Coronavirus impacts local photography events

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The spread of COVID-19 has impacted a number of Australian photography events, exhibitions, workshops and public programs, including the iconic Head On Photo Festival.

© Matt Smith, Courtesy Head On Photo Festival 2020
Matt Smith's exhibition Untitled was set to be one of the star attractions of the new Bondi Beach exhibition space this year. Image courtesy Head On Photo Festival 2020.

The annual international photography festival announced this morning that the festival will still take place between 1-17 May, but the program will be predominantly online, accompanied by a number of webinars.

Award winners of the festival’s competition, the Head On Photo Awards, will still be announced on 1 May as previously planned.

On behalf of the Head On Photo Festival team, Director Moshe Rosenzveig OAM has explained this solution has been devised to keep viewers and staff safe and reduce the spread of the coronavirus, but still honour the efforts and talent of all participating photographers.   

Vee Speers, Untitled. Courtesy Head On Photo Festival 2020.
Vee Speers, Untitled. Courtesy Head On Photo Festival 2020.

Rosenzveig said, “The Head On Photo Festival team have been regularly checking updates regarding the coronavirus pandemic and we are making plans to best protect the public, our artists, volunteers and staff. We recognise the extraordinary effort photographers have put into delivering Award submissions and preparing exhibitions over recent months and plan to honour and celebrate this by working to create an online Head On Photo Festival.”

The move to a predominantly online program, as opposed to simply postponing the festival, is also aimed at helping members of the community who are, and will be, isolated at home in the coming months.

Rosenzveig went on to say, “At a time when many people will be in isolation, this digital platform will provide our audiences around the world with a variety of interesting artworks, images and activities to engage and interact with.”

As to physical viewings, Rosenzveig has made it clear that there are plans in the works for a scaled-back physical festival in November 2020.

“With the support of our wonderful sponsors, our devoted team is currently working hard to deliver the best online and physical festival we can, so keep an eye out for updates.” 

Other photography events across the country have also been impacted by the need to reduce the spread of COVID-19, with numerous gallery closures and many exhibitions and workshops being postponed or temporarily cancelled.

The National Photographic Portrait Prize award ceremony was closed to the public as the gallery chose to film the announcement and broadcast the footage online. The ceremony normally sees 500 attendees, but this year’s event had fewer than ten people in attendance. As of now, the exhibition of the finalist images is still open. 

Geelong Gallery, which is currently showing The Look, a portrait photography exhibition from the archives of the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra, has closed its doors until 13 April.

Melbourne’s inaugural Photo 2020 Festival, which was scheduled to open on 23 April has been postponed until 10-17 September 2020.

And finally the Australian Centre for Photography has also temporarily closed its project space, and has announced that upcoming workshops and public programs will likely be postponed or cancelled.

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