Committed to presenting new ideas and fresh thinking, and supporting artists to develop and present new projects, PHOTO 2020 has commissioned new work from high profile international and Australian artists. Spanish artist Christina de Middel and UK artist Martin Parr will both be visiting Melbourne to collaborate on a new work at RMIT Project Space as part of Magnum Live Lab – a multiple photographer residency program, producing work in direct response to Melbourne and community. Pertinent to the festival’s theme, de Middel’s work investigates photography’s ambiguous relationship to truth. Blending documentary and conceptual photographic practices, she plays with reconstructions and archetypes in order to build a more layered understanding of the subject she approaches. Parr’s term for the overwhelming power of published images is “propaganda”. Parr’s photographs offer the viewer the opportunity to see the world from his unique perspective, and he counters this propaganda with his own chosen weapons: criticism, seduction and humour.
Acclaimed South African visual activist and photographer Zanele Muholi has been commissioned to create a new work outside the Melbourne Town Hall, a co-commission with the Biennale of Sydney. For over a decade they have documented black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people’s lives in various townships in South Africa. Before their first major mid-career survey exhibition at Tate Modern at the end of April 2020, Muholil will create new work for PHOTO 2020 inspired by communities in Australia.
The City of Melbourne is also supporting commissions by Victorian artists Kate Golding, Laura Delaney and Gunditjmara artist Hayley Millar-Baker. Millar-Baker was awarded the inaugural Photography Fellowship – a collaboration between State Library Victoria and PHOTO 2020. Her work will focus on the history of Victoria from an Aboriginal perspective, weaving new narratives on old ‘truths’ by reconstructing written, verbal and visual histories from the library archives with her own photography and visual archive.
Award-winning Iranian / Australian artist Hoda Afshar will create a new suite of work focusing on the topical issue of whistleblowing – which in recent Australian history has been instrumental in giving voice to the otherwise unheard and ignored in immigration, aged care, youth detention and disability care. Afshar was the recipient of the William and Winifred Bowness Photography Prize for her portrait of Behrouz Boochani, part of a collaborative project between Afshar and the men held on Manus Island by the Australian government.
For the first time Parliament of Victoria will welcome a Photographer in Residence, Melbourne-based artist Eliza Hutchinson, whose work is embedded in the politics of the now. Through merging personal and public imagery, her practice investigates the way imagery is consumed in our current media-saturated environment. The personal and political blur together, exploring our complex psychological relationship to photography and visual culture.
Selected as the PHOTO 2020 Photographer in Residence for Metro Tunnel Creative Program, Australian photographer Emma Phillips will create a visual portrait of Melbourne and its people. Phillips is one of several artists that PHOTO 2020 are commissioning with Metro Tunnel Creative Program to present large scale outdoor works in Melbourne, including: Emmanuelle Andrianjafy (Madagascar), Jesse Boyd-Reid (Australia), Kenta Cobayashi (Japan), Sam Contis (USA), George Georgiou (UK), Felicity Hammond (UK), Nico Krijno (South Africa), Lillian O’Neil (Australia), Alan Stewart (Taungurung (Australia) / Philippines), Ann Shelton (New Zealand), James Tylor (Kaurna / Māori / European Australia) and Amanda Williams (Australia).
Danish collective Sara, Peter and Tobias will present an installation exploring how artificial intelligence, robotics and simulation theory shape our understanding of reality; Sydney-based artist Sara Oscar will present a new work re-appropriating police mug shots from archival records; and Wiradjuri Celtic artist and Artistic Director of NIRIN, the 22nd Biennale of Sydney, Brook Andrew will create a new work for PHOTO 2020 in a commission supported by the City of Stonnington. Andrew’s practice challenges cultural and historical perception to comment on local and global issues regarding race, consumerism and history.
Danica Chappell. Thickness of Time # 8. 2018-19. Image courtesy of the artist.
Other artists being commissioned by PHOTO 2020’s program partners include South Sudanese / Australian artist Atong Atem for the Immigration Museum; Danica Chappell (Australia) at La Trobe Art Institute in collaboration with chemical biologist Dr Donna Whelan; Cherine Fahd (Australia) for the Australian Centre for Photography; and James Nguyen (Australia), Luke Parker (Australia), Steven Rhall (Taungurung (Australia)), Yvonne Todd (New Zealand), Grace Wood (Australia) and Emmaline Zanelli (Australia) in a program for the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, curated by Isobel Parker Philip, Senior Curator of Contemporary Australian Art at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
These commissions will be presented alongside an extensive program of free exhibitions at public galleries in Melbourne and across Victoria, including NGV Australia, Monash Gallery of Art, Centre for Contemporary Photography and Koorie Heritage Trust amongst others. Selected commercial galleries and artist-run initiatives have also been invited to premiere new work by Australian and international artists, celebrating emerging and established artists from across the arts ecosystem.