PHOTO LIVE with Atong Atem


On Sunday 10 May, artist, curator and PHOTO 2021 advisor Léuli Eshrāghi and PHOTO 2021 artist Atong Atem spoke about language, identity and belonging as part of PHOTO LIVE.

Atong Atem is an Ethiopian born, South Sudanese artist and writer living in Narrm/ Melbourne. Atem’s photographic practice explores migrant narratives, postcolonial practices in the African diaspora, and concepts of identity, home, and liminal space.  Her dynamic portraiture references widely, from Malick Sidibe and Seydou Keita to science fiction writer Octavia Butler.  She was awarded the inaugural National Gallery of Victoria and MECCA M-Power scholarship in 2018 and the Brisbane Powerhouse Melt Portrait Prize in 2017.


Dr Léuli Eshrāghi, Sāmoan artist, curator and researcher, intervenes in display territories to centre Indigenous presence and power, sensual and spoken languages, and ceremonial-political practices. Through performance, moving image, writing and installation, ia engages with Indigenous possibility as haunted by ongoing militourist and missionary violences that erase faʻafafine-faʻatama from kinship structures. Ia contributes to growing international critical practice across the Great Ocean and North America through residencies, exhibitions, publications, teaching and rights advocacy. Eshrāghi is the inaugural Horizon/Indigenous Futures postdoctoral fellow at Concordia University, co-guest editor with Kimberley Moulton of Artlink Indigenous art issue titled KIN CONSTELLATIONS languages waters futures (June 2020), and a member of The Space Between Us SSHRC project (2020-28) led by Dr Julie Nagam.


View full program for PHOTO LIVE here.

Read a Q&A with Atong Atem here.

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