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At a glance: The 2019 Ballarat International Foto Biennale

Made of Ballarat

16 Jul 2019

Filed underSee & Do

For more than 14 years, the Ballarat International Foto Biennale (BIFB) has enriched the cultural landscape of regional Victoria and become the most prestigious photographic arts festival in Australia.

In 2019, the festival extends from one month to two (August 24 – October 20), bringing together over 100 local and international artists.

Under the theme of “Hello World”, these leading artists come to Ballarat representing their world in unconventional ways and in unpredictable circumstances.

“Many share with us their investigations into human behvaiour and intervention in areas of climate, rights, race, capital and conflict,” BIFB artistic director Fiona Sweet said.

“In an era of continuous and rapid redefinition, these photographers strive to deliver messages from the 21st century.”

Fiona Foley, The Oyster Fisherman 1, 2011

Opening weekend

To launch the festival program in style, the BIFB is hosting a celebration within the exhibition Who are these strangers and where are they going? on August 24 at the Ballarat Mining Exchange between 8pm and 10pm.

Curated by Djon Mundine OAM, this mid-career showcase of Dr Fiona Foley‘s key works spans her celebrated 30-year art-making practice. The show will combine her signature interactive, site-specific artworks in addition to premiering a new digital piece.

Get a taste of what awaits you over the course of the festival as this public event opens the Core Program, the Outdoor Program and the Open Program of BIFB 2019.

Laia Abril, Hippocratic Betrayal, 2016

National Centre for Photography

The 2019 Biennale will be the first to feature the new National Centre For Photography (NCFP), an exciting, permanent arts space developed for the community by the BIFB.

The NCFP is Australia’s only regional gallery dedicated exclusively to the photographic arts, with a strong focus on providing ample creative opportunities through educational programs and skills development.

Residing in Lydiard Street’s heritage-listed former Union Bank, the NCFP is set to become a vibrant hub for community and arts engagement in Ballarat. Within the classical Victorian architecture will be two permanent gallery spaces, a photobook library, darkroom facilities, educational workshop facilities and an artists-in-residence program.

During the 2019 Biennale, the NCFP will host important artists including Laia Abril (above), Mathieu Asselin, Robbie Rowlands and renowned curator Naomi Cass.

Liu Bolin, Balloon No. 1, 2012

Art Gallery of Ballarat

This year’s exhibitions at the Art Gallery of Ballarat feature Liu Bolin (above), Noémie Goudal, Jane Burton and Eugenia Lim.

Through these exhibitions, viewers will be taken on a journey from China to the outer borders of the earth and back to Ballarat. Explore notions of humanity from the disappearance of the artist, to ancient concepts of the earth’s relief, to the Australian history of colonisation.

These artworks will challenge and provoke new schools of thought while showcasing the talents of artists from Australia and beyond.

Han Sungpil, Layers, 2016

Outdoor Program

The BIFB transforms the entire city into an open-air gallery through its Outdoor Program. Familiar streets, laneways, shopfronts and building exteriors will surprise you as they transform into exhilarating exhibition spaces.

Take it all in as part of the Ballarat Foto Walks series, or enjoy a leisurely stroll of your own navigation through this beautiful city, where you’ll discover art and culture in the most unexpected places.

Artists exhibiting in the Outdoor Program: Mandy Barker, Taysir Batniji, W.H. Chong, Monty Coles, Hayden Folwer, Oliver Laric, Diana Lelonek, Eden Menta and Janelle Low, Erin M McCuskey, Sally McKay, Pitcha Makin Fellas, and Han Sungpil (above).

Education Program

The 2019 BIFB Education Program provides exciting opportunities for students of all ages with activities and resources that extend teaching and learning beyond the festival and into the classroom in a comprehensive year-round program.

The program delivers curriculum-aligned teaching and learning possibilities across a range of subject areas, from visual arts, photography and media to geography, humanities, science, history, politics, Chinese and Indigenous studies. Students are encouraged to explore exhibitions through engagement in workshops, talks and other education activities.

Amrita Sur, The Politics of My Body

Open Program

BIFB’s 2019 Open Program features over 60 exhibitions, taking over Ballarat’s traditional and non-traditional arts spaces.

Artists will display their work in galleries, cafes, bars, streets, laneways and local businesses. Featuring both established and emerging artists, the Open Program will invigorate the whole of Ballarat to come alive with art, with something to be seen around every corner.

Main image: Fiona Foley, HHH #1, 2004


24 Aug 2019 – 20 Oct 2019

Featuring the work of some of the biggest international names in photography, the 2019 Ballarat International Foto Biennale program delves deep into photographic explorations of human behaviour and human intervention, traversing the terrain of ecology, rights, race, capital and conflict.

Book Liu Bolin tickets here

Click here to visit the festival website

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