Not standing still: new approaches in documentary photography

PHOTO-2021-Max-Pinckers-View-of-South-Korea-from-the-Balcony-at-the-DMZ-North-Korea-2018Featuring photographers from around the world who are challenging documentary photography’s relationship with truth, Monash Gallery of Art presents Not standing still: new approaches in documentary photography – a headline exhibition for PHOTO 2021 this February.

Not standing still will introduce Australian audiences to leading photographers from around the world who are making new documentary photography, many never having exhibited in Australia before.

Curated by Daniel Boetker-Smith, Pippa Milne and Associate Curator Gareth Syvret, Not standing still features internationally renowned artists: Mathieu Asselin (FR/VE), Broomberg and Chanarin (ZA/UK), Cristina de Middel (ES), Laura El-Tantawy (UK/EG), Yoshikatsu Fujii (JP), Ashley Gilbertson (AU), Gauri Gill and Rajesh Vangad (IN/IN), Zhang Kechun (CN), Dana Lixenberg (NL), Max Pinckers (BE), Raphaela Rosella (AU), Alec Soth (US) and James Tylor (AU).

The exhibition celebrates divergent and conceptual photographic processes at the evolving edges of documentary photography. The works exhibited address current issues of environment, politics, warfare, judicial inequality, racism, history and revolution through a range of visual languages.

“The smoky relationship between documentary and the imagination weaves through and unites Not standing still,” says Pippa Milne, MGA Senior Curator. “Photography has always been capable of telling fictions, while being equally tied to notions of truth, and because of this tightrope that photography walks between truth and fiction, it is an ever changing audience that completes these photographic narratives.”

Documentary photography has always adapted to changes in technology and social progress, and this exhibition charts some of the different approaches and new ‘ways of telling’ that have emerged over the past 15 years.

What was once the territory of the traditional photojournalist is now shared with photographers who see themselves as artists and collaborators, more interested in raising questions than in telling complete, digestible stories, and this is an opportunity to see the way that artists from across the globe have worked through a vast range of different ideas and developed new modes of investigation and presentation in order to best render an idea for an audience.

“Documentary photography is the genre of practice that sits closest to the outside world – to literature, to journalism, to politics, to identity, to gender, to race, to society, and therefore it is the mode that must be the most malleable, the most open to change, the most accepting of difference,” says Curator, Daniel Boetker-Smith.

The ideas traversed and the visuals offered by this exhibition make it an enticing and thought provoking opportunity for audiences. MGA will provide a virtual tour of the exhibition to create greater access to the exhibition. In partnership with PHOTO 2021 and RMIT School of Art, MGA will present PHOTO IDEAS – an expanded symposium on photography, truth and power in the post-internet age over three days: 24 February, 2 and 4 March.  

“The calibre of the artists included in Not standing still is reflective of the fabulous work that is being made in this field of documentary photography,” said Anouska Phizacklea, MGA Gallery Director.

“From Magnum photographers to winners of major awards such as the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize and the Robert Capa Gold Medal, these photographers represent an echelon of exceptional image-makers from Australia and across the globe, with 13 countries represented.”

“We are thrilled to be able to present them together under such an intense and interrogative theme of truth,” said Phizacklea.

Not standing still: new approaches in documentary photography
Monash Gallery of Art, 860 Ferntree Gully Road, Wheelers Hill
Exhibition: 18 February – 16 May 2021
Free entry

For more information, visit: or for details.

Image: Max Pinckers, View of South Korea from the Balcony at the DMZ, North Korea, 2018 (from the series Red Ink) – courtesy of the artist