Headline exhibitions announced for Head On Festival 2020

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Head On has announced the first 20 exhibitions that will headline the 2020 edition of the annual Australian photography festival.

© Janie Barrett, Courtesy Head On Photo Festival 2020
© Janie Barrett, Courtesy Head On Photo Festival 2020

The exhibitions that runs between 2 and 17 May showcases the work of Australian and international photographers and spans eight locations across Sydney, including Paddington Town Hall, NSW Parliament House, Gaffa Gallery and, for the first time,  a series of open-air exhibitions at Bondi Beach.

As Australia’s most recognised photography festival, Head On Photo Festival celebrates the many different genres of contemporary photography, including portraiture, photojournalism and fine art photography, among others.

© Richard Simpkin, Courtesy Head On Photo Festival 2020
© Richard Simpkin, Courtesy Head On Photo Festival 2020

Now in its eleventh year, the photographers whose works are selected to feature in the free and ticketed exhibitions use their photographs to explore a diverse range of themes such as climate change, the transience of childhood, the beauty of aging, the rise of anti-immigration groups, the devastating effects of war, identity and politics, as well as the intrinsic and ascribed value of selfies.

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

A highlight of this year’s festival is the exhibitions which will take place in an open-air setting at Bondi Beach. There, viewers can engage with a range of environmental themes as the works set to be showcased explore themes related to the diversity of marine life, the the social cost of the coal industry, and wildlife conservation. For example, Australian photographer Ian Bickerstaff’s Sanctuary, sheds light on the connection developed between orphaned primates and their carers at a rehabilitation facility located in Cameroon.

An important part of the festival is its photography competition, which will be presented across the Festival Hub and at Paddington Reservoir Gardens. The Head On Photo Awards is judged by internationally renowned photographers, photo editors and curators, and boasts a prize pool of $70 000, including two cash prizes of $15,000. A positive feature of the Awards is that the selected works are taken by both amateur and professional photographers from within Australia and Internationally.

Rosenzveig went on to say of the Festival, “Head On’s international scope and agility as an independent organisation allow us to present world class exhibitions that place the work of established Australian and internationally recognised artists alongside those of emerging talent.”

The 2020 Head On Photo Awards will be announced at the Festival launch date on Friday the 1st of May.

You can see the list of the first 20 exhibitions below, and see the full schedule and more details on the Head On website. 

The Festival Hub at Paddington Town Hall

  •       Mythological imaginings by Guatemalan economist and artist Astrid Blazsek-Ayala considers the impact of cultural exchange through images of large-scale piñatas of Greek mythological figures, created in collaboration with local Guatemalan craftsmen.

  •       Paper Tigers is a homage to contemporary Australian photojournalism; curated for this year’s festival by Moshe Rosenzveig OAM this exhibition features 30 Australian photojournalists and their most memorable work.

  •       Neo Pride by Australian photojournalist Jake Nowakowski chronicles Melbourne’s violent race rallies and the rise of and response to far right/anti-immigration group from 2014 to 2018.

  •       In UnKnowing...X, award-winning British photographer Professor Richard Sawdon Smith uses creative costuming to invent new hybrid identities that play with gender, sexuality and subjectivity.

  •       Australian artist Ahmad Sabra’s video work F@#$ the Fr@#$% uses spoken word, subtitles and the French national anthem to subvert stereotypical views of Muslims in Australia.

Bondi Beach

© Matt Smith, Courtesy Head On Photo Festival 2020
© Matt Smith, Courtesy Head On Photo Festival 2020
  •       Australian photographer Matt Smith’s Untitled uses underwater photography to showcase the diverse marine life from Bondi Beach and the surrounding coastline.

  •       Award-winning German documentarian and photographer Robert Harding Pittman’s Coal Scapes questions the coal industry in Germany and social cost of energy.
© Ian Bickerstaff, Courtesy Head On Photo Festival 2020
© Ian Bickerstaff, Courtesy Head On Photo Festival 2020
  •       Sanctuary by Australian photographer Ian Bickerstaff shines a light on the relationships developed between orphaned primates and their carers at a rehabilitation centre in Cameroon.

Paddington Reservoir Gardens

© Vee Speers, Courtesy Head On Photo Festival 2020
© Vee Speers, Courtesy Head On Photo Festival 2020
  •       Celebrated French photographer Vee Speers’ The Birthday Party eternalises the last days of childhood with painterly portraits that are at once hauntingly beautiful and provocative.

  •       Transformation Wall by Greek photographer Nikolaos Menoudarakos unpacks the intersection of raw reality and fantasy in the drag queen scene of Athens.
© Rene C Byer, Courtesy Head On Photo Festival 2020
© Renee C Byer, Courtesy Head On Photo Festival 2020
  •       Living on a Dollar a Day:  The Lives and Faces of the World's Poor is a powerful series by Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Renée C. Byer who travelled across four continents capturing the human faces of people living on about one U.S. dollar a day.

  •       Shanghai: Decadence with Chinese Characteristics by two-time Walkley Award winning photographer Dave Tacon explores Shanghai’s nightclubs as a stage to flaunt extreme wealth.

NSW Parliament House

  •       For Then and Now, Sydney Children's Hospital Foundation’s photographer-in-residence Jimmy Pozarik revisits 25 patients from past projects, sharing unique moments from their hospital experience as children and where they are today.
© Paul Harmon, Courtesy Head On Photo Festival 2020
© Paul Harmon, Courtesy Head On Photo Festival 2020
  •       WaterMarks by 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.

Delmar Gallery

  •       Award-winning Polish photographer Anna Bedynska’s series Clothes for Death 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 is a photo story that illustrates the beauty and sensuality in women aged 70 and over.

Gaffa Gallery

  •       Australian-based American photographer Brian Hodges’ After the war - Northern Uganda celebrates the resilient human spirit and the area’s rejuvenation after decades of hostilities.

  •       In his vibrant exhibition Wigstock, Canadian photographer Pierre Dalpé offers a glimpse into the fabulousness of drag and disguise at the iconic New York City drag festival of the same name.
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