29 April 2022 - 22 May 2022

Image: Atong Atem, from the series Surat, 2022. Commissioned by Photo Australia for PHOTO 2022 International Festival of Photography. Courtesy the artist and MARS Gallery.


29 April 2022 - 22 May 2022


Old Treasury Building (outdoor) [i]
20 Spring St, East Melbourne
24 hrs



Wheelchair access, Audio guides



Atong Atem’s large-scale installation expands on her new commission Surat.

Surat is the first photobook by South Sudanese / Australian artist Atong Atem and the second in the PHOTO Editions series co-published by Photo Australia and Perimeter Editions.

The book is an homage to family photos and the characters that make up a family. Atem revisited her family photo albums that span decades and continents, and restaged and reimagined scenes and characters. The resulting book is a documentation of a series of performances as self portraits and the act of photographing and being photographed, framing and being framed. It’s a performative depiction of photography and the repetition of dressing, sitting, posing, changing, testing, adjusting and capturing.

For Atem, Surat (which translates from Sudanese Arabic as ‘snapshots’) is also about movement, both geographic and historic. “It’s about South Sudan, so-called Australia and everywhere else in between that I’ve rested my head to dream about my people—or rather the depictions of people I don’t know but am connected to through photographs.”

Commissioned by Photo Australia

Supported by the Victorian Government

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