or concealed. In particular, they draw upon colonial histories, fact and fiction, to consider the landscape as an amorphous political site.

Hoda Afshar, Remain (still) 2018, 2 channel digital video, colour, sound. Courtesy of (c) the artist and Milani Gallery.


National Photography Prize

Murray Art Museum Albury

21 February – Sunday 14 June

The National Photography Prize exhibition of finalists presents a selection of the most innovative photo-based practices from Australia.

Anthea Behm (AU/US), Danica Chappell (AU), Elise Harmsen (AU), Ali McCann (AU), Hayley Millar-Baker (Gunditjmara, AU), Kent Morris (Barkindji, AU), Sarah Mosca (AU), Phuong Ngo (AU), Lillian O’Neil (AU), Emma Phillips (AU), Debra Phillips (AU), Justine Varga (AU)

View the virtual tour now.

Lillian O'Neil, with visitors viewing adjacent wall, National Photography Prize 2020. Photo courtesy of MAMA.

James Tylor: Economics of Water

Murray Art Museum Albury

6 February – Sunday 17 May

Economics of Water maps the damage that has occurred to the Murray Darling River system, which for over 65,000 years has sustained life in what is now Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory. James Tylor – who is of Nunga (Kaurna), Maori (Te Arawa) and European (English, Scottish, Irish, Dutch and Norwegian) ancestry – documents the severely drought-affected Menindee Lakes region, as well as new photographs taken near Tallangatta, Victoria, on the edges of the Hume Dam. Each of the photographs are overlaid with gold geometric shapes, symbolic of non-Indigenous agricultural practices, fisheries, water diversion and other aspects of settler infrastructure.

View the virtual tour now.

Economics of Water #2(Divide), 2018, Gold paint on Photograph, 100x100cm

James Tylor, Economics of Water #2(Divide), 2018


Jacky Redgate

Geelong Gallery

Until 14 February 2021

Jacky Redgate is known for the systems and logic that inform her sculptural and photographic works. Hold On reflects on how she has recalled the autobiographical images and subjects of her juvenilia, while continuing to make conceptually based photographs over the past decade. What could initially be interpreted as formal compositions with neutral subjects becomes ‘contaminated’ by dolls and teddy bears from Redgate’s childhood.

Jacky Redgate, [Unfold – Mirrors, doll, coaster and spoon set, toy sewing machine], 2016. Courtesy the
artist and ARC ONE Gallery, Melbourne.

Jacky Redgate, Unfold – Mirrors, doll, coaster and spoon set, toy sewing machine, 2016. Courtesy the artist and ARC ONE Gallery, Melbourne.


David Noonan

Art Gallery of Ballarat

Until 4 October 2020

Stagecraft brings together silkscreen collages on fabric, tapestries and film by Ballarat-born artist David Noonan. Renowned for repurposing found photographs, Noonan uses images from his personal archive to create ambiguous works, often with a focus on a solitary haunting figure. Noonan creates new compositions using black and white images appropriated from sources including magazines relating to avant-garde theatre, film, design, architecture, dance and music. Documentary images transform into fiction, suggesting the significance of theatricality and performance in the public realm. The combination of imagery creates a tension between abstraction and representation, and as a result, between truth and illusion.

Image: David Noonan, [Untitled], 2019. Courtesy the artist.

David Noonan, Untitled, 2019. Courtesy the artist.


Minstrel Kuik: She who has no self

Horsham Regional Art Gallery

15 February – 10 May 2020

Minstrel Kuik explores the truth of self amongst the complexities of modern life.

Manifesting as photography, photo books and installation, She who has no self questions the politics of place, familial and cultural identity, and how these intersect with lived experiences.

Born in Malaysia of Chinese ancestry, Kuik lives in Kajang – a neighbourhood on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur. Living the tensions between different ideologies and social bounds, Kuik finds herself and her art negotiating a place between political society and authoritarian forces.

View the exhibition catalogue now.


Minstrel Kuik : She who has no self exhibition at Horsham Regional Art Gallery. Documentation by Baillie Farely

Installation view, Minstrel Kuik: She who has no self, Horsham Regional Art Gallery, 2020

Founding Partners
  • Bowness Family Foundation
  • Naomi Milgrom Foundation
Major Government Partners
  • City of Melbourne Arts Grants Program
  • Creative Victoria
Major Partners
  • Maddocks

PHOTO Australia respectfully acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands upon which we work and live, and the rich and diverse Indigenous cultures across what is now called Australia. For over 60,000 years, Indigenous arts and culture have thrived on this sacred land, and we honour Elders and cultural leaders past and present. This was, and always will be, Aboriginal land.

01–24 March