Head On Photo Festival, 1 to 17 May 2020

Martine Perret, Levi and Keneisha, Paper Tigers exhibition. Courtesy the artist and Head On Photo Festival, 2020

‘Head On Photo Festival’ piques our interest in contemporary fine art photography, portraiture and photojournalism with the presentation of the 11th annual festival. A range of complex themes map the diverse realities of contemporary life around the world and are open to exploration across a program of free and ticketed events in galleries and other spaces across Sydney. Here’s a sneak peek!

Please note the festival has made amendments to the program in the wake of the currently evolving health crisis, they state;

“This online version of the event will be held as scheduled from 1-17 May and will be accompanied by an exciting program of online seminars and events throughout the Festival period. We will then work to present a scaled-back physical festival later in the year… At this stage, some smaller galleries in Sydney still plan to present printed exhibitions in association with Head On Photo Festival as scheduled in May 2020, and we will promote these online including in a downloadable Festival catalogue.”

Visit Head On’s site for more detail.

Photographers from France, Guatemala, Japan, Greece, Germany, South Korea, The Netherlands, United States of America, United Kingdom, China, Canada and Australia will take viewers on a visual journey across borders. Images of the devastating impacts of war, reflections on poverty, experiences of migrant life and racism will confront audiences with stark truths, while more personal expressions of identity, sexuality, childhood and ageing, evoke curiosity and intrigue for human individuality.

The Festival Hub at Paddington Town Hall, Paddington Reservoir Gardens, NSW Parliament House and Gaffa Gallery in the CBD, as well as Delmar Gallery in the Inner West are all part of the buzz, and a first for the festival is a series of open-air exhibitions on the promenade at Bondi Beach. The first 20 shows are set to unfold across the following venues with more announcements in the coming weeks.

Paddington Town Hall Mythological imaginings – considers the impact of cultural exchange with images of large-scale piñatas of Greek mythological figures by Guatemalan economist and artist Astrid Blazsek-Ayala. Paper Tigers – features 30 Australian photojournalists and their most memorable works, curated by Festival Director Moshe Rosenzveig. Neo Pride – Australian photojournalist Jake Nowakowski chronicles Melbourne’s violent race rallies and the rise of and response to far right/anti-immigration group 2014-2018. UnKnowing…X – explores gender, sexuality and subjectivity with British photographer Professor Richard Sawdon Smith. F@#$ the Fr@#$% – video work by Australian artist Ahmad Sabra uses spoken word, subtitles and the French national anthem to subvert stereotypical views of Muslims in Australia. 

Vee Speers, Untitled #16. Courtesy the artist and Head On Photo Festival 2020

Paddington Reservoir Gardens
The Birthday Party – eternalises the last days of childhood with painterly portraits that are hauntingly beautiful and provocative by French photographer Vee Speers. Transformation Wall – unpacks the intersection of raw reality and fantasy in the drag queen scene of Athens by Greek photographer Nikolaos Menoudarakos. Living on a Dollar a Day:  The Lives and Faces of the World’s Poor – a powerful series of images by photojournalist Renée C. Shanghai: Decadence with Chinese Characteristics – explores Shanghai’s nightclubs as a stage to flaunt extreme wealth by photographer Dave Tacon.

NSW Parliament House 
For Then and Now – Sydney Children’s Hospital Foundation’s photographer-in-residence Jimmy Pozarik revisits 25 patients from past projects with a profile where they are now. WaterMarks – Australian photographer Paul Harmon captures the Murray-Darling River floodplains from the air revealing their beauty alongside ugly truths of stolen land and environmental degradation.

Matt Smith, The Martian. Courtesy the artist and Head On Photo Festival 2020

Bondi Beach
Untitled –Australian photographer Matt Smith uses underwater photography to showcase the diverse marine life from Bondi Beach and the surrounding coastline. Coal Scapes – questions the coal industry in Germany and social cost of energy by German documentarian and photographer Robert Harding Pittman. Sanctuary – highlights the relationships between orphaned primates and their carers at a rehabilitation centre in Cameroon by Australian photographer Ian Bickerstaff. 

Delmar Gallery, Summer Hill
Clothes for Death – Polish photographer Anna Bedynska presents portraits of individuals alongside images of their burial clothes in a tender exploration of legacy. The art of aging by Canadian photographer Arianne Clément illustrates the beauty and sensuality of women aged 70 and over. 

Gaffa Gallery, CBD
After the war – Northern Uganda – celebrates the resilient human spirit and the area’s rejuvenation after decades of hostilities by Australian-based American photographer Brian Hodges. Wigstock – Canadian photographer Pierre Dalpé offers a glimpse into the fabulousness of drag and disguise at the iconic New York City drag festival ‘Wigstock’.

Head On Photo Awards
A call to national and international emerging and established photographers culminates in the ‘Head On Photo Awards’ and finalists’ exhibition. Entrants are in the running to take home a share of the $70,000 prize money. Winners will be announced at the festival launch on Friday 1 May 2020. 

“Our 2020 headline exhibitions promise, as always, an incredible banquet of topical themes that are deeply relevant to our everyday lives,” says  Head On Festival Director Moshe Rosenzveig OAM.

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