New Festival Dates and Expanded Program Announced


The inaugural PHOTO 2021 International Festival of Photography has announced its new dates, taking over Melbourne and regional Victoria from 18 February – 7 March 2021.

Originally conceived as PHOTO 2020, the Festival was rescheduled in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. PHOTO 2021 is set to be Australia’s largest and most significant photography event. Audiences can expect to see powerful imagery by artists and photographers from across the world curated in response to the central theme – ‘The Truth’ – at outdoor sites in Melbourne, free exhibitions across Victoria, and an extensive public program.

“There has been no more important time for our society to discuss and debate the issues of finding, sourcing and understanding the truth. Whether it be alternative facts, augmented reality or artificial intelligence our notions, perceptions and encounters of truth are constantly being questioned, eroded and at times attacked. PHOTO 2021 has been established to not only create a world leading festival of photography, but to also continue to engage with and discuss the major issues of our time” said Mark Henry, Chair of PHOTO 2021.

Working with cultural and academic partners, Artistic Director Elias Redstone and the PHOTO 2021 team have created a new festival that celebrates photography as an artform as well as providing critical support to artists – with over 30 Australian and international artists commissioned to create new work.

Redstone said: “PHOTO 2021 is a truly international celebration of new photography and new ideas – a tour of what’s happening now in the world of contemporary photographic practice, and what’s coming next. Through commissioning new work we are dedicated to showing both established artists and providing support for new voices, perspectives and ideas. In the midst of COVID-19, supporting artists is more important than ever.”

Leading up to PHOTO 2021, an expanded Festival program runs throughout 2020, with a number of exhibitions specially curated in response to the Festival theme, ‘The Truth’, now opening to the public. Group exhibitions exploring how new technology is shifting our sense of reality include ‘No True Self’ at the Centre for Contemporary Photography (24 July – 11 October 2020), featuring emerging artists from Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Poland and Sweden; and ‘The Image Looks Back’ at RMIT Gallery (7 September — 24 October 2020), in which artists, photographers and technologists explore the impact of machines viewing and making photographs on the human experience.

Personal and political truths are also revealed in ‘Affirmation’ at Koorie Heritage Trust (29 April – 23 August 2020), with Indigenous artists exploring the concept of truth in the context of place, ancestral identity and cultural pride; ‘The Burning World’ at Bendigo Art Gallery (8 August – 8 N0vember 2020), which interrogates urban and natural landscapes to reveal darker truths about human inhabitations; and the Aperture exhibition ‘The New Black Vanguard: Photography between Art and Fashion’ featuring a new generation of black photographers turning the camera on the black body, presented exclusively in Australia for the Festival at Bunjil Place (1 July – 27 September 2020).


Explorations of ‘The Truth’ are continued in solo exhibitions by Destiny Deacon (KuKu, Erub/Mer – Australia) at NGV Australia (24 July 2020 – 31 January 2021), David Noonan (Australia) at Art Gallery of Ballarat (14 March – 28 June 2020), Atong Atem (South Sudan/Australia) at Immigration Museum (Opens August 2020), Jacky Redgate (Australia) at Geelong Gallery (7 March 2020 – 14 February 2021), and Robert Fielding, an artist of Pakistani, Afghan, Western Arrente and Yankunytjatjara descent, at Linden New Art.


Running alongside these exhibitions, PHOTO 2021 is presenting PHOTO LIVE, a series of live streamed conversations with PHOTO 2021 artists about the social and cultural role photography plays in our lives, addressing a range of issues from identity and belonging to human rights and social justice. The first season is available to watch online and features Cristina de Middel (Spain), Hoda Afshar (Iran/Australia), Adam Broomberg (South Africa), Hayley Millar-Baker (Gunditjmara – Australia), Eliza Hutchison (Australia), Atong Atem (South Sudan/Australia) and Sara, Peter & Tobias (Denmark).

The next season of PHOTO LIVE launches on 13 July 2020, and features Dana Scruggs (USA), Stephen Tayo (Nigeria), Quil Lemons (USA), Tashara Roberts (Dja Dja Wurrung/Yorta Yorta – Australia), Paola Balla (Wemba Wemba/Gunditjmara – Australia), Ann Shelton (New Zealand), Amanda Williams (Australia), Rosa Menkman (The Netherlands) and (Australia). View full PHOTO LIVE program for July 2020 here.


The full PHOTO 2021 program will be released later this year.

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