Photography Studies College - Melbourne, Victoria

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In the catalogue for the The photograph and Australia exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales this year, Senior Curator Judy Annear wrote, ‘There is much at stake in what might constitute the nation state, which is as porous as photography is mutable’.

Among its many ideas, the exhibition posited photography in Australia as a medium for the constant renegotiation of the nation. This symposium aims to continue the discussion generated by the most important exhibition of photography in Australia in 25 years, by looking beyond national borders to ask what it means to be a global citizen, with particular reference to the role of images.

Keynote Speakers

Judy Annear
Senior Curator, Photographs
Art Gallery of New South Wales
‘Did Photography Invent Modern Australia?’
The exhibition and book, The photograph and Australia, challenge us to consider our own history and how much more is to be gleaned from the archives. Two interlocking aspects are covered in this paper. If photography invented modern Australia, how so? With regard to the colonies in the 19th century, how were these imaged photographically, how did this change in the 20th century, and how do we view such material now?

Professor Nikos Papastergiadis
Culture and Communication
The University of Melbourne
‘Art from the Global South’
This lecture examines the legacies of artistic practices that have shifted the perspective on globality and exhibitions, and discursive platforms that have expanded the categories for understanding the production and interpretation of art from the South. It will start with the idea of the Antipodes and then explore a number of projects that develop horizontal networks of influence and exchange across the South.


Bella Capezio
Independent practitioner & Photography Studies College
'Oscillating Objects'
The rapid growth in self-publishing and independent publishing houses specialising in photobooks has given rise to a new form of international connectivity. This paper will explore the new spaces of transportable information that photobooks inhabit, and the dialogues around content, artists, and objects that audiences are engaging with.

Assistant Professor Daniel W. Coburn
The University of Kansas
‘The Hereditary Estate: Domestic Trauma and Vernacular Photography’
Using my own photographs made over the last decade, and altered, amateur photographs, I weave a family narrative that is simultaneously beautiful and terrifying. My monograph, The Hereditary Estate, is an amendment to the family album; a supplement designed to puncture the illusion of the ideal family constructed by twentieth-century visual culture.

Alasdair Foster
Ph.D. candidate
Monash University
‘The Quest for Conversive Communities’
There has been a resurgence of the ‘pro-am’ in the arts, practicing with skilled proficiency without seeking to earn a living from it. While some may see this as a threat to full-time artists, I will argue that it is healthier for the culture of a community and for professionals.

Associate Professor Phillip George
Art & Design
University of New South Wales
‘Writing the Landscape – the Cognitive Mapping’
This paper explores the biographical aftermath, the palimpsest-like inscriptions on the landscape, mapping places, monuments and sites where commemorations are enacted and where collective cultural geography is embedded and reinforced. The paper ignores national borderlines to focus on significant nodal points saturated with the cultural politics of transformation, influenced both by the global and the local.

Dr Kristian Häggblom
La Trobe University
‘Surveillance, Surveilled’
Surveillance, Surveilled investigates ever-increasing photographic practices that make use of automated imagery. This contemporary strategy no longer sees the photographer work in a traditional camera operative mode – rather they act as a surveillant. The paper contextually elaborates on an evolving work-in-progress to seek possible outcomes for the project in a borderless future.

Sam Harris
independent practitioner
‘The Middle of Somewhere’
‘In Discussion with Daniel Boetker-Smith’
In this informal discussion with Daniel Boetker-Smith, Sam Harris will talk about his experience of migration and how it affected his practice, the making of his photobook The Middle of Somewhere, and ideas about how photobooks cross borders of different kinds, including national and cultural borders.

Dr Les Horvat
Senior Fellow
Photography Studies College
‘Photographing the Exotic Other: Cultural Identity and the Western Gaze in Bali, Indonesia’
Addressing the notion that taking photographs in foreign countries brings a distinct gaze to the subject, this paper argues that such photography is a performative expression of cultural identity. In so doing, 'tableau' style images depicting social life, culture and ceremony on the island of Bali, are examined.

Dr Hugh Hudson
Lecturer and Honorary Research Fellow
Photography Studies College and The University of Melbourne
'Vernacular Photography in the Nineteenth-Century Jewish Diaspora: The Montefiore Album’
An album in the Mitchell Library, Sydney, contains photographs here attributed to Eliezer Levi Montefiore (1820–1894). His Jewish family was dispersed across the globe, but united by an interest in photography. This paper discusses the international outlook of the album’s images, alongside romanticised views of nationalism.

Philippa Kelly
independent practitioner
‘Jorng Jam Means ‘To Remember’ in Khmer’
This presentation will be about the collaborative project and exhibition series Jorng Jam, which features the work of four young Cambodian artists: film-maker Neang Kavich, sculptor Kong Vollak, and photographers Kim Hak and Neak Sophal. The project is curated and produced by Brisbanebased producer, Pip Kelly.

Rita Lazauskas
Amazigh Cultural Tours Morocco
‘Threshold: Where East Meets West’
Working in Morocco with artists Anne Zahalka and Susan Purdy, in an environment where photography is seen as intrusive, requires taking a culturally sensitive approach to place, as the people of Marrakech are now constantly in the viewfinder of the 'citizen journalist' especially that in the guise of the tourist.

Susan Long
Librarian, Picture Collection
State Library of Victoria
‘‘This is Dante’s house & thats all I know about it’: Postcards and Instant Messaging in the Early 20th Century’
From the sublime to the banal, postcards as photographic objects travelled across national and international boundaries expediently conveying instant messages and paradigmatic representations of distant locations on a daily basis. Reflecting on the correspondence of several correspondents these travelling images that conveyed notions of nationality, class, race and gender are discussed.

David Manley
Independent practitioner
‘Ambivalent Structures’
This informal presentation will discuss the artist’s Ambivalent Structures project, which interrogates the latent connection of the bunker with the contemporary urban terrain, investigating its psychological influence, and addressing contemporary anxieties regarding power and control as expressed in architecture.

Claire Monneraye
Curator Exhibitions, International & Satellite Projects
Australian Centre for Photography
‘Stateless Curator’
This paper will explore the notion of a ‘Stateless Curator’. Suggesting that the permeability and fluidity of photomedia art expand opportunities to connect new audiences with works, generate new meanings, push boundaries and cancel frontiers, it will discuss how the curators’ role, and geographical and conceptual influence have shifted with the increase in cross-cultural collaborations.

Natasha Narain
MFA candidate
Queensland University of Technology
‘Travelling Across Borders with my Kantha’
This presentation by an emerging Indian-Australian artist and researcher explores how interdisciplinary practice can inhabit a space between culturally designated art forms, linking traditions as shared psychological and social conduits. This is an eclectic reawakening of personal and cultural memory, turning both inside out, as a means to engender cathartic healing whilst crisscrossing geo-political boundaries.

Sanja Pahoki
Victorian College of the Arts, The University of Melbourne
‘Welcome. Please Remove Your Shoes’
This talk covers recent artworks featuring my family that address concerns of place, identity, portals, loss and trauma. Floorwork is a 3-channel video inspired by childhood memories of watching World Championship Wrestling with my family on TV. The videos were shot in tropical Queensland on my parents’ expansive, pure-wool carpeted floor. Leave your shoes at the door.

Dr Doug Spowart
independent practitioner
‘Photobook Anxiety: Social Media and Indie Publishing’
Social media is the communication vehicle of choice for the worldwide phenomenon of the photobook. Everyday, photobook dilettantes frenetically seek updates, reviews, new releases, post about their books and the latest gossip – the anxiety is palpable. This paper will discuss the frisson of social media that drives the indie photobook.

James Voller
independent practitioner
‘Community Documentation’
This paper examines how documentary photographers generate relationships with the communities they are working in. By looking at a variety of methods since the origin of the genre, I will argue that for photographers to create meaningful relationships and dialogues with subjects and communities, artists must reflect the context in which they are working.

Michael Warnock
Photography Studies College
‘Art, Subjectivity, and the Mechanisms of Change’
This paper investigates Henri Bergson’s ideas of subjectivity and change, connecting them with our experiences of art and photography. It references themes explored by artists as diverse as Pat Brassington, Marina Abramovic, and Damien Hirst. A link between their works is made by asking: how do our embodied experiences of the present perpetually re-invent the future?

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