PHOTO 2021: New Festival Dates and Expanded Program Announced

Jacky-Redgate-HOLD-ON-2-&-4,-2019–20The inaugural PHOTO 2021 International Festival of Photography has announced its new dates, taking over Melbourne and regional Victoria from 18 February – 7 March 2021. Originally conceived as PHOTO 2020, the Festival was rescheduled in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. PHOTO 2021 is set to be Australia’s largest and most significant photography event.

Audiences can expect to see powerful imagery by artists and photographers from across the world curated in response to the central theme – The Truth – at outdoor sites in Melbourne, free exhibitions across Victoria, and an extensive public program.

“There has been no more important time for our society to discuss and debate the issues of finding, sourcing and understanding the truth,” said Mark Henry, Chair of PHOTO 2021. “Whether it be alternative facts, augmented reality or artificial intelligence our notions, perceptions and encounters of truth are constantly being questioned, eroded and at times attacked.”

“PHOTO 2021 has been established to not only create a world leading festival of photography, but to also continue to engage with and discuss the major issues of our time.”

Working with cultural and academic partners, Artistic Director Elias Redstone and the PHOTO 2021 team have created a new festival that celebrates photography as an artform as well as providing critical support to artists – with over 30 Australian and international artists commissioned to create new work.

“PHOTO 2021 is a truly international celebration of new photography and new ideas – a tour of what’s happening now in the world of contemporary photographic practice, and what’s coming next,” said Redstone. “Through commissioning new work we are dedicated to showing both established artists and providing support for new voices, perspectives and ideas. In the midst of COVID-19, supporting artists is more important than ever.”

Leading up to PHOTO 2021, an expanded Festival program runs throughout 2020, with a number of exhibitions specially curated in response to the Festival theme, The Truth, now opening to the public. Group exhibitions exploring how new technology is shifting our sense of reality include No True Self at the Centre for Contemporary Photography, featuring emerging artists from Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Poland and Sweden; and The Image Looks Back at RMIT Gallery, in which artists, photographers and technologists explore the impact of machines viewing and making photographs on the human experience.

Personal and political truths are also revealed in Affirmation at Koorie Heritage Trust, with Indigenous artists exploring the concept of truth in the context of place, ancestral identity and cultural pride; The Burning World at Bendigo Art Gallery, which interrogates urban and natural landscapes to reveal darker truths about human inhabitations; and the Aperture exhibition The New Black Vanguard: Photography between Art and Fashion featuring a new generation of black photographers turning the camera on the black body, presented exclusively in Australia for the Festival at Bunjil Place.

Explorations of The Truth are continued in solo exhibitions by Destiny Deacon (KuKu, Erub/Mer – Australia) at NGV Australia, David Noonan (Australia) at Art Gallery of Ballarat, Atong Atem (South Sudan/Australia) at Immigration Museum, Jacky Redgate (Australia) at Geelong Gallery, and Robert Fielding, an artist of Pakistani, Afghan, Western Arrente and Yankunytjatjara descent, at Linden New Art.

Running alongside these exhibitions, PHOTO 2021 is presenting PHOTO LIVE, a series of live streamed conversations with PHOTO 2021 artists about the social and cultural role photography plays in our lives, addressing a range of issues from identity and belonging to human rights and social justice.

The next season of PHOTO LIVE launches on 13 July 2020, featuring Dana Scruggs (USA), Stephen Tayo (Nigeria), Quil Lemons (USA), Tashara Roberts (Dja Dja Wurrung/Yorta Yorta – Australia), Paola Balla (Wemba Wemba/Gunditjmara – Australia), Ann Shelton (New Zealand), Amanda Williams (Australia), Rosa Menkman (The Netherlands) and (Australia).

The full PHOTO 2021 program will be released later this year. For more information about PHOTO 2021 and PHOTO LIVE, visit: for details.

Image: Jacky Redgate, HOLD ON #2 & #4, 2019–20, pigment ink on fabric – courtesy the artist and ARC ONE Gallery, Melbourne. © Jacky Redgate