Foto Biennale bigger and better than ever

Picture: Jane Long
Picture: Jane Long

THE SIXTH Ballarat International Foto Biennale will kick off in two weeks, with a program dubbed as the biggest to date.

Featuring a core program of photo exhibitions scattered throughout the city, as well as a fringe program, film festival, workshops and symposium, this year’s event will celebrate 10 years since its inception, and is expected to draw crowds from further afield than ever before.

Ballarat International Foto Biennale executive director Steve Marshall said the festival was a great opportunity for the arts world to recognise Ballarat for what it had to offer through the Season of the Arts.

“It’s huge,” Mr Marshall said.

“Australia has a city that is at the heart of photography in the country – and it’s Ballarat.

“We are positioning ourselves to be the capital of photography in Australia. We have a great footprint in a beautiful city and we have the entire community behind us.”

The BIFB was created in 2005 by Daylesford-based photographer and lecturer Jeff Moorfoot with the aim of celebrating photography in all its forms and featuring local photographers but with an international outlook.

Ten years later, and the month-long festival has become an important photographic event on the world stage.

The Courier has compiled a list of the major events that make up this year’s BIFB program. Hard copies of the program will also be available for a gold coin donation at the Mining Exchange at the launch of the festival. For more information and ticketing information, visit

Picture: Ben Wrigley

Picture: Ben Wrigley

BIFB Core Program

Featuring the works of 21 invited artists, the core program will take place in seven venues across Ballarat.

“Eleven of them are international photographers from countries including Argentina, France, Germany, China and Malta,” Mr Marshall said.

“There’s some extraordinary stuff.”

Held at the Ballarat Mining Exchange, the Art Gallery of Ballarat, Ballarat Trades Hall, The Lost Ones Gallery, Post Office Gallery, Ballarat Town Hall and St Patrick’s Community Hall, the program will span between August 22 and September 20.

Picture: Angela Bacon Kidwell

Picture: Angela Bacon Kidwell

BIFB Fringe Program

The Fringe Exhibition program will comprise of 120 shows scattered in more than 80 venues throughout Ballarat.

Mr Marshall said the Fringe program provided a stage for photographers of all levels to present their talents to the broadest possible audience, and to showcase their work alongside some of the best photographic talent from around the world.

“The Fringe program has grown to be our biggest ever and we’re getting a lot more support in the Fringe arena,” Mr Marshall said.

“It’s becoming very attractive –  a place where people can get discovered. We’ve got photographers from all over the country putting stuff in the Fringe because they know people who are interested in photography come here to look for content.”

Cafe and restaurant Mr Rede in Dana Street will act as the Fringe hub, providing information on special exhibition events.

The online Fringe guide will also be available soon, featuring information on all Fringe shows including maps, addresses, opening hours and artist statements.

Picture: David Anthony Williams

Picture: David Anthony Williams

Film Program

THE BIFB film program will feature three one-night only screenings of photography-related films as well as the first episode of a short film written by local creative Erin McCuskey.

Complementing the core program, the film festival will kick off on Monday, August 24 at 7pm with the film Salt of the Earth, a visual ode to photographer Sebastiao Salgado.

The following Monday will see the screening of documentary Tim’s Vermeer which follows Tim Jenison’s five-year obsession with the 17th century master Johannes Vermeer.

The final Monday on September 7 will see the screening of the captivating documentary Finding Vivian Maier. The critically-acclaimed film follows photographer Vivian Maier’s strange and riveting life and art, revealed through never-before-seen photographs, films and interviews.

All films will be preceded by the short film Luxville, which creator Erin McCuskey said explored the significant impact of arts and culture and how it needed to be seen as core in today’s society.

Ms McCuskey said the Foto Biennale had never had a film component of this magnitude before.

“It’s like using one art form to inform people about another art form,” she said.

“It’s an opportunity for people who like photography to learn about the stories behind photography from master filmmakers.”

Picture: J Scriba

Picture: J Scriba

BIFB Symposium

The BIFB Symposium: Borderless Futures, Reimaging the Citizen is a full-day event presented by the Photography Studies College.

The symposium aims to continue the discussion generated by the most important exhibition of photography in Australia in 25 years – The Photograph and Australia exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Among its many ideas, the exhibition posited photography in Australia as a medium for constant renegotiation of the nation.

Featuring keynote speakers University of Melbourne Professor Nikos Papastergiadis and Art Gallery of New South Wales senior curator Judy Annear, the symposium will also include presentations from practitioners, teachers, academics, curators, librarians, and independent scholars.

The symposium will take place on August 20 from 9.15am to 7.30pm. Tickets cost $20 and bookings are essential.

Picture: Belinda Mason

Picture: Belinda Mason

In Conversation

A free conversation session will take place on Friday and Saturday nights during the festival.

Starting at 7.30pm, the sessions will allow participants to speak with a photographer or panel of photographers about their issues and challenges.

In Conversation will be held at Mr Rede from Friday, August 21 to Saturday, September 19.

Picture: Dave Tacon

Picture: Dave Tacon

Other workshops and events

The BIFB will also include a range of other events including portfolio reviews for photographers, audiovisual projections from around the world as well as a range of workshops. The workshops will allow people to catch up with colleagues and industry professionals, learn new ideas and techniques, and advance their technical and aesthetic skills. Registrations are essential.


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