Head On Photo Festival reveals 2021 highlight exhibitions

Bridgette-Gower-Disco-Bugs-courtesy-of-Head-On-Photo-FestivalAustralia’s leading annual photography event, Head On Photo Festival, has revealed the five exhibitions that will headline the 2021 Festival, featuring the work of renowned international and Australian photographers presented across multiple outdoor venues from 19 – 28 November.

After a successful digital edition in 2020, the Festival returns this year with a physical footprint that will once again enliven Sydney’s Eastern suburbs with a program of more than 50 international and local photographic exhibitions for industry professionals, art lovers and the general public.

Venue highlights include Paddington Reservoir Gardens and the popular Bondi Beach Promenade installation that will line the beachfront with 20 exhibitions by international and Australian photographers exploring stories, places and cultures from around the world.

The 12th edition of the Festival will present a diverse program of photographic exhibitions with highlights including the Australian premiere of a new exhibition by internationally acclaimed photographer Roger Ballen and American photographer Neil Kramer’s comedy series about COVID-19 life in Queens.

The 2021 Festival will see Australian photographer Bridgette Gower’s study of bugs as revellers in a back garden dance floor and the Australian premiere of international collective The Everyday Project’s group exhibition highlighting the vital stories of women migrants around the world.

“After our incredibly successful digital program last year, we are delighted to be returning in 2021 to a physical festival that will once again bring the work of internationally recognised artists to Sydney alongside a celebration of homegrown talent,” said Head On Festival Director Moshe Rosenzveig OAM.

“As we head into the summer months we are pleased to be presenting a suite of exhibitions at a number of outdoor venues that our audiences can enjoy safely this November.”

Headline exhibitions presented as part of the 2021 festival include:

  • The Australian premiere of internationally acclaimed South Africa based photographer Roger Ballen’s series Roger the Rat. While in keeping with his uncanny, black and white aesthetic, known as Ballenesque, the series sees Ballen create a new persona to explore the human psyche and forces that make us who we are, including those we repress and never celebrate.
  • Australian photographer and former DJ Bridgette Gower presents the world premiere of Disco Bugs. Drawing inspiration from the lights and laser beams she danced under in nightclubs around the world, she casts the bugs as revellers in their own dance floor playground.
  • Celebrated American photographer, writer and filmmaker Neil Kramer presents the Australian premiere of his new series Quarantine in Queens. Offering a personal commentary on caregiving, love and family responsibility, the series shines a comedic lens on Kramer’s quarantine experience living in Queens with his 86-year-old mother from Florida and his ex-wife from Los Angeles during the height of the COVID-19 Pandemic in March 2020.
  • The world premiere of Kurds Open Wounds by Kurdish photographer and former refugee Younes Mohammad, a long-term project documenting the sacrifices of Kurdish Peshmerga in the fight to put down ISIS. Mohammad spoke with several hundred Peshmerga and took intimate portraits of the wounded fighters and their families to illustrate the stories of immense suffering from their battles and ongoing struggles to navigate post-conflict life.
  • The Australian premiere of The Everyday Projects’ internationally acclaimed group exhibition Women On The Move, featuring the work of female photographers documenting the stories of women migrants across the world and the specific challenges they face before fleeing their home country, during their journey, and when resettling.

The Head On Photo Awards will also return in 2021 offering a prize-pool of $70,000 to professional and amateur photographers around the world. Judged by internationally renowned photographers, picture editors and curators, the Awards will present finalists across three categories, including Portrait and Landscape and the Head On Student Award, which is open to school years K-12. The call for 2021 entries for the Awards has now closed.

The 2021 Head On Photo Festival runs 19 – 28 November. Further programming and venues will be announced in the coming months. The Festival will continue to follow the NSW Health advice regarding COVID-19 restrictions and encourages visitors to monitor their social media channels and website for updates. For more information, visit: www.headon.com.au for details.

Image: Bridgette Gower, Disco Bugs (detail) – courtesy of Head On Photo Festival